Lights, Camera, Too Young


Toddlers and Tiaras is a hit reality television show that came to TLC in January of 2009; with an average of 1.3 million viewers each week.  Since the television show came to the screen there have been tremendous amounts of controversy regarding the show.  Children from ages as young as one year’s old are contestants of beauty pageants around the country.  These children dress in clothing with cut-outs and perform routines that are inappropriate for their age.  The attitudes and behaviors of the contestants and their parents on the show are considerably questionable.  Eileen O’Neill, president and general manager of TLC, said Toddlers & Tiaras organizes a variation of different types of beauty pageants, in which more than 100,000 young children participate annually.

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The contestants on the show have extreme tempers when they don’t get the specific crown and title that they want.  They throw tantrums and cause huge scenes in front of everyone in the audience.  Some of the girls turn their faces into a pout while taking pictures with all of the other winners.


Above is a recap of a beauty pageant contestant and the mother of a contestant from season 8 of Toddlers and Tiaras. The images show 6 year old Elizabeth’s thoughts about herself (on the left column). As well as the attitude of 3 year old Mimi’s mother regarding beauty pageants (on the right column).

This youtube video is from season 8 of Toddlers and Tiaras.  The clip shows the routine of five year old Ava, who is suppose to be a “lion.” However her performance greatly symbolizes the atmosphere of a strip club and the looks of a stripper.  As the five year old is dressed in skimpy clothing, she spreads her legs apart and makes flips inside of a cage in front of an audience of people.


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Toddlers and Tiaras glamorizes the idea of un-natural beauty.  These adolescent girls wear layers of make-up, have fake hair and eyelashes, spray tans, hair extensions, and fake teeth.  Some mothers even go to the extreme of waxing their 3-8 year old’s eyebrows.  The contestants wear revealing clothing that is not appropriate for children their ages.  The girls gain fame from the show for participating in such beauty pageants.  They’re taught that beauty is everything in life.  Painting an unrealistic picture for the real world.  Teaching pageant contestants that beauty is the most important part of life creates colossal physiological disorders.

Christine Tamer wrote a book about the television show, Toddlers, Tiaras, and Pedophilia? The “Borderline Child Pornography” Embraced by the American Public.  In her book Tamer states: “Child beauty pageants have detrimental effects on their young participants. Several child therapists believe that beauty pageants are harmful to child development and make children especially prone to psychological disorders.”

“Little girls are supposed to play with dolls, not be dolls,” says Mark Sichel, a New York-based licensed clinical social worker, who calls the extreme grooming common at pageants “a form of child abuse.” Playing dress-up “is normal and healthy, but when it’s demanded, it leaves the child not knowing what they want,” he says. Accentuating their appearance with such accoutrements as fake hair, teeth, spray tans and breast padding “causes the children tremendous confusion, wondering why they are not okay without those things.”

Average Spent on a Single Pageant

  • $1,000 for some registrations alone
  • $25 for tanning
  • $100 for a wig
  • $10 for earrings
  • $250 for hair and makeup
  • $1,800 for a dress
  • $350 Photo Session/Prints for competition

Beauty Pageants have specific age requirements/groups, attires, interviews, fees, and criteria in which they will be judged on. Such as the Sunburst Beauty Pageant.

Toddlers & Tiaras Podcast

Works Cited

Tamer, Christine. Toddlers, Tiaras, and Pedophilia? The “Borderline Child Pornography” Embraced by the Public. 2011. Print.

Triggs. Charlotte West. Aradillas, Kay. Elaine. “Toddlers & Tiaras TOO MUCH TOO SOON?” People Sept. 2011. Print.

Cvetkovic, Vibiana B., and Debbie Olson. Portrayals of Children in Popular Culture. Lexington Books, 2013. Print.

TLC Network (TLC).  “Me no happy me get little trophies.” – Lily  #ToddlersAndTiaras.”  18 Sept. 2013, 8:17 p.m.  Tweet.

Sunburst Beauty Pageants. Discovery Channel, Web. 29 Nov. 2014.

TLC. “Toddlers and Tiaras – Cage flips and splits! (Las Vegas: LalapaZooza Pageant) PART 3.” Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 20 Sept 2013. Web. Nov. 2014.


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