If you’ve ever watched Toddlers & Tiaras on The Learning Channel, you’ve probably seen some the horrendous behavior displayed by parents and children in the world of children’s pageants. If you think the antics of these parents and kids who frequent the pageant arena is a rarity, however, think again. In general, child pageants bring out the worst in parents and children alike. Do your child a favor and steer clear of these events that are often detrimental to the confidence and mental health of you both.
When pageant moms are interviewed, the subject of pageant-related expenses comes up repeatedly. By the time the cost of pageant entry fees, travel and lodging expenses and the price of expensive designer dresses, spray tans, manicures, hair extensions and makeup application are tallied, many pageant moms report spending tens of thousands of dollars each year for their daughters to compete in pageants. Unless you have an unlimited supply of cash, resist the pageant world and deposit the money into a college fund for your child’s education.
While you’d think pageant parents would know better, ugly rivalries between them often emerge in this competitive field. Instead of fostering a sense of camaraderie between the children, many moms target their child’s biggest competitor with gossip and criticism. On numerous occasions, children have been disqualified from competition due to the behavior of their unruly parents. The 1991 case of Wanda Holloway, the Texas mother who hired a hit man to kill the mother of her daughter’s rival for the cheerleading squad, is a case in point that illustrates happens when competition and the desire to win go too far.
Numerous critics of child pageants cite the hypersexualization of the contestants as a reason to avoid these competitions. When little girls are made up, dressed and styled to look like miniature hookers and taught dance moves that would make a stripper blush, it’s apparent that something’s gone awry. Provocative clothing, dirty dance moves and makeup artistry that turns the face of a seven-year-old into that of a 17-year-old are commonplace in the pageant world and soon become the norm instead of the exception.
While it might appear that the audience at child pageants is comprised of family and friends of the children who compete, there’s no guarantee that strangers with nefarious intentions haven’t infiltrated the crowd. Whether pedophiles attend the pageants or simply collect the adult-looking photos that many pageant moms love to post online, the mini contestants may easily be exposed to those with a sick interest in them. There’s really no way to tell whether the friendly man taking hours of video footage in the corner is an uncle, grandfather or pedophile.
Instead of thrusting your child forward into the limelight that may cause the destruction of her confidence and send her the message that her only worth lies in how she looks, allow your child to be a child. Surround her with trusted family and friends, encourage her to participate in activities that promote her intellectual and physical abilities and, most of all, keep her away from the sordid world of child pageants.
Toddlers and Tiaras: Televised Abuse and Unethical Parenting
(This video was created by a student for a College ethics class.)