There is not much in this world that can physically shock or rattle my husband. He is a physician and has done his fair share of rotations in emergency rooms and ICUs and has seen a lot of bad sh...um, stuff. So the other night when from the other room I heard a HUGE GASP and subsequent Oh MY GAWD! I was somewhat shocked and ran into the living room. Seems as he was perusing his usual before bed news websites, he came across this.
Cue, HUGE GASP number two from me!!
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. This is a picture of 4-year-old Maddy Jackson on the TLC show Toddlers & Tiaras in a Dolly Parton costume. Complete with 'C-cup' padded boobs and a padded butt to boot! The clip above of her mother explaining the 'costume' is even more disturbing and uh, yeah, her "enhancements" are hysterical - NOT!!
This story has been the lead headline all week all around the world. Some people have said that this kind of behaviour, outside of being just plain wrong, is criminal. Is it? I don't know. What I do know is that this type of pageant lifestyle and the big hair, big make-up, half-shirts, high heels and "look at me I am so pretty, please give me the big-ass crown and the $500.00 cash to fan out for the cameras" teaches our baby girls one thing and one thing only.
YOU ARE ONLY HERE AND ONLY VALUED FOR YOUR LOOKS AND YOUR FAKE SMILE!
Good Gawd people! Are we really no further along in our views of girls and women and the females of our species that THIS is what we teach our young?
Now yes, I realize that this pageant crowd is a small percentage of the world and to each their own, and yadda-yadda-yadda...but, these people have a television show and an international viewing audience and it is ALL over the interwebs. This story has been picked up by news sites in the UK, in Africa and in India too.
Pageant mothers will defend their decisions to put their children into pageants because it teaches them poise and gives them confidence. Others are quoted as saying ""She learns skills such as going out in a crowd, not to be shy, and to be herself while people are watching and focusing on her." (1)
And even other moms are more blunt and will just tell you, "My daughter looks like Barbie. I tell her to exploit it. This is your life; you take what you have and run with it." (1)
BEING herself? She looks like BARBIE? Since when do hair extensions, fake eyelashes, a pound of make-up and a fake spray-on tan, not to mention the fake teeth (because God forbid one happened to fall out right before a competition), constitute being oneself? I'll say it again, all of these things teach our girls just one thing...
Being yourself is NOT good enough.
It is a line that is pushed and then crossed over and over and over in the pageant world, but even in everyday life with our children, is one that we need to be aware of and ready to address at any moment. Our little people are inundated with media and fashion images and insidious marketing messages daily and we need to be there to help them interpret these and understand what is being said or portrayed.
Take my daughter for example. She is a month away from her third birthday and as of late has taken a keen interest in my morning make-up routine. She insists on putting on 'her' make-up too and emulating what I am doing (this mostly involves taking one of my brushes and doing whatever I am doing, sans the actual make-up). And even though she has not directly asked me any questions about 'why' I wear make-up, she does ask what the products I am using are for. "What's this one for Mommy?", "That one is for your cheeks." "What's this one for Mommy?", "That one is for your eyes." I tell her what I am doing, but nowhere in the conversation do I say anything along the lines of the make-up 'making me beautiful". My daughter, and my son for that matter too, are learning from my husband and I that true beauty comes from within. Your heart, your mind, your soul-these are the things that make someone beautiful. Make-up and even clothes are only things that can help you feel beautiful. And even then, truly feeling beautiful still has to come from the inside and shine outwards.
Why is it so hard for these pageant parents and the judges and organizers for that matter, to set new guidelines for kids in pageants? Why can we not celebrate individuality, their true personalities, their authentic, unadorned little selves? Are we so far gone that we can not even see true beauty in our own children anymore? Bare mid-rifs, botox and now boobs and butts....I for one am afraid to ask what's next!
And....uhm...helloooo....did any one of these people ever actually SEE 'Little Miss Sunshine'?
Frustrated and flabbergasted (and not really digging TLC these days),
1. The whys and woes of beauty pageants. William J. Comrie. Harvard University Gazette.
2. Toddlers and children beauty pageants – Risk factors for severe psychological turmoils. Dr. Lucia Gosaru. Psychology Corner.