Toddlers and Tiaras I must admit is a guilty pleasure of mine mainly because it makes me feel like a better parent. Seeing 3,4 and 5 year olds with spray tans, fake nails, fake eyelashes and flippers for the older girls (fake teeth to cover gaps,) shaking their tushes and doing the “I’m cute” cheek point pose makes me feel quite nauseous. In fact I think I now understand how squeamish people felt while watching particularly gruesome episodes of ER. Maybe being British means I find these pageants inherently wrong, although the growing number of British pageants would seem to counter that argument.
I have always thought that childhood is something that should be cherished and unfortunately these pageants seem to do the opposite. Oh I know the parents will say its all dress up and fun but if that’s the case why not just enter into ‘natural’ beauty pageants or even talent competitions? I can’t help thinking that these children will grow up with a warped sense of self. Being judged at such a young age on primarily false, caricaturish looks will surely influence how they think they are perceived by others.
I’m actually quite curious as to how these pageants came about and how they evolved into what they are now. Most of the younger (blond) girls look like miniature Dolly Partons and do these strange facial expressions which seem to include pouting and I’m shocked look. then there is the walk with wildly over-exagerated arm movements. How is any of this cute? Sure there is something really obvious that I am missing.
I was a dancing child, I took part in hundreds of shows and competitions from the age of 3 into early adulthood. As tiny tots we all wore uniform blue eyeshadow and red lipstick and looking back it looks absolutely ghastly but we were never judged on our appearance. I guess being the late 80’s early 90’s has a lot to answer for. To be honest I don’t know why we wore it as the competitions were always purely dance/singing based, I don’t think anyone would have been marked down for having bad hair or make-up. I’ll let you guess where I am in that photograph and apologies to the rest of the girls. However ridiculous we may look, the dance was great and we won far more often than we lost. What do pageants teach young girls other than vanity? Yes, most dance/have a talent to fill the pageants quota but it’s usually just something to help on the pageant circuit. Compared to the mini adults adorning our screens we were very green. Tantrums didn’t happen often nd we learnt about cameradery within our dance school as well as competition with others. We won and lost unlike many pageants now which try to place everyone.
We all worked hard and trained for months but never would our parents try to wire us with Pixy Stix (sugar filled tubes) known delightfully as “Pageant Crack,” or even worse caffeinated and highly sugared, home-made “Go-go juice.” The previously mentioned drink energizes the girls giving them a boost. This is obviously the darker side of pageantry but nevertheless it exists and tarnishes those oversized crowns considerably.
I think it’s quite clear I won’t be signing my daughter up anytime soon and although I am adamant about her finding her own path, be it dance, football or art etc I think if at 6 or 7 she showed an interest in pageants I would probably try to steer her in a different direction. I know that doesn’t completely let her make up her own mind….but hey I’m a mom now I get to use the “because I said so” line!