November 9, 2010]-----Wrote and posted this article a few months ago and is reposting for I feel so strongly about this subject. Too many children are being hurt daily and the sad thing is, a large percentage of the time, it's at the hands of parents, knowingly and sometimes, unwittingly.
The first time I saw one of these shows, I couldn't believe my eyes. There were two in particular, "Toddlers and Tiaras" and "Little Miss Perfect," that left me speechless. Speechless, that parents were proudly parading their little babies... and I mean babies literally,cause the children ranged from toddler to about seven years old...across the stage in full beauty pageant regalia.
I know we're in the era of dumbing down America, where television execs seem to think that we thrive on mindless programming, ala the influx of "reality shows" where nothing is truly real-- but this one went from the absurd to the ridiculous to the downright dangerous.. It felt wrong on so many levels, oh let me count the ways.
The little girls were painted, primped,prodded before prancing out like trained ponies onto the stage. Their little faces were heavily made-up like strippers trying out for Freaky Fridays, their hair or wigs were coiffed and sprayed. I even saw one child being spray tanned and another taken to the dentist to be fitted with veneers. She still had her baby teeth!
Then there were the clothes. Brittney meets exotic dancer. Sexy and little girls should not be in the same sentence, but there is no other way to describe the costumes and some of the performances.
What were these parents thinking? Then again, to display your very young daughters, some of them clearly protesting, is exploitative. Yes, I said exploitative. So I don't think much thought went into the why.
Some parents tried to justified this poor display of judgment by likening the beauty pageant to sports and building self esteem. Let's see--in sports, children compete based on skill and ability, while in beauty pageants, heavy emphasis is placed on looks, namely, beauty.
The kids do not compete with their natural look, they wear copious make-up. The finished image does not look like the real child. They are made to look like artificial grown-up dolls in little girls bodies. These little girls are objectified and are being taught, by their parents, that it is ok. They are being taught at this tender age, that beauty trumps everything else. It's appalling.
Even more heartbreaking is, some of the children didn't seem to want to be in pageants. The Moms had to prod and poke to get them into their costumes. I think some of these parents are, sadly, living vicariously through their children and it so much more about their lost dreams than anything else. I think this clouds the parents' judgment. They cannot see how parading their little girls across the country and on television primped, preened and scantily clad, might be dangerous both psychologically and physically. Pedophiles must love these shows.
Parents wake up. Please let your little girls be little girls. Let them play dress-up in the safety and comfort of their homes. That's where it is suppose to happen, naturally and innocently.