Has TLC’s pageant show Toddlers and Tiaras taken things to a new and potentially dangerous level of entertainment? The spoiled little beauty queens have had the ability to grab societies attention with their cute little temper tantrums and innocent acts. Although some may just see this show as entertainment, it is becoming dangerous to societies image of young girls and their health. With our overly expanding obsession with beauty and perfection, these young girls have become target examples of how television and entertainment can damage society. Contestants on this show, ranging from 3 to 8, are risking their health and changing societies image of young girls. Nonetheless, the parents are highly involved and continue to push their children into these horrible habits.
Toddlers and Tiaras has so many unhealthy aspects that are overlooked. Parents of these young girls are on the borderline of abusing their children. Even worse…they are doing these horrible acts on national television! What kind of mother or father would consider putting their little girl into atmospheres like the ones seen on the series? I bet if we asked the girls why they did pageants they wouldn’t have an answer besides they like to dance or look pretty. This ‘abuse’ otherwise known as making someone ‘beautiful’ may be considered abuse because the girls are not old enough to make decisions for themselves. Contestants in the pageants get their eyebrows waxed, dye their hair, bleach their teeth and even hit the tanning beds.Excuse me? No child, let alone adult, should be making the decision to tan especially with recent studies relating tanning to skin cancer. In order to be on the show and hang with the big dogs, these torture treatments are a necessity. Flippers, or fake teeth, and hair extensions are used when competing. These children are being turned into plastic dolls without having an opinion. The parents control what their children wear and do, making the pageants almost pressured on the girls. Some seem to enjoy it, while you see others crying and throwing tantrums because they don’t want to endure the pain. The girls on the show really have no idea what the pageants are doing for their mental stability and physical health.
From the amount of sugary drinks and food shown in the show, the toddlers might as well have IV’s in, sending sugar straight into their veins to save their teeth from rotting. We all sit back and laugh at their chubbiness or their ‘special juice’ drinks, but think of how unhealthy this actually is. It is apparent these children are not getting the needed nutrients for proper brain and body growth. When other little kids watch Toddlers and Tiaras, they will go off of the girl’s habits in return causing our world to be more obese. Not to mention the increase of bad behavior that is learned from the show. Girls throw temper tantrums to get what they want. They also talk back to their parents and may even throw a few cuss words around. There are so many unhealthy aspects in this show. Our society is in for a rude awakening when these generations of girls grow up. In my opinion, this show will raise controversy when these young girls have health problems later in life and the parents will come back to blame the network.
Parents seem pretty clueless as well, seeming to only be interested for the fame and fortune in the show. In the long run, when the children are facing health problems and dangerous diseases such as diabetes or cancer, it will solely be the parent’s fault. Will the parents sue TLC for having such a damaging show? Or will they tell their kids they wanted to be involved in pageants, when really they had no idea at such a young age. Parents should be focusing on making a difference between fantasy and real life situations with young children. The pageant world of dressing up and putting on makeup at a young age should be the fantasy side. When I was little and would play dress up, I knew I was not to wear lipstick and the dress up clothes outside of the house. Parents should be focusing on helping their children grow mentally, creatively and imaginatively by doing things toddlers should be doing. Where are the television shows that show this side of childhood? These girls are simply being robbed of their childhood and innocence. For the rest of their lives, they will feel the need to be put on a pedestal and constantly compete with others over looks and weight. Too much of this is already in our society, so why are television programs pushing it on us? It is only going to make the girls lives miserable and potentially dangerous as they grow.
All of these health related topics and concerns move us to the next big problem. This show has a wide variety of audience members who are most likely girls. Young children watching may become depressed that they aren’t doll or princess like. Toddlers and children should not be comparing themselves with others at such a young age. If these viewers are not comparing, they may be idolizing these girls. We choose to idolize people who have unhealthy and unrealistic outlooks on beauty. According to Deseret News, 80% of ten year olds have admitted to going on a diet. At ten years old no girl or boy should be going on diets unless told by a doctor. This statistic alone shows how our society has changed since the time we were children. Women who have participated in pageants during their childhood are more likely to have higher levels of body dissatisfaction, interpersonal distrust and poor mental health (Wonderlich, Ackard, & Henderson, 2007). With statistics like these, why do producers feel the need to produce television shows that are known to cause harm to those involved? We can easily turn to shows like Toddlers and Tiaras to blame for our views on beauty and perfection. Our generation is already caught up on looks and weight and now we are teaching this to even younger generations. When young girls are introduced to this show, they have the everlasting image of what a girl should look like—lots of makeup and scandalous, revealing outfits.
Pageants are highly valued in our society because of the obsession with perfection. Teenage and adult pageants have elegant evening gowns along with sophisticated answers to solving world hunger. Where is this idea of pageants shown in Toddlers and Tiaras coming from?! If we look back on television history, we could’ve predicted this. From the Miss America Pageants to shows about plastic surgery and makeovers, series about beauty and perfection have slowly been creeping up to become standard television programming. Producers have now taken it to a new level by using young girls. The promiscuous outfits put on these toddlers are outrageous. Our society is full of disturbed child predators and this is only instigating their actions. Putting these young girls in bras and booty shorts on national television is pure exploitation. This is not what beauty pageants should consist of. There is no aspect of self-worth or brainpower in winning the grand supreme title of the competition. Titles such as most photogenic, most beautiful, best hair, princess, queen and queen supreme are specifically beauty based. This is slowly changing our society and explicitly changing young girls values. One episode in particular brought up enormous amounts of controversy with sexualizing young girls. A contestant dressed up as the prostitute in “Pretty Woman”. From prostitute dressings to butt pads and padded bras, viewers were outraged.
According to CNN, everyone in society suffers from these children being sexualized. The article states, “Girls’ exposure to hyper sexualized media content can negatively impact their cognitive and emotional development; is strongly associated with eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression…” Exactly what has been discussed above, if this doesn’t catch your concern, this maybe this will. Young girls being sexualized in such ways are teaching boys and girls horrible values. It teaches girls to use their sexuality to win things and it teaches boys to value women for their sex appeal. Toddlers and Tiaras is doing just that. This is a huge concern in our world because women are already feminized in negative perspectives. Showing the contestants and viewers they can win or get what they want by wearing promiscuous clothes, tons of makeup and shaking their butts on stage is only making society worse in the long run.
Putting these young girls at great risks such as sexual exploitation and health problems for our entertainment is despicable. TLC has officially taken things too far. This network is viewed as a learning channel for viewers. Toddlers and Tiaras is doing nothing but teaching our society bad values on young girls and their behaviors. These unhealthy and promiscuous lifestyles should not be used as our entertainment. As a society, we should be looking at the deeper meaning of these shows. These girls may have big mental or physical health issues when they get older. The more we sit back and laugh at these habits and portrayals about young girls, the bigger problems we will face later down the road.
Henson, M. (2011, September 13). 'toddlers and tiaras' and sexualizing 3-year olds. CNN
Opinion . Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/12/opinion/henson-toddlers-tiaras/
Wonderlich, A. L., Ackard, D. M., & Henderson, J. B. (2007). Childhood beauty pageant contestants: Associations with Adult Disordered Eating and Mental Health . Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention,
Morgan , M. (2012, November 17). Toddlers and tears: The sexualization of young girls . Deseret News . Retrieved from http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865567072/Toddlers-and-Tears-The-sexualization-of-young-girls.html?pg=all