Toddlers and Tiaras – are child beauty pageants wrong?

TV in Malta is unbelievably bad, well in terms of what’s available in English anyway. I’m subjected on a daily basis to BBC Entertainment (EastEnders is about a month behind the UK, which actually works out ok for me as that’s when I last watched it in Spain), E! which has opened my eyes to the world of Playboy Bunnies and the Kardashians and of course Discovery Travel & Living which has me watching Toddlers and Tiaras – usually in disbelief!

If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching this show here’s a clip for you:

This is a tame clip of the show compared to some of the episodes I’ve seen. They can include anything from children as young as 3 or 4 having makeup troweled onto their faces, having numerous coverings of spray tan because they’re “not dark enough” and having their eyebrows waxed or plucked. Not to mention the teeth whitening or being made to wear a “flipper” which creates an illusion of perfect teeth and is rather like a gum shield. Then of course there is sheer expense of all of the dresses, pageant tickets and hair and beauty which amounts to thousands of dollars a time. Plus the girls dancing about on stage in swimwear (which is glued down so it doesn’t ride up their butts by the way!) in front of some rather questionable looking judges.

What’s not to like? As one mum so eloquently put it “I guess you’ll think we’re doing something wrong if you have an ugly child” – yeah that’ll be it! I do however agree with one of the dads when he said “It makes her look like a midget prostitute” of his daughter. These kids don’t look like children, infact that is the only way I can describe them “midget prostitutes”  which is a terrible thing to say- they look like miniature versions of the women I used to see standing on slip roads waiting for business in Spain, even their dresses are scarily alike!

Of course some of these children seem sweet enough, others are divas in the making and can throw an almighty hissy fit at the drop of a hat, which this now famous clip shows:

When I was younger I loved dressing up and I often tried on my mums make-up, much to her dismay when she found me smeared in her latest lipstick from head to toe. I liked nothing more than putting on a “show” for family with my sister, strutting our stuff in our new outfits or singing a song. But would I have liked to be in a pageant? Probably not.

The amount of pressure that seems to be put on these children to win a coveted title, to be crowned “the most beautiful” (actually one of the titles they can get) or the most photogenic seems unfair at such a young age. One contestant was told by her mother not to gain weight because she wouldn’t fit into her dress and declared that she didn’t mind because her mum just wanted her to be thin and beautiful. It seems an unhealthy message for a child so young to learn, that you have to be thin to be beautiful or you have to be crowned “the most beautiful”. When it’s what you’re brought up to think surely that can lead to all kinds of insecurities as you grow older.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe these kids grow up to be completely self assured, with no hint of diva in sight, but it’s certainly not something I’d ever encourage my daughter in pursuing.

Are beauty pageants nothing but a bit of fun? Should children be encouraged to look like children for as long as possible? What do you think?


18 responses to “Toddlers and Tiaras – are child beauty pageants wrong?

  1. I hate the bloody things. Missy Woo is v girlie, likes to dress up and put on my make up if I let her but there is no way I’d put her in for something like that. It is just not right to judge small girls totally on their appearance. I tell my daughter she is beautiful. I never mention her weight and I never obsess about mine in her presence. I’m losing weight but I make sure I never mention the D word and I have normal food with them. If I don’t want something fattening, I’ll say I’m not hungry or I’m alright.

  2. I can’t even watch the programme as it annoys me too much.
    (and I hate BBC entertainment!)

  3. seasiderinthecity

    hate them, hate them, hate them! I find it so sad. Young girls have enough hang-ups without their parents adding to them.

    Great post, kind of makes me want to watch it though just out of interest…

  4. It does make me cringe, but somehow I found myself watching it this week on DMAX. I feel so dirty…

  5. I think it’s child abuse really from the one person a child should be able to trust to love her as she is. Horrible, can’t and don’t watch! Oh completely off topic but on my blog today is a competition about what could I bring an expat from home. You could win something cool from Australia. It’s just a bit of a laugh.

    Hope you don’t mind me posting the link here. Vx

  6. Oh btw came here via Blow Your Bloghorn!

  7. It’s awful isn’t it… so much more than dressing up. I feel so sorry for some of these little girls, there was one recently (have only watched around two, it draws you in!) and the girl was very normal looking and all the other girls were evil to her… 😦 Came here via BYBH… Emma 🙂

  8. It’s a whole world of wrong. Didn’t a child pageant star get murdered a while back in the states? Little girls dressing up is normal, being paraded round with 3 inches of make up and little clothing is very far removed from normal, clearly these mothers are demented.

  9. To be honest they completely creep me out and I think they are wrong. I also think the parents are wrong to put their children through it and are sending out a very, very misguided message. Having said that, the clips were the first time I’ve seen this programme and I can see how it would be addictive viewing!

  10. I don’t know much about them, but from what I have seen I do not agree with them at all. I have a 14 week old daughter and I want her to be girly cause I am and I am looking forward to having fun with her but I certainly would not put her in makeup and dress her up like a barbie doll.

    This is a great post. I found you on the Blow your Own Blog Horn page!

  11. I don’t like them..

  12. I wish they’d do a show on this subject but solely about the parents. After all this is what this is about isn’t it: the parents living vicariously through their little ones?
    I’d love to find out what is going on in that mummy’s head when she is seeing her daughter prancing and preening on the stage in full make up mimicking adult sexual moves.
    Why do we condone this?
    I do agree though it is absolutely car crash viewing.

  13. Something about toddlers in high heels and fake tans just rubs me the wrong way! nice post.

  14. Yeah, I totally agree with what you and your readers have said so far.
    I wonder how many of these mothers will live to regret it when their little darlings grow up to have serious eating disorders and be the biggest b*tches in town? I really feel for these little girls because they are being made to participate in adult activities while they should be kept sweet and innocent!

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