Toddlers and Tiaras: Sexualization of children is NOT entertainment
Questions to Consider:
- Who’s really competing here?
- Who is the audience for these pageants?
- Who are the judges for these pageants, and what do they award high scores for?
- What lessons are the girls learning?
What We Think:
Parading preschoolers wearing junior showgirl costumes around with fake tans, fake nails, fake teeth, fake eyelashes, and more makeup than most celebrities wear on the red carpet is frankly creepy, not to mention inappropriate and potentially dangerous. Televising it nationally for avid viewers further exploits these young (mostly) girls. Although some might argue that there is a subtle satire in TLC’s presentation of this subculture, it is nonetheless publicizing sexualized children, not to mention promoting the idea that a girl’s most valuable asset is her looks—and that you should do whatever it takes to win. And make no mistake, Toddlers and Tiaras is promoting child beauty pageants. On the show’s blog, the March 6, 2009 article is a “Pageant Parent Starter Guide” that gives instructions on how to get your child into the pageant world. And just to be sure they get the message that beauty comes at a cost, one stylist says to a pageant contestant, “It hurts to be beautiful,” and a mother tells the same girl, “You’re a big girl now; you can handle it,” in response to the girl’s protests about whitening her teeth. “This pageant shows how much a girl is willing to go to show her beauty [sic],” says the pageant director, but we think this program shows how much the media is willing to exploit girls to make a buck.
TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras
David Zaslav, CEO
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Silver Springs, MD 20910