Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Toddlers in Tiaras" Tirade

First, let me preface this blog entry with an apology. In the upcoming weeks my blog entries will be more sporadic and shorter due to an overload of schoolwork, which consumes most of my free time in the evenings. After spending every night this week consumed with academics (either in the classroom or doing homework), I decided that the little amount of free time I had would be spent mindlessly. Therefore, I watched the latest recorded episode of TLC’s “Toddlers in Tiaras”. Yes, I record this show. I watch “Toddlers in Tiaras” for the same reason I watch the many other “reality” TV shows on cable these days- I take pleasure in the delusional and entertaining antics, not to mention the drama, that these people engage in each episode. Although I am often disgusted, annoyed, or appalled at the behavior of these people, it is a much-needed break from my busy, chaotic, sometimes boring life. “Toddler’s in Tiaras” is a show that really makes me feel good about my parenting, as it serves as a clear model of what not to do with your children.

Things I have learned NOT to do from watching “Toddlers in Tiaras”:

1. Do not dress your child like a prostitute or Vegas Show girl, cover her face in dark makeup, and encourage her to dance around a stage with gyrations and bootie shakes in her routine.
2. Do not wax your child’s eyebrows (especially when she is crying in pain).
3. Do not force your child to participate in competitions if she is not interested. A competitive mom with an uninterested child just looks sad for everyone.
4. Do not encourage your child to make fun of other children.
5. Do not shove pixie sticks and soda down your child’s throat in order to keep her “lively”.

See, it’s not just entertainment- it’s educational!

Sure, I buy bows and frilly outfits for Macie. Yes, I got her ears pierced when she was 8 months old. Yes, I encourage Macie to blow kisses and dance around the house. But I would NEVER cross the line into making my daughter a performing monkey for a bunch of pedophiles/judgmental mothers living vicariously through their children. In preparation for these pageants, “Glitz” in particular, these children undergo rigorous grooming and physical preparation. In addition to practicing their “poise”, walk, and dance routines continuously (which I understand- this is a typical aspect of any competition), these girls must wear a flipper (false teeth), get a spray tan, get their eyebrows waxed, get a manicure and pedicure, wear lots of makeup and fake hair in order to be competitive. Granted, some children genuinely do enjoy getting on stage and performing. They delight in getting glammed up, the attention they receive, and the prizes- crowns and money. But the message that these girls learn loud and clear is that appearance comes before substance. Yes, some of the mothers attempt to keep their children humble, kind, and pleasant. But most encourage their “diva” behavior and do little to reign in the self-absorbed, mean-spirited monsters.

Although the behavior of these “pageant girls” is often appalling, most of the time the mothers are way worse. The apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree, as they say. While there are a variety of “pageant mom” personalities, there are some common characteristics. Many of these mothers were former pageant girls themselves. All of these mothers get personal gratification in knowing that other people consider their daughter(s) to be gorgeous and better looking than other people. I think some mothers believe it is a reflection on them and are almost more self-absorbed than their children. Most of these mothers flaunt their money and believe it to be all-important, which are behaviors learned (and modeled) by their children as well.

The bottom line- sure, not all pageants are bad. There are a few good things children learn from this type of competition- grace, poise, work ethic, and confidence. But these good things come at the expense of all the bad things they learn- appearance over substance, mean-spirited competition, misplaced emphasis on money and materials, and how to be a hooker way too early.

If you ever hear me mention entering Macie in a pageant please remind me of this blog and replay an episode of “Toddlers in Tiaras” for me. 

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