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Toddlers and Tiaras

July 28, 2010

Late in my journalism school career, I was required (a.k.a forced) to venture outside my choice of public relations classes and take something to expand my cultural horizons.  Being the wannabe feminist that I am, I decided to take a gender studies class that focused primarily on feminism in modern culture.  First I should mention that when I say “wannabe” feminist I really mean that although I hate society norms for women, I often find myself succumbing to that norm and abiding by it gladly, however much I hate it. What else am I going to do, spend my life unhappily forcing the world to “see it my way”?  It’s never going to happen, and besides I’ve got publicity coordination to worry about!

To get back on topic, during this class we watched a documentary called Living Dolls, where mothers subject their young children to child pageants.  While I agree, and will fight for, the right to have children develop a solid self-esteem at a young age, I firmly believe that this is the wrong way to do it.

Yes, I graduated more than two years ago, but while flipping through television channels, I happened to come across the delightful (yes that’s sarcasm) show

How old is she?

Toddlers and Tiaras. Suddenly, the feminist streak in me flew out of control, and compelled me to sit down and share it with all of you.

Frankly, I think it’s repulsive that as women we complain about the disparity between men and women, but we as women will encourage our children to participate in behavior that directly correlates with the disparity we’re trying to prevent.  If we want to encourage children to do something that will boost their self-esteem, why not choose something that is much less beauty related?  Choosing to teach children that “beauty is on the inside” does not correlate with having them prance around with makeup that’s four inches thick and dresses even I would tripover if I wore.

I would love to talk to some of the mothers of these children.  It’s not the children who choose this life for themselves, but often the mothers who choose to put their daughters in pageants. How can we, as a society, be surprised at the behaviors of men and how women are treated by men, while we dress up our daughters like sex objects for all to see?  Even I don’t make myself up that nice, ever! It’s not normal to spray tan your eight-year-old and put Vaseline on their teeth to keep them smiling.

What is the purpose of these pageants anyway? There doesn’t seem to be any real advantage, other than feeding the mother’s ego for winning and parading her child around like a personal play Barbie. AH! I got it! It’s Barbie’s for adults–all those women who never fully grew out of their Barbie stage!  That must be it…but you can bet your last dollar you’ll never see me hiring a makeup artist for my six-year-old.  The children can’t possibly want to do this, they constantly are crying, complaining and yearning for a nap on the show, and I’m sure that’s how it is in real life. The parents must bribe their children with promises of candy and new toys.

For once, I’m not sorry I posted this, and I beg no forgiveness for anyone I’ve offended. I see no purpose for these pageants, they are utterly ridiculous, and I refuse to listen to any mother who tells me it’s a beneficial aspect of their child’s life. The moral of today’s story is to let children be children.  Children should be outside playing, not selling themselves to win for their mother’s personal self-esteem issues.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2010 3:09 pm

    very well put, i didnt know you thought that much about it, nor have i ever considered you a feminist, just strongly oppinionated.

  2. July 28, 2010 4:30 pm

    Yeah, I took that class. I got a minor in gender studies and found these classes fascinating.

    One thing to consider about these toddler beauty pageants are the mothers. A lot of of the motive behind entering their girls is for the possibility of cash prizes and scholarships. You don’t see any of these mom’s saying, “I’m doing it for my 4 year-old’s self-esteem” … it’s for monetary gain.

    For that reason and the reasons you stated above, I totally loathe the idea of parading your daughter like a show pony mostly because little girls need to stay little girls for as long as possible. Introducing them to the world of beauty at too young of an age is only going to make these little girls grow up faster and put more and more emphasis on looks. Not to mention they look like adults and that raises all sorts of perverts’ attention.

    I don’t disagree with beauty pageants in general. Miss America, for example, has to be more than just beautiful. She has to be smart and articulate and have a personality. And they do positive things with their crown like charity work, ect.

    But I totally feel you. I’ve never ever considered myself a feminist. But I do truly care about women’s issues when it puts them at a disadvantage or puts them in danger.

  3. July 28, 2010 4:30 pm

    So I left a really long comment on here. And the darn site deleted it! Ugh.

    Anyway, I have a gender studies minor. I totally took that class. Gender studies fascinates me.

    One thing to consider about the toddler beauty pageant thing is the motivation behind it. More than just the mothers wanting to relive Barbie days, they do it because there’s usually cash and prizes involved. No mother on this show or documentary has said, “I’m doing this to raise my four-year old’s self-esteem”. No way. It’s for the monetary gain. The higher up these children move in the pageant circuit, the more money will be involved.

    In addition to the things you mentioned, my biggest beef with parading these toddlers around like show ponies is because they end up looking like ADULTS. They look way older than they are and that raises all sorts of issues with perverts. Plus, little girls need to stay little girls for as long as possible. Too much emphasis on beauty this early is making them think they’re adults too young … and we all know issues associated with that.

    I don’t have an issue with beauty pageants in general. I think Miss America is actually a pretty impressive honor. She not only has to be beautiful, she has to be articulate, educated, and have a good personality. Those pageants teach girls how to be dazzling women, not just hot in bikinis.

    • July 28, 2010 8:34 pm

      It didn’t delete it, I have approve all comments, to make sure they aren’t spam. But I agree with you on the monetary subject. I just think its unreasonable to place such pressure (seen when parents scream at their two-year-olds when they lose) on children of that age. I think its unfair to teach children that beauty will prevail. Miss America is different. Child pageants don’t require the articulate it personality portion.

      • July 28, 2010 4:51 pm

        “I just think its unreasonable to place such pressure (seen when parents scream at their two-year-olds when they lose)” < —- yes, very similarly to the parent of the kid on the baseball team who screams at him when he strikes out. *sigh* Stupid parents like this are everywhere.

  4. July 28, 2010 4:51 pm

    By the way, “Iknowsomestuff” is my wordpress blog I’ve never used. This is still Courtney! haha I have blogs EVERWHERE. MUAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA.

  5. casandra permalink
    July 29, 2010 6:22 am

    there is a big difference between scholarship pageants and beauty pageants, and i don’t think you’re drawing a clear enough distinction here. to be real simple, one major advantage of scholarship pageants is the college money.

    • July 29, 2010 10:25 am

      You make a solid point. You are right, the distinction isn’t clear. I have no problem with beauty or scholarship pageants. The part that bothers me is dressing them up that way so very young. Eight and below is too young for a beauty pageant though.

  6. July 30, 2010 9:18 pm

    I saw a clip of “Toddlers and Tiaras,” and that was enough for me. Beauty pageants are bad enough for adult women — and I know all about how other things besides beauty are required, but I’ll believe it when I see a plain-looking Miss America — but dressing these little girls up and teaching them to prance around has to negatively affect them. I don’t think you have to be labeled “feminist” to see the absurdity in these pageants — just someone who cares about the psyches of kids.

  7. Sandy permalink
    August 17, 2010 2:07 pm

    I’ve recently become obsessed with Kathy Griffin. She has an episode on her show “My Life on the D List” where she actually judges a toddler pageant… she is mocking the entire thing from the beginning. She even ‘enters’ the pageant and dresses herself in ridiculous outfits, drawing even more attention to how silly those contests are!

    It was the best.

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