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Wildly Inappropriate Parenting: Toddlers and Tiaras

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Reel Mama: Wildly Inappropriate Parenting: Toddlers and Tiaras

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wildly Inappropriate Parenting: Toddlers and Tiaras

Sometimes you just have to ask, what are these parents thinking?  Moms who take their daughters to pole dancing lessons so they can feel more sexy?  Or the dad who whizzed across Centinela, one of the busiest streets in LA, on a scooter, the kind you stand up on and push, with his little (helmet-less) son holding on for dear life as I careened toward them in my car.  Their “jay-scooting” escapade took reckless endangerment to a new level and almost got us all killed.

But some of the pageant moms featured in Toddlers and Tiaras take the prize.  Or should I say, in pageant-appropriate lingo, the “Grand Supreme,” in the category of wildly inappropriate parenting.  We the “normal” parents don’t do pageants with our kids, and obviously the producers of this show are preying upon our sense of outrage (and superiority) and milking it for all it’s worth.  Indeed they are counting on it for ratings.  It’s working!  I’m cringing as I watch, and it almost made me lose my lunch.  This show nauseates me, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep watching.

I’ve produced some reality TV myself (not pageant-related), and I know that to a certain extent some scenes can be scripted, or at least directed.  A close friend of mine who edits reality shows (not pageant-related) has actually been instructed to include shots that make a subject look like a bad mom, because that’s how the producers wanted her to be portrayed…as unlikeable to the viewers.

Nevertheless, the producers only manipulate the footage so much.  Ultimately, whether it’s of his own volition or he’s taking direction, it really is that dad giving his 2-year-old daughter a spray tan in the bathtub.

Here are just a few of the gems, taken verbatim, from a rerun of the show I recorded yesterday:

A pageant mom: “When it comes to winning, money is no option [sic]…Brystol’s beauty dress cost us right around $4000…Basically I work four days a week to support our pageant habit….If I had to take out a second mortgage on my house to make sure that she wins, then that’s what it would take.  Am I crazy?  No.  I’m just doing what it takes for us to win.”

This woman’s daughter is 18 months old!  What is the little girl getting out of it?  Think of what that money could do in a 529 savings plan for college.  Honestly, what is this little girl going to do with these crowns when she’s 30 or 40 (except, god forbid, subject her own child to this nonsense), and what is it going to prove in the long run?  How is this investing in your child?

A pageant coach: “Now that you’re over one years [sic, again!] you get to wear makeup in pageants.”

There is so much wrong with that statement. WHERE DO I START??  Lipstick and a hairpiece on an 18 month old?  Mascara??  I’m apoplectic. I just have to ask, can this be real?

I’m quoting a pageant mom again here: “Chloe’s very tired, so her daddy made her some special ‘juice’ that’s just energy drink, apple juice, and cola.” 

And then this mom gives it to her in a bottle.  You drink it, lady, and then let’s try to peel you off the ceiling.  Or better yet, let’s subject this mom to a spray-tanning, hairpiece-flaunting, corset-tightening, Red Bull-chugging regimen, and let’s find out how much she likes it.  This woman is drugging her child with stimulants, and it could have serious medical consequences. Will someone please call Child Protective Services?  These people aren’t fit to be parents.

Again, my heart is in my throat witnessing the hyper-sexualization of these girls.  A local “glitz” pageant was profiled in the episode I watched, and in that one competition was featured a three-year-old dressed like a Vegas showgirl, and another dressed like Marilyn Monroe.  But these were tame compared to the girls who won.  The “Beauty Supreme” winner looked like she was wearing a miniature stripper costume.  And the “Grand Supreme” winner?  She takes the prize for working it in Julia Roberts’ costume from Pretty Woman, compete with blond wig and thigh-high black leather boots.

These girls are babies, just three years old and under.  When did sugar and spice become leather and lace?  This is deeply disturbing on many levels.  Child exploitation is a very real, and something that all parents need to be vigilant about.  Perhaps TLC should rethink giving these misguided pageant parents a platform in the first place.


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