Each episode of the popular reality show on TLC, Toddlers & Tiaras, follows multiple children who participate in beauty pageants all across the country. As you can see, some mothers go to extremes, dressing their children in tight, scandalous clothing. While many people believe child beauty pageants are harmless and offer opportunities for young girls to dress up and have fun on stage, they are unaware of the serious, life-altering results that beauty pageants can have on young girls as they grow up. In order to win high titles in beauty pageants, the girls need to have perfect hair, makeup, teeth, tan and of course, a perfect “glitzy” dress. This strive for perfection can take a toll on these girls’ and can lead to the development of eating disorders and an obsession of trying to maintain an unrealistic ideal of beauty.
The clip shown above is from an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras which features Brenna, a four year old pageant queen. All of her preparations and accessories come together when she’s on stage, creating the replica of a “living doll.” She has a fake tan, caked on makeup, curled hair extensions, and a hot pink, ruffled dress. Once she wins the title “Grand Supreme,” she waves her prized (cash money) at her mom who is thrilled, with a huge grin on her face. The real question is if she’s happy because her daughter won the highest title, or because she won money for mommy to pocket.
This horrifying image shows Britney, an eight year old beauty pageant participant receiving botox injections from her mother, a part time aesthetician. During an interview, Britney confesses that the injections hurt and make her nervous, but she “gets used to it.” This is unacceptable. What kind of mother would inject her eight year old daughter with botox to terminate her so-called “wrinkles?” Kerry, Britney’s mother, is a prime example of a pageant mom who has crossed the line. She is one of the many mothers who “push their daughters into pageants because of their own low self-esteem, or as compensation for a perceived lack of attention and admiration in their own lives.”
Many pageant mothers remind their daughters that if they eat too much, they will become fat. With the pressure to be skinny and perfect, girls can become obsessed with living up to unrealistic standards of beauty and this can lead to distorted self-perceptions and even eating disorders.
Julia Lemke, you’re exactly right; everything is wrong with this picture. A crown is being placed on little girl who is fascinated by the wad of cash she’s holding with her perfectly tanned hands. She won all of this money by completing covering up her natural self. Instead, she got a spray tan, fake nails put on, her hair and makeup done, and a bedazzled dress to top it off; She nailed her routines (which most likely involved risqué costumes) and constantly had a fake, shining smile across her face. She can see mommy and her pageant coach in the audience acing out her moves so she doesn’t forget on stage. All of this effort is put in just so young girls like the one above can win high titles and money and make their way up the latter of the pageant world. This innocent girl has no idea how the pageant world is slowly turning her into a diva, who is at risk for developing major psychological disorders which can follow her as she grows up and hold her back from accepting her natural, beautiful self.
The beauty pageant culture is completely corrupting children all across America. From fake everything to provocative outfits and pushy moms, these girls are in store for potentially damaging childhood, which can create even larger problems as they grow into teenagers. Here is a PSA to wrap up how detrimental child beauty pageants are and why the need to be terminated before they permanently scar our innocent girls.
Hagan, Kelly, Sarah Kunin, and Sabina Ghebremedhin. “Mom Gives Botox to 8-Year-Old Daughter: How Young Is Too Young?” ABC News. ABC News Network, 12 May 2011. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.
Lemke, Julia (julialemke). “Tell me what’s wrong with this picture? Oh wait…everything. “ 23 Sept. 2014, 8:32 p.m. Tweet.
TLC. “Pretty Woman.” Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 8 Sept. 2011. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
TLC. “The Living Doll.” Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 22 March 2012. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.
Toddlers & Tiaras “I’ll be fat” GIF. Digital image. Tumblr. n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.
Wolfe, Lucy. “Darling Divas Or Damaged Daughters? The Dark Side Of Child Beauty Pageants And An Administrative Law Solution.” Tulane Law Review 87.2 (2012): 427-455. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.
8 Year Old Receiving Botox. Digital image. ABC News. n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.