Toddlers and Tiaras: Right or Just Wrong?

pink tiaras

By Blossom Cheng

A reality television show, Toddlers & Tiaras, has become increasingly popular due to its controversial themes. The show shows the lives of under-18 beauty pageant contestants, most under the age of ten, some even younger than 3 years old, and their over-ardent parents.

The reason why this show is so controversial, as you may have already guessed, is the fact that the show includes footage of fervid mothers embellishing their pre-pubescent daughters with fake eyelashes, spray-tans, and makeup suitable for dolls that they would be playing with, if not for this extravagant lifestyle.

Some mothers have become heated about T&T, which has sparked others to speak up. “This show sickens me,” said one. “Who in their right mind would think it is okay to dress their little girl up in wigs, makeup, fake tans, false teeth, and scantily clad clothes and parade them on a stage in front of a bunch of middle-aged men and have them voted on being beautiful?”

A ban on the show has been provoked on the popular social networking site, Facebook. The members comment with fury that the under-age girls are unintentionally promoting paedophilia. It is claimed that the show is sexualising the children who are completely unaware of how much it will damage their reputation when they mature. It was also stated that the children are being exploited by both the pageants and the show, all for the sake of the ‘greedy’ entertainment industry.

Pre-adolescence, especially for girls, is a time to not care about what you look like to others, and as this show airs in both the USA and the UK, it may impose thoughts into the minds of other young girls who may also wish to compete in beauty pageants and in a way, lose their innocence onstage – for money and plastic crowns which weigh the tiny contestants’ heads down. Some contestants’ mothers have gone to great lengths to make their daughters more ‘beautiful’ by bleaching their teeth, dressing them in baby bikinis, and forcing them to compete against their friends.

In the show, ‘before and after’ shots are shown, which display the substantial contrast before any makeup or artificial body enhancements. The said shots reveal the ‘sexualisation’ of the young girls and how the pageants spoil the young ladies’ innocence. Everyone would agree that sexualising a 3–year-old is wrong.The mother of a 3-year-old has generated a lot of controversy for stepping over this boundary, as one of the most recent episodes showed her daughter strutting on stage addressed as Julia Robert in Pretty Women, a film which depicted the actress as a prostitute. Supposedly, the antic was to boost the show’s ratings and views, evidently, it has failed to do so. The stunt has made the show even more infamous, shaming all pageant mothers everywhere. One pageant mother commented that: “It’s pageant moms like her that give us a bad rap.”

Supporters of Toddlers & Tiaras have commented that the show is a chance for little girls to show people what they are good at and have fun. The show is simply broadcasting “what  100,000 children do every year [in America]”, as according to the program’s network, TLC, also known as ‘The Learning Channel’. The mothers who are featured in the show have also defended themselves as “good mothers” they exclaim their children’s happiness is worth more than anything else. Chandra Smith of Beaumont wrote, “…We’ve had a blast! I agree some moms go overboard but as long as the kids show an interest then, my gosh, let them…my daughter was recently taped with Toddlers & Tiaras…You should have seen her little face when she saw herself and heard her name on TV! It was like she just won the lottery! Get over the pageant hatred!”

With its underage girls smiling to the judges with their great, pearly whites, twirling in their home-made provocative costumes and Dolly Parton ensembles (complete with padding), TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras is an undeniably controversial programme. Will this be recognised as it becomes an infamous flop of a telecast, or will this be ignored as it basks in the controversy of its Hollywood fame? We’ll leave the viewers to decide.

Photography: alicetiara on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

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