Toddlers and Tiaras: a guilty pleasure

October 20, 2011

Dirty Hands, Political Theory


I am an avid television watcher. I will watch anything from the food network to Disney channel and be entirely captivated by the action on the screen. I hate to admit that trashy television programs are my guilty pleasure. Recently, however, some of my favorites have been called into question. While I have disregarded all the backlash about shows like Jersey Shore and Kid Nation (I told you, I watch everything…), recently I have had a hard time ignoring the criticism of the show Toddlers and Tiaras. If you’ve seen the show, you know its appeal. It is hard to watch the tantrums and materialism that occur on the show and still process that you are watching real children.  And yet, when six-year old Eden snaps her “flippers” into her mouth, it is actually real life.

Many critics of the show fear how young viewers will react to what they see on TV. Diana Levin, publicized author, cites the example of 4-year-old Maddy Jackson in her critique of the show. On last season, Maddy wore fake boob pads and a butt pad in order to impersonate Dolly Parton during the costume section of the competition. This was the deal breaker for Levin. While she understands pushing the boundaries, she feels this has gone to far. “Not every little girl will want to dress like this, but they may want to get closer to it. It doesn’t seem as extreme, so little girls can move further along the sexualized continuum.” Levin said. Levin stresses that viewers protest the show.

In addition to Levin’s main condemnation, others have also voiced a different concern for the pageant girls themselves. At such a young age, these girls do not know what they are getting themselves into. In the show, there is a section for babies, only a mere few months old. The show is even called “Toddlers and Tiaras.” Does a toddler really have a say in their decision-making or is the mother the driving force behind their entrance into the pageants?

Many protesters are arguing that laws should be passed, limiting the ability of TLC to produce such a show. The opposers are pushing for a reduction on the advertisements allowed to play throughout the show, cutting back TLC’s money to fund the program. And then, there are those who go beyond just fighting the show, and wish to ban the pageants all together.

However, is this right? Susanna Barrett, a mother to 5-year-old pageant winner Isabella, does not agree with this argument. She explains that there a benefits to pageants that are over looked. Her family became involved in the pageant world after her eldest child was involved in a traumatic accident that left her face scarred and mangled. To combat her daughters new low self-esteem, they mutually decided she should enter a beauty pageant. She claims it was love at first sight.

So, does cutting beauty pageants really fall under the jurisdiction of the government? I feel that while the government’s job is to protect the people, it is not their right to make the decision for the families of pageant girls. It is too hard to say that all pageants harm girls, when there is clear evidence that in some situations this is not the case. It seems that the matter is personal and should be kept this way. But then again, look at the pictures… Is it really okay for a 5-year-old to strut her stuff as a street-walker for the world to see?

 

 

Sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2011/09/08/toddlers-tiaras-and-thigh-high-boots-3-year-olds-hooker-outfit/

http://www.andersoncooper.com/2011/10/18/toddlers-and-tiaras-tlc-moms-defend-child-beauty-pageants/

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24 Comments on “Toddlers and Tiaras: a guilty pleasure”

  1. maddycaroline Says:

    I have seen this show many times before, and while it is captivating to watch, it is still very disturbing the way parents let their young children strut around in such provocative outfits. I am all for letting kids dress how they want, to let them express their own personality however I draw the line at when a child is dressed to express their parents ambitions, not their own. Many of the parents on the show seem to have failed in their own attempts to gain fame and recognition, and so therefore have turned to their children to do it for them. These ‘stage’ parents (more often seen as the mothers) live through their children, even if it seems like those children are having fun while performing. Yet, I don’t think that TLC should be unable to make a television show about these children because, no matter how disturbing, it is good entertainment. The spoiled brats we call children, with their tantrums and big hair, provide many laughs and have a high entertainment value for humor.

    There are many things wrong with the concept of beauty pageants, however there are still some benefits. Any type of performance allows for the building of self-esteem. The children can express themselves in a public environment and therefore can be in the public eye. Whether this is a good type of self-esteem is a different question, yet it still does provide a way to escape a shy personality especially considering the fact that the girls who continue with pageants and go on to compete for a state, national or ‘universe’ title are (usually) successful people.

    No matter what pageants do for young children, or how much their stage parents force them into doing them, they still allow for something outside of the house that they have to work hard at instead of just sitting around. They have become part of a tradition in certain parts of american society and there is really no reason to shut them down. Is it really that bad for young children to feel beautiful and adored by the public? I don’t think so.

  2. leannaprairie Says:

    I don’t actually think there is anything wrong with pageants, but I do think there is something wrong with parents pushing their children to dress so scandalously. I think the main issue here is that pageant directors allow and even encourage such clothing. However, I don’t think that legislation is required to change this, but simply common sense. It would be so easy for these girls to have fun showing off their favorite outfits (maybe a Dora the Explorer costume), or by singing their hearts out a la Sophia Grace Brownlee (but seriously, if you haven’t seen this video, watch it now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7hTAp6KrGY).

    These girls don’t have to be provocative to participate in pageants, but it will take some change on the part of the pageant directors.

  3. alexwillard Says:

    While I don’t agree with the idea of young girls wearing provocative outfits, I do believe it is a parent’s choice to dress their children in ways they deem appropriate. This activity is not that far off from parents wanting their children to play football. Having played football from the age of 7 all the way up to my years in high school, I was always taught to be aggressive and cause as much physical harm to an opponent as was allowed by the rules. During my years of football I garnered the belief that aggression and causing pain was perfectly fine.

    In societal terms, I think having these aggressive tendencies should not be tolerated; however, they are something we encourage and cheer for when watching football. Does this mean we should ban football? No, because by playing football one also learns the principles of discipline, dedication, hard work, and time management. Likewise, beauty pageants probably teach girls about time management, having high self-esteem, overcoming fears of public speaking and other valuable principles that will help them later in life.

    While, I do not like seeing young girls dressed and acting so scantily at pageants and young boys acting so aggressive/ abusive when playing football, I do think that there are other valuable lessons that come with these activities. So these events should not be viewed from the negative perspective alone, and should by no means be cut by the government.

  4. blogger32 Says:

    This is a cool post. Although I have never seen Toddlers and Tiaras, I think that the program definitely brings about questions having to do with “right and wrong.” Is it right for parents to allow their young daughter to strut around on national television wearing boob and butt implants? Are television companies going too far to try and create “entertaining” television programs?

    When trying to answer a these questions, a few things came to mind. If I was a young girl who’s parents entered them in these beauty pageants which happen to be broadcasted on national TV, would I be happy to watch the video of the show when I was say 18 years old? Although these shows will most definitely long be forgotten by the time these girls grow older, is it fair for their parents to decide if it’s ok to parade them around television wearing fake boob and butt implants? To me this sends a really negative message about parenthood: if you pay adults enough money, they are willing to do just about anything, even if that means embarrassing their children in front of millions of people.

    Another thought that comes to mind, is that at this young age these girls are being treated like television personalities and celebrities. As a parent, I would not want my 5 year old having make up put on her and treated like some kind of super star. By allowing children to participate in these shows, parents are instilling values, that in my opinion, are not ideal for a young girl to possess. Also, I feel like we are forgetting one thing…in beauty pageants there must be a winner and a loser, and the last thing I would want to do as a parent is make my daughter face all of America thinking she wasn’t good enough.

  5. adamskt Says:

    I’ve also never seen an entire episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, but I have seen enough segments and commercials to feel somewhat horrified at what these parents have allowed their children to do and wear. However, I do not think that TLC should suffer any consequences from airing this show. As a reality show, they are technically just filming what would already be occurring. Although it is possible that contestants and their families change their behavior when film crews are around, I do not think that is likely; they are essentially on a national stage already, just by being involved in the pageants. TLC has not done anything more than bring this type of lifestyle to our attention, and should not face consequences for it. Further, forcing the show off the air would not have an effect on the actual troubling behaviors.

    I have not seen enough of the show to determine if the girls are generally happy to go along with what their mothers are asking them to wear. Yet regardless of if they are or not, I do not believe they have enough knowledge or life experience to make this decision on their own. There is a reason that people are not considered adults until 18, and that is because they are considered unable to make important decisions for themselves until that age. The responsibility of the decision belongs to the parents at this point in their child’s life, and they are the ones responsible for actions that their toddler children take. If any action could even be taken against this situation, it would have to be brought to the attention of the parents, rather than the network. However, I do not believe that there are any grounds for action to be taken here. Just because this show may involve ideas that we are not comfortable with, does not mean we have the right to force them to stop.

  6. erfreed3 Says:

    Like a few of the other bloggers, I also have not had a chance to watch “Toddlers and Tiaras”. However, I would argue that neither TLC should be harmed for airing the show nor should there be a law passed against beauty pageants. Concerning TLC, as adamskt said in their comment, the show is intended to be reality television and so it is filming real life. Due to this, it makes sense that not everything that ends up on the show will be seen as politically correct. As a result, I do not believe that TLC should suffer for it. I would suggest that instead of banning the show or making TLC pay a fine, there should be a reevaluation on what the show chooses to portray. Sure, it’s “reality” tv but that doesn’t mean it is necessary to show a 5 year old walking around with hardly any clothes on. In fact, I don’t disagree with what Diana Levin says. I concur that toddlers filmed with boob pads and butt pads isn’t something I want to see. However, I would hope that this cannot possibly be the true and only essence of the show.

    Furthermore, I feel the main issue at hand is that of harm. As John Stuart Mill would argue, freedom of expression should be allowed unless it harms another. In my opinion, I do see how this show may been by parents and others, as harmful to young toddlers in portraying self image. That is why I suggest that the show should be reevaluated, so parents, the producers, and TLC alike can come to a sort of compromise.

    Regarding your last point on beauty pageants, I would say that people pushing for a banishment of not just the show, but pageants altogether, are going to far. To me, it is unreasonable to assume that just because “Toddlers and Tiaras” portrays pageants in a certain manner, that all pageants have a negative influence. As Susanna Barret claims, it has had a very positive influence on her family. To generalize all pageants based on a television show, seems highly irrational. That’s like saying, “I saw kids playing hockey on television and one of the kids hurt himself. Thus, I think child hockey should be banned.” It’s ridiculous.

  7. dannilevin9492 Says:

    Many people “dis” the media because of it’s negative effects on society. These negative effects range from personal image issues such as anorexia to exploited versions of the truth. Somewhere within this spectrum falls the negative repercussions of reality television shows like Toddlers and Tiaras. Toddlers and Tiaras, to me, is one of those shows I watch to purely laugh at its ridiculousness. The mere idea of toddlers prancing around, bossing around their families, and trying to win full-throtle beauty pageants is disturbing at the least. And, that is what makes it such a popular show within society. As much as people may disagree with the politics of the show, it still sky-rockets on ratings because viewers find it extremely entertaining.

    I feel Toddlers and Tiaras poses many political controversies. One on hand, as stated in the post above, the show has the capabilities to be emotionally stimulating in a positive manner. By this I mean that this show could be one in which little girls try to over come their fears through participating in beauty pageants. Just as the little girl who suffered a trauma to her face and brought the family together by overcoming her trouble of beauty by partaking in the pageants. If this show took this spin, it would convey a completely different response by its viewers. Instead of cracking smiles of ridicule, it could create smiles and perhaps tears of joy. Unfortunately, Toddlers and Tiaras does not have this particular spin. It instead shows ridiculous mothers forcing their little, innocent children to act an age much older and more mature than they are by getting out and performing absurd stunts in front of a crowd to win nothing but a simple trophy. Yes it is true that with winning comes a sense of jubilation, but there are much better ways in which little toddlers should experience such jubilation. At a young age, kids have the ability to experience everything at some point in their lifetime. If one of these experiences includes beauty pageants, then so be it, but I don’t believe that around age five is the right time to do this. Showing Americans and others who may watch the show outside of this country these actions, shows a corrupt side to our society: one in which little kids are zapped their sense of innocence by partaking in a career with harsh realities that even adults suffer from.

    Imagine a five year old watching her diet simply because she wants to win a beauty pageant. What does this simple idea say about the effect of this show on our society?

  8. danieltarockoff Says:

    This show has sparked a lot of controversy since its debut, and it continues to do so. I get it-the pictures are disturbing, and completely out of the social “norm” we are used to. Nobody wants to see a 5-year-old girl look “sexy,” except for maybe a pedophile. However, I think it has been widely negatively reviewed without considering what’s really going on. These girls are not trying to display themselves as “sexy,” they are trying to win a pageant. If you want to debate the idea of pageants altogether then I can understand. They seem, to me, to degrade women and promote sexuality. If you’re going to say this is wrong for a 5-year-old or younger to be participating in, you should also believe it’s wrong for an adult woman to participate in. What’s the cut off age? What age are girls suddenly women and able to be “sexy?”

    This is definitely not something people should attack TLC for, however. Like everyone else, they are simply a company who wants to make money. Toddlers and Tiaras brings in tons of revenue because, whether you agree or not, it’s entertaining. People watch it. The show is just detailing actual lives of people. If you want to be mad at someone, attack the parents, if anything. The only thing different between adult pageants and child pageants is that the adults are more “able” in the choice process of whether or not they want to participate. The real controversial issue with Toddlers and Tiaras, at least for me, is watching the little girls crying and peeling off their fake eyelashes while their parents yell at them and tell them now is not the time to throw a tantrum. I call that child abuse. Regardless, the show continues to air and has been a huge hit. I doubt it will go away soon. On the same note, I think more, even racier shows will come out in the future. The real power you have (if against the show) is to simply not watch it; the only reason it continues to air is because it’s popular. So turn off your TV’s and solve the problem! (If only it were that easy…)

  9. amgille Says:

    I too am addicted to trash television, more than my fair share probably, and I can understand the debate behind Toddlers in Tiaras. Admittedly, I was mortified when I saw the breast implants and butt enhancers on the episode of Dolly Parton and I question whether mothers truly know what they are doing to their children. At the same time though, during the participants mental breakdowns of the show, mothers are often asking their children whether they really want to do this pageant and they wouldn’t be disappointed in them if they quit. While I am sure this is also not the case, they do support their daughters in everything that they do. They may be in it for the glory for themselves and may seem to be living through them, they do provide attention a and love to their children in a way that fits their family. I find this a better solution than ignoring a child in the long run. Additionally, while the costumes are scandalous and are becoming more so, it should be up to the mothers’ discretion on what she chooses to dress her daughter in. It seems as if scandalous clothing in the beauty pageant industry has become a norm, and while it doesn’t bode well with the rest of society, it is strictly limited to that circle of time.

    To the taking away of Toddlers and Tiaras on TLC, though I am slightly biased, I disagree. It offers a different look at society than other shows. If this show was taken off the air, who’s to say that Jersey Shore shouldn’t be taken off either? Kids of all ages are able to watch both TLC and MTV. If a parent is concerned with how their children are being taught through the media, they should have stronger parental controls on their televisions.

    Whether beauty pageants should be taken away of is a matter I completely disagree with also. Beauty pageants can teach good values to girls. They teach them hard work (have you seen how much they practice for these pageants?!), discipline, and give them self-esteem. Any girl wants to feel beautiful, and if she finds that feeling, like Isabelle, through beauty pageants, all the more power to her. It also might help to think of as a way for girls to help pay for college. The girls can win scholarships through the pageants, promoting higher education in the long run.

  10. madelinedunn Says:

    This post reminded me of a conversation that my mother and I had this past weekend. Apparently, my 10 year old brother, who is as innocent as can be or so I thought, told my mom that he needs to be a bad boy because all of the hot chicks like bad boys. This type of response to media inflicted morals is outrageous and unfortunately unstoppable. The government cannot do much to restrict shows that signify these types of mature and sometimes completely false concepts. It is unfortunate that many girls do like the bad boy, but it is not the governments job to restrict shows from portraying this belief, just as they cannot be expected to sensor shows such as Toddlers in Tiaras. Whether they should be allowed to cut the pageants completely is a topic with many emotional ties associated with it. Some families truly believe that their daughters love walking the runways. Whether or not we subject ourselves to watching these 5 year olds strut their stuff is completely up to us.

    You pay for these cable network stations. If it was on a broadcast station such as NBC or ABC that would be different; frankly I don’t think they would allow it. Broadcast networks have a responsibility to uphold that cable networks do not. Broadcast networks are under certain FCC guidelines that make sure a family doesn’t turn on the television to see raunchy, aggressive or mature shows that you may find on HBO. Rossie Hutchinson, my COMM101 professor, stated that, broadcast stations “have to serve the public interest, convenience or necessity” otherwise they will loose the ability to renew their license. When it comes to cable, the interest of the sponsors involved with the program are sometimes more important to networks than what is good for the public. There will always be someone to view your show, but who is going to pay for it?

    So when shows lie Toddlers in Tiaras make people upset and angry, who do they run to? Not the FCC. Do they confront the people making money off the show? Do these sponsors or cable stations care if you are offended? Probably not, since you paid to have the show come into your home and you have the ability to change the channel.

  11. mfriedlander92 Says:

    I don’t agree with the message that these type of shows send out to their audience and I personally don’t approve of dressing your little girl up like she is a doll, cake on makeup, and parade around a group of judges in hopes of winning a pageant. However, I don’t think that the government has any right in stepping in with these types of situations. There is no evidence proving that these pageants harm the participants or the viewers of shows such as Toddlers and Tiaras; which means the government has no role in trying to stop this type of behavior.

    I don’t judge the TV station for playing a show like this because let’s be real, it is intriguing in the kind of “This is disgusting and I shouldn’t watch it, but damn I need to know if little Tiffany wins” way and traps a lot of people into watching it. TLC has the complete right to air this show because it doesn’t harm anyone and it is a reality show, so this is real life. If viewers are upset with this show, then don’t watch it. What I judge is the character of the mothers who put their children in situations like this. Maybe I just don’t understand this lifestyle, but to me I think it is sick. The links above to the websites that include pictures of the girls in the pageants are sickening. They don’t even look like little girls, they now resemble plastic barbies.

    So besides the fact I think that this show is disgusting (but also addictive), the government has no right to step in and tell TLC that they can’t create this show because it is not harming anyone. The government also can’t step in and tell the parents that they think what they are doing is wrong, because everyone has free will to do whatever they want and if the behavior isn’t harming anyone then I guess it is okay. In the end there is no way of finding out if pageants are harming or helping girls, and I think that it can be both in some cases; however I don’t think there is anything the government can do to stop this program from continuing. But tell me, do you think that it is by any means appropriate to let your child prance around being looked at as a sex symbol as young as age 4? But how is the government supposed to tell parents that they are making the wrong decision for their children’s life?

  12. samyoovpolsci Says:

    I have seen this show once before and was too freaked out to watch it again. I am, to a certain degree, disgusted by this show as i reckon it promotes superficiality and to most part, the fact that young kids are dressed in slutty clothing, wearing makeup just seems unnatural and wrong. Furthermore, from the short episode i saw, it seemed as if most of the contestants were enjoying themselves, but more interestingly, it was the parents who were even more involved, as if they were living vicariously through their daughter’s beauty. I agree with the post’s query that the young girls on this tv show may lack the ability to make rational decisions for themselves,and may be pressured by their parents in participating in both the pageants and the tv show. However, i do not think that the government or the law should be involved in this issue. Although to some of the viewership (myself included) this show may seem inappropriate, for better for worse, there are many child contestants there who genuinely like being on stage, being on tv and simply, being the center of attention. Also, these pageants nor the TV show aren’t breaking any laws so this should be one of those issue that the social outrage and disgust should force off the air, if it ever comes to that.

  13. sbsmoler92692 Says:

    I strongly disagree with the idea of pageants, but personally understand that it is a freedom of expression and a constitutional right for us as American citizens to express ourselves. The concept of pageants is so wrong, as it allows for one girl to be singled out and identified as “more beautiful” than other select girls. Competitive beauty pageants for younger children, as chronicled within the “Toddlers and Tiara’s” series specifically pushes young “toddlers” to become and act more like adults. It robs them of a sense of youth, as they are forced to wear rather revealing and sexual adult styled clothing, and pounds of makeup. The children on the show are completely brainwashed from their stage mom mothers who have given them no choice but to be raised and brought up with this lifestyle. It does make a person wonder, if it is actually the child’s choice to become involved in competitive beauty pageants or rather the mother’s trying to live vicariously though their toddlers.
    In response to your question as to whether government should interfere and ban such an act of expression, I do not think it is their governmental right or duty to interfere in that way. One must make sure however, that it is the children that actually WANT to do it, instead of the parents and over-bearing mothers forcing and pressuring their kids into this type of competitive lifestyle, at such an early age.

  14. Lilian Baek Says:

    The world of beauty pageants has always been an ongoing debate. In one aspect, one could consider transforming toddlers and little girls like grown women bordering on child abuse. The families portrayed on TLC’s “Toddlers & Tiaras” insisted that is family-oriented, a harmless hobby that instills important qualities such as poise and excellence. Although I am not a religious viewer of “Toddlers & Tiaras”, I have heard many controversies surrounding it. But, it is sad to see the show based on sexualizing young girls for entertainment value. With shows such as this, it is only inevitable that children are being sexualized at younger and younger ages. The images that are being displayed are a result of an attempt to create the perfect girl. Thus, from the fake nails to the hair, children will have the wrong notion that they are expected to act and look a certain way because they are not acceptable who they are. In addition, these pageant moms are robbing the small kids of their childhood. The show represents how some people in our society have lost touch with common sense and reality. The lengths some of the parents go in order to transform their daughters into miniature beauty queens is absurd. To me, it shows that they have a pretty skewed perception of what is appropriate for a little girl. On top of that, they are desperate to relive all their childhood dreams through their children. They are trying to fill the void of insecurities, inadequacies and opportunities they never had the chance of experiencing. As a result, this show sends a negative message to girls all over the world.

    By focusing on the superficiality of the pageant, it will cause future emotional and physical consequences. Despite some parents’ insistence that being on stage and participating in pageants encourage confidence in a competitive setting, it does not outweigh the sense of insecurity it may cause in the young girls. “Toddlers & Tiaras” promotes a detrimental message to a big part of society and is the force behind the destruction of many children’s lives. It is ironic that this show is broadcasted through The Learning Channel (TLC). What exactly are we learning here? That is acceptable to watch toddlers and young girls dressed as a prostitute showing off her sexy strut? Seeing as how most of these contestants have not even learned to read or write, this type of portrayal is repulsing if you ask me. Lastly, this issue reminded me of an earlier, similar issue that shows to what extent parents will go for their daughters to engage in beauty pageants. To learn more about this story WATCH: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/pageant-mom-gives-botox-8-year-old-13586808

  15. Kaitlin Lapka Says:

    First, I think it is easy extremely interesting to note that TLC is “the Learning Channel” What are we learning here? Toleration? The wrong-doings of others? How to raise your children? Regardless of my opinion, this is a clear case of Mill’s arguement for freedom of expression. This show provides viewers with another view on an issue. Perhaps, according to Mill’s arguements, Toddlers and Tiara’s is benefitting the human race; how else can you describe our discussion and learning on this blog? Maybe the Learning Channel is fufilling their goal. If we silenced the tv show, would we be robbing the human race?

    Now on to my comment to add. The previous post stated, “The images that are being displayed are a result of an attempt to create the perfect girl. Thus, from the fake nails to the hair, children will have the wrong notion that they are expected to act and look a certain way because they are not acceptable who they are… The lengths some of the parents go in order to transform their daughters into miniature beauty queens is absurd. To me, it shows that they have a pretty skewed perception of what is appropriate for a little girl… As a result, this show sends a negative message to girls all over the world.” In response, my comment is what about boys? This show has been criticized for it’s affects on girls, but boys also participate in the show raising the same childhood issues, along with gender roles and sexuality issues, Like we once discussed in class, there are biological and social constraints on men and women. For example, we are genetically made up differently and also things are considered “masculine” and “feminine”. Is Toddler’s and Tiara’s giving ascriptive identity (when someone’s identity is described and assigned to them) to boys? Or is it as justified as girls on the tv show? Would we still say Mill’s applies to boys on the show? I think in society today, we can not help but feel a little differently about boys. What do you think?

    Check this mom and her two boys out on the link below.

  16. bmjasper Says:

    For years, beauty pageants have helped demote young women’s self esteems, while at the same time, increased the likelihood that other young women become self-destructive and develop eating disorders. Beauty pageants set an unrealistic standard of what is considered beautiful and attractive. The outcome of setting this standard of beauty so extraordinarily high is that it is nearly impossible to live up to, yet, some women spend their entire lives attempting to. These women often resort to having, sometimes very dangerous, plastic surgeries in order to alter their appearance into something more ‘beautiful’. Other women become extremely depressed and develop self-harming habits and eating disorders. Others simply decide that they cannot live up to this idea of beauty and take their own lives. Beauty pageants, carelessly, promote the message that if you are not the most beautiful woman in the room, then you are a loser.

    • marckarpinos31 Says:

      I agree with bmjasper in the sense that these beauty pageants could be truly detrimental to grown women yet alone young children. He brings up an interesting point by describing the mindset of these beauty pageants stating “Beauty pageants, carelessly, promote the message that if you are not the most beautiful woman in the room, then you are a loser.”

      With that being said to address your comments I do think pageants contribute to self-esteem issues for girls and lead to many psychological problems. While I don’t believe this is reason enough for the government to step in and control pageants, I do think shows like the one you alluded to are ridiculous and something 5 year olds should not be subjected to

  17. beaurh Says:

    Agreeing with bmjasper, the issue lies in what consequences (mentally, emotionally, physically) the child will have later. These young girls grow up with constant competition and fear of failure. This is a recipe for destructive habits, especially when the girl is already going through teenage angst and developing self-identity. These girls have been dressed up and judged since age 5, and now they will continue to believe that they are being judged and must be the best. It is sickening to believe that parents live vicariously through a five year old daughter without a notion that this may have extremely detrimental consequences to the daughter’s self-esteem and how she views herself.

    With that being said, I do not believe there can be any legal restrictions against televising this show. Toddler beauty pageants are not illegal, so neither should a television show depicting the practice. These pageants bring money to the families and to TLC. TLC simply found a show that they knew people would watch, no matter how disturbing the content may be. TLC is just trying to make money, so if people have an issue with the show, convince others to stop watching forcing TLC to take the show off the air.

  18. sgbraid Says:

    The post raises good questions because there can potential psychological effects on these little girls when they grow up. Also, I have issues with Susanna Barrett’s — the mother of the 5 year-old beauty pageant winner — beliefs about beauty pageants and showcasing little girls. She claims that it combats self-esteem but I would claim different. Beauty pageants are all about judgements and physical appearance. it’s about getting up in front of an audience and being judged for your physical beauty and talents. It’s one of the most shallow competitions. How can that be good for one’s self esteem? I don’t understand why parents support this show when its clear that a fair majority of kids who appear on reality television shows suffer some sort of psychological effects in the future.

  19. kaitlinlapka Says:

    First, I think it is easy extremely interesting to note that TLC is “the Learning Channel” What are we learning here? Toleration? The wrong-doings of others? How to raise your children? Regardless of my opinion, this is a clear case of Mill’s arguement for freedom of expression. This show provides viewers with another view on an issue. Perhaps, according to Mill’s arguements, Toddlers and Tiara’s is benefitting the human race; how else can you describe our discussion and learning on this blog? Maybe the Learning Channel is fufilling their goal. If we silenced the tv show, would we be robbing the human race?

    Now on to my comment to add. The previous post stated, “The images that are being displayed are a result of an attempt to create the perfect girl. Thus, from the fake nails to the hair, children will have the wrong notion that they are expected to act and look a certain way because they are not acceptable who they are… The lengths some of the parents go in order to transform their daughters into miniature beauty queens is absurd. To me, it shows that they have a pretty skewed perception of what is appropriate for a little girl… As a result, this show sends a negative message to girls all over the world.” In response, my comment is what about boys? This show has been criticized for it’s affects on girls, but boys also participate in the show raising the same childhood issues, along with gender roles and sexuality issues, Like we once discussed in class, there are biological and social constraints on men and women. For example, we are genetically made up differently and also things are considered “masculine” and “feminine”. Is Toddler’s and Tiara’s giving ascriptive identity (when someone’s identity is described and assigned to them) to boys? Or is it as justified as girls on the tv show? Would we still say Mill’s applies to boys on the show? I think in society today, we can not help but feel a little differently about boys. What do you think?

    Check this mom and her two boys out on the link below.

  20. cchevat Says:

    There is a very big problem with shows like Toddlers and Tiaras based on the fact that the child does not ever really get a say in the matter. They are pushed into the mindset that winning is everything as well as appearances. On the show it may seem like the kids are enjoying themselves, but did they ever have the choice to choose otherwise? This definitely relates to what was brought in lecture this week about consent. Just like the example used in class, When did these toddlers ever consent to be involved in pageants?
    When one watches other pageantry such as Ms. Universe, there is not the issue because these women have had life experiences and are able to determine what they want from their lives. These little girls have not had the chance to have different experiences to figure out what is important to them. They are pushed into high pressure situations which are not really expected of children their age. I’ve never watched this show but a lot of it also depends on the parent’s intentions for their daughters. Maybe they thought that their daughter would thoroughly enjoy it. But other times it could be in order to help further their family economically with the capital reward that may come with winning. There may be reasons why the parents put their children on this show but it is still unsettling how it portrays that only fake hair and fake teeth are the way to get to the money. At least in the regular pageant competitions the winner participates in a year of community service, these toddlers would not even be able execute any sort of acts such as those.
    This situation is very viable with other reality television shows. For example, the show Jon and Kate Plus Eight (which ironically was also on TLC) publicized their children from the time they were extremely young. Now they are forced into a spotlight that they may or may not have wanted due to the attention their parents are receiving from the tabloids. While I am definitely a fan of reality television I do believe that shows which focus on children is wrong. Furthermore, the bottom line to all of this is that while children are children they should still be allowed a choice. I remember being young and having a choice whether I played soccer or took dance classes. As parents, they should value their child’s’ opinion to an extent and I believe that whether to be involved in pageants is one of those times.

  21. guysnick Says:

    This is a very strange but interesting topic to bring up. Ultimately, I think that whether or not young girls should be allowed to participate in youth beauty pageants like the ones portrayed on “Toddlers and Tiaras” should be left entirely up to the parents. While it is most definitely a controversial issue, and although many people believe it is wrong and immoral to put 5-year-olds dressed up like hookers on TV, it really comes down to the discretion of the parents of these 5-year-olds. It is a personal and familial issue. Who knows whether or not the toddlers enjoy the pageants. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. Their parents, as primary caregivers, should be the ones to recognize what is in their daughters’ best interest. The girls are too young to know what is right or wrong in this case. If the parents really think there’s nothing wrong with dressing their kids up in flashy outfits and entering them in pageants, so be it. Who are we to judge? They are not our kids or sisters or cousins. Let the families of these girls decide what is best for them. It is not necessary to start “boycotting” TLC over this.

    Personally, I do not think it is right to have 4- and 5-year-old girls performing in “beauty” pageants while wearing risqué outfits. In my opinion, these girls are too young to be showing off their bodies on national television. And I mean I understand that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but only a pedophile would think of toddlers as sexy or even physically attractive at all. I do think pageants like the ones on “Toddlers and Tiaras” are overexposure of these girls. They shouldn’t have to go on cross-country trips from city to city performing all the time. They should be in kindergarten.

    But, when it’s all said and done, it is really up to the parents. What I think or Diana Levin thinks or the show’s viewers think is irrelevant. Protesting the show would be stupid and unfruitful. Let the parents decide what’s best for their children and deal with the consequences, whether they are good or bad.

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