Well, it may be a pretty obvious topic, but I just can't leave it alone. Beauty pageants, but not just any kind of beauty pageant, kiddie beauty pageants. Those Toddlers & Tiaras folks.
I know I have said all along that I don't want to be all judgey and such but it's probably going to happen in this post. Oops.
First, let's just ask the obvious question: why? Why would you subject your child to this? I want to be clear here that I'm not talking about grown, adult women who can make an educated decision about whether or not they want to participate in a pageant. I'm talking about tiny children who think frilly dresses are fun, don't understand being a "good loser," and would likely prefer to be on a swing set somewhere to being forced through many hours of waiting their turn on the stage. Again, let's be clear, this should not be equated with a choice. Think of it this way: would you give your child the option to eat nothing but Skittles all day? Probably not, at least I hope not. Why? Because they can't make the right decision here or at least an educated one. Obviously M&Ms are the better choice. That's why we, as their parents, have to do things to protect our children and make good choices for them.
I always see these parents who claim their child loves the stage. Of course they do, they're kids. Kids love attention. They usually will take it however they can get it, positive or negative.
I see these children being pushed on stage to dance around in a provocative manner in tiny outfits. There are so many things wrong with this I can hardly sort my thoughts to address them individually.
First, the dancing. Really? All these girls are missing is a pole. They're shaking their tiny bodies in a fashion I have hardly seen on the dance floor of Columbia's more questionable nightclubs. They're pushing their perfectly polished toddlers lips out in a pout remniscent of a 30's pin-up girl. What the hell is wrong with you people? That's not cute. It's wrong.
Before my brain explodes in a string of expletives, I would like to address the outfits these parents put their children in. Again, let me just stress that claiming the child likes it, not a valid response. Why, oh why, are there so many little girls baring their mid-drifts? On national TV, no less. Ask yourself, pageant mom, if there was a pedophile sitting in the audience, would you be comfortable letting your child parade around mostly naked in a swimsuit/outfit that is a tiny version of something meant to be sexy on a grown-up? Just go ahead and assume that at least 30% of the viewership of Toddlers & Tiaras is pedophiles. Drastic? Does it matter if there is one or 100? I have this same problem with little girl swimming suit. I operate on a strictly no two-piece policy until further notice. But, even some of the one pieces have a spaghetti strap paired with a ruffled strap that would be quite the sexy swimming suit on a grown-up. The legs are always cut incredibly high, too. I noticed this last year with Claire's 2T swimming suit. The sides were cut higher than my suit. She was in a swim diaper so luckily no cheeky business occurred at the public pool. If you let your child skinny dip in your own private pool, I care not. I'm talking about what you put out there for public consumption when it comes to your vulnerable toddlers and adolescents.
Now, I'm sure some of you are saying, "Hey, I let my kid wear a two-piece." That's great. For me though, it's not going to happen. For one thing, I am deathly afraid of skin cancer. I slather myself, my children, and my husband (as he runs away) in lots of sunscreen. I prefer to cover as much of my children as possible in clothing (SPF, of course) so that I don't have to apply even more goop whilst trying to have a fun day at the pool. P.S. tan kids = sun damaged kids. Keep tanning your own hide, by all means, but let your kid make that decision for themself when they are older and make the decision that the risk of skin cancer is less than or equal to the need for bronze skin. I used to tan, I have taken that risk. I now cover myself with large-brimmed hats and sunscreen as much as possible. Does that mean that I am damn-near translucent? Yep. I am as white as white gets. You need sunglasses just to sit next to me on a sunny day. I glow in the dark. You get my drift.
Okay, so moving on, the make-up and hair. These children have more make-up on their precious faces than I have worn in my life. They have more hair spray than an 80s movie. Why? Children are beautiful when they are clean and even when they are covered in dirt, food, markers, etc. They don't need enhancements. They don't need perfectly straight, white teeth. Those flipper things are just creepy. They remind me of Village of the Damned. *shudder* I'm sure every parent thinks to them self when they see these kids winning cash money for being cute that their child is way cuter and could totally beat that kid. You are correct. Now, enjoy the way that thought feels in the privacy of your own home and don't go challenge that thought by putting your kid in a pageant.
As if the provocative dancing, make-up, and outfits weren't enough, there's the crazy parents shoveling sugar down their children's throats to keep them going all day. I recently saw a piece on GMA where a pageant mom had concocted something called "Go Go Juice." This was a soda bottle half full of Red Bull, half full of Mountain Dew. W.T.F. First, don't give your kids soda, please? I mean come on. They don't need it. They are specially built to run on no caffeine until they are at least 18. Second, do you even know what is in Mountain Dew? They use a chemical used as a flame retardant to keep the color from separating. Why don't you just give your kid a line of cocaine. Shocked that I said that? Imagine how hard it is for a tiny body to process all of that sugar, caffeine, and chemicals. Cocaine would likely be more pure. (Disclaimer: not advocating giving drugs of any type to children. Sincerely, Captain Obvious) I have seen other moms give their children pixie stix, candy, and other sugary offerings to keep their kid going. You know what we do with our kids when they get tired? We let them take a nap. It's crazy, when they wake up, they feel better, have more energy, and are generally happier tiny people. But by all means, keep your kid up and pump them full of sugar so they can win something because it makes them feel good, right?
Which brings me to my final point, the bullshit reasoning behind putting your kid in pageants. This "it makes them feel better about themselves," b.s. Seriously? You can't think of another way to boost your child's self-esteem than to pit them against their peers in a contest based on who can correctly walk in a line, pout their lips, and stick their fingers in their cheeks? Go ahead and just tell them flat-out that their looks are all that are important for them and that nothing else is of value.
Look, I think the lesson that you cannot always win is a great one for children to learn. My sister used to beat my every single time we played Chinese Checkers, regular Checkers, you name the game, she beat me. She used to do this thing when we flipped a coin: heads I win, tails you lose. Got me every time. She will freely admit that winning all through childhood has made losing now as an adult a very difficult proposition. Luckily for her she seems to basically win at every thing, still. Except that time we played Cranium, she was super-pissed.
Anyway, we're not talking about a contest where you can show a child something tangible that caused them to lose, like the other team scoring more points, etc. We're talking about whether three strangers found them to be cuter than their peers. There's plenty of that later on in life, it's called High School and it sucks.
Then there are the "purest" parents who say they will not paint their child's face with all the make-up and tease their hair. They like the natural look. To those I say, again, really? It's like sending your child to basketball camp in an evening gown and heels. They couldn't be less prepared. Go ahead and set them up to feel inferior, different, and weird from the beginning.
I know some would claim this to be a cultural difference and that I just don't understand, being from Missouri. (which I guess makes me a Yankee?) You know what else was a cultural thing? Racism, genocide, the Macarena, I could go on.
Look, you want to dress your kids up in frilly, pretty outfits? Great! Do it! Just don't make it a contest. You want to let them sing and dance? Wonderful! Just don't judge them. Let beauty pageant be a game at home where the stakes are winner gets to pick the movie. Let kids be kids. Life ends up being a constant contest when you get older. It stinks.
Well, I can't lie, I've sort of given up on the TV thing. I even made Claire a birthday card and mailed it to Sprout's Sunny Side Up Show so that she might get to see it on-air on her birthday. I'm so weak. Oh well, f it.