The hit reality show, Toddlers & Tiaras, first premiered on The Learning Channel (TLC) in 2009. It features little girls competing in beauty pageants and their – usually – obnoxious mothers taking the whole affair quite seriously. These moms take many lengths to ensure their daughter’s success in these judgmental competitions. They spend more money than they can probably afford on outfits, make-up, hair products and training….all for little girls. When they are dressed up in their pageant wear, I personally think they’re scary to look at. They look much older than is natural. Who decided a toddler should wear cosmetics?
There have been many controversies on the show since it has aired. The article below lists five of the most talked about scandals, all involving what the mothers of these girls pushed them to do for the sake of winning pageants. One mom thought it would be a “cute” idea to have her daughter fake smoking a candy cigarette during the talent portion while doing a dance from Grease. Another placed padding in her daughter’s outfit to create the effect of big breasts and a big butt, because she was supposed to be portraying Dolly Parton. The article also speculates whether or not it’s physical abuse to have a child’s eyebrows waxed against their will. Many toddlers featured on the show cry when it’s time to go through this painful procedure. It may not be that much to handle for an adult, but I would imagine it would feel more intensified if I was only four years old.
The main question we must ask about this show, even if produced largely for comedic effect, is how it is affecting the children who are raised in such an environment. These toddlers are given unhealthy, huge self-esteem boosts from a young age, and are taught that looks mean everything. They are then continuously judged on their looks in these “beauty pageants.” This is just an additional factor contributing to the instability of female body images. In my opinion, our society needs to begin putting less emphasis on the importance of appearance, and one of the first steps would be to stop integrating children into this lifestyle at such an early age (and also not make these kind of shows).