In early-January of 2009, a new phenomenon emerged in television history, Toddlers & Tiaras. Toddlers & Tiaras documents the innocent lives of children from the ages of two through ten, and maybe younger, in the glitz world of child pageantry. The reality show showcases three pageant families per episode and each episode is around 46 minutes, without commercial breaks. Toddler & Tiaras has become a raging success, having five seasons (84 episodes), and giving a pageant family their own spin-off series, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Many people see this reality show as being controversial for its “sexualization” of these young children, the portrayal of the children’s parents, and the means in which the parent and child take in order to win the tiara.
Many critics and viewers see this show as controversial for its “sexualization” of young children. Most pageant moms dress their children with opulent, alluring, and elaborate dresses and outfit that can be seen as nothing, but innocent. Controversy arose when Wendy Dickey, a pageant mom, dressed her three year old in a prostitute costume; she argued that it was nothing but a comedic costume. Well at least she didn’t put her daughter out on the streets with just fishnets and hooker boots.
Four-year old Destiny took the pageant stage dressed in Sandy’s “cool” leather jacket (from the movie Grease), but the costume wasn’t complete without a prop cigarette; the judges were outraged of the fact that she had a fake cigarette, however, she won the pageant competition that day, at least it wasn’t a real cigarette, not that would have been inappropriate. Maddy Jackson, now five, made headlines after appearing in TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras, wearing a Dolly Parton costume; people claimed that her mother was sexualizing her daughter by making her wear a long opulent pink gown, a white wig, and fake breasts. Even with all the controversy surrounding the “sexualization” of children, pageant keep putting their daughters in the same position ever time they enter a pageant competition.
Many critics and viewers have criticized the depiction of these child’s parents in Toddlers & Tiaras. Viewers have claimed that the mothers of these young innocent children are living their dream through their children; which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, giving the fact that they are so young and that they don’t know what they’re doing. The pageant mothers dispute that their children actually loves pageant competition. Many other people have alleged that the mothers are forcing their child to wear provocative clothing. The father of Maddy Jackson (the girl who wore the Dolly Parton costume) is battling the mother of his child for full custody of their daughter; he claims that she is an unfit mother by sexually exploiting their daughter by dressing her in a scandalous outfit. Whether or not the pageant contestant’s mothers are unfit parents, it’s ultimately the child’s decision if they choose to continue pageantry or not.
The most notable controversial aspect of Toddlers & Tiaras is the means in which the parents and child take to win the pageant (tiara). Other than using provocative dresses and outfits, parents create different strategies to win that tiara with the use of clippers, fake hair, waxing, sugar, and spray tans, which, aren’t going too far in winning that tiara. The clippers, fake teeth, and hair fake there are used to enhance the child’s physical appearance; they really look stunning with their fake enhancements. In a recent episode, it showed a scene where a mom was forcing her daughter to get her eyebrows waxed; yes, that’s what every small innocent girl needs. Not only was she begging for it to stop and not for the cloth strip to be ripped off, her mother commented that she would normally have held her down while the they rip off the cloth strip.
Sugar is very common in the use of boosting their energy and personality of the child. The mother of the child star in the Toddlers & Tiaras spin-off series, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, is frequently fed “Go Go Juice” which consists of a healthy blend of Mountain Dew and Red Bull; well of course, every child should drink energy drinks. The most commonly used item in the pageantry world is spray tans. Spray tans are used on your body to create a greater appearance of darker skin. Most of these mothers claim that their daughters look fabulous with spray tan on more than their natural skin tone; fake enhancements make you look prettier is wonderful advice to give to your daughter. Whatever the case may be, nothing is going too far if you’re trying to win the ultimate tiara.
Since the debut of Toddlers & Tiaras, it has sparked a great deal of controversy. Many criticize the reality show for its exploitation of young innocent girls, the depiction of the pageant girl’s parents, and the ways that the mothers and daughters in this show take in order to assure victory in a pageant competition. Nevertheless, Toddlers & Tiaras has been a huge success, and still continues to be a success. Most of the criticisms about this show are mostly towards the parents of these children; mostly stating that these parents are unfit to raise a child. However, in the United States it is legal to exploit, objectify, and sexualize children in this matter. Should we take action into changing the law?