By Darlene Pham
In today’s world of over-sexualized images and an emphasis on beauty, it’s more important now than ever for children to be… well, children. Forcing baby girls and boys to spray unnatural chemicals on their skin, pluck hairs from their little, innocent faces and dress up like the plastic Barbie doll in the attic toy bin is surely considered akin to child abuse.
But in TLC’s show “Toddlers & Tiaras”, mothers, attempting to live through their daughters, expose them to the toxic world of beauty pageants and national television. It seems like in most episodes, the children are forced to perform as if they were objects for entertainment. Supporters for this sick act may argue for their actions, but in all honesty, it’s just wrong and there is no defense.
As a result, “Toddlers & Tiaras” has stirred up controversy in the media. Anderson Cooper of CNN called the actions of some mothers inappropriate, especially of one who forced her screaming daughter to wax her eyebrows.
The worst part is the costumes, make-up and other factors that turn little girls into mini sex objects, imitating today’s pop stars and celebrities. These girls spend hours putting on fake eyelashes and bronzer to be flaunted on stage for the nation to see. The parents and endorsers of the beauty pageants advocate a twisted perception of beauty; it parades girls around on national television, exposing them to your friendly neighborhood sex offender. They tell the world their names and where they live, then they show the girls wearing Madonna’s notorious cone bra while doing a risqué dance routine. Seriously? They might as well invite pedophiles to their homes and lock them in a room with their daughters.
The parents argue that these beauty pageants improve self-esteem and family bonding and that their daughters want to compete. The truth is these toddlers do not understand the difference between a competition and reality. Since competitions are based largely on appearance and first impressions, when they lose, these kids inevitably feel ugly and inferior to those who win. They are too young to decide to compete or not; children rarely make decisions for themselves, so it’s their parents who are forcing them to compete.
I’m not saying beauty pageants as a whole are terrible, but there’s a difference from Miss America and Miss Diaper. These girls are just too young. They lose their innocence due to their exposure of artificial beauty and attitudes. Kids should be kids. They shouldn’t know how to wax their eyebrows or understand the difference between foundation and concealer.
The next time you see your little sibling, cousin or neighbor, influence them to be a kid. Let them be innocent and careless. With exposure to the media, young children are already pressured with issues they shouldn’t have to deal with until years later. Be a positive influence and teach them the right values… manners included.