May 12, 2010

Ordinary Girls

Dammit, you'd think I'd learn to stay the hell away from television, wouldn't you? In a seemingly never-ending saga of Shit That Makes Me Sad And Angry On TV, I managed to spend an hour with Toddlers and Tiaras over the weekend. It was about 59 minutes and 59 seconds too long. By the end of an hour, I was sad, confused and actually pretty livid.

Look, I know that blanket generalizations are wrong and perpetuating stereotypes is something I shouldn't do but I can't help but paint with a pretty broad brush here. I'm convinced that the moms on this show - and pageant moms like this in general - are useless, damaged women forcing their children into situations so that they, the mothers, may gather self-esteem and senses of accomplishment. They're puppetmasters completely willing to emotionally scar their children in the process. At one point I became so incensed while watching that I actually asked Beth for permission to drop the C-bomb, then I did, shouting it at the television after which I felt guilty that I'd allowed my inner-monologue to escape. Not that it wasn't absolutely correct. I see no way - absolutely none - in which these women and the men in their lives (they're no less blameless) aren't subjecting their daughters to some form of abuse.

This is not how little girls live or are treated in an ordinary world.

In an ordinary world, five year old girls don't spend hours in beauty salons. They don't own $1,000 dresses. They don't wear hair extensions and don't get spray-on tans. They don't bat fake eyelashes, suggestively wiggle their hips or slap their own bottoms in front of audiences. They don't participate in bikini contests. They don't work with pageant coaches four hours a day or diet or starve themselves. And if you tell me that what I was watching is indeed the ordinary world, I'm moving my family to a remote tropical island.

The world is a scary place and that's a reality that we all have to face as we get older and mature. I'm not sure I understand why we'd want children to come to that realization any earlier than necessary. Dressing them up, making them compete for a crown, a trophy or a paltry check simply because of their looks is pathetic to me. And it sets the expectation for each of those children than their success or failure is almost totally dependent on their looks. That, too, is pathetic. Hasn't physical appearance been the cause of enough division in the world?

If I've managed to offend any pageant-pushing moms out there, to drive them away from my site, I offer this. Don't let the virtual door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Posted by Chris at May 12, 2010 6:28 AM

i've also watched this train wreck of a show and the sexualization of these little girls makes me physically ill. i also wonder if these girls are being praised for reading, figuring out a difficult math problem or building a really cool fort, or if they are just being taught that being pretty is all that matters. ugh.
angelina and brad should adopt the whole lot of them.

Posted by: meanie at May 12, 2010 7:45 AM

So well said! I totally agree.

Posted by: Magnolia Mom at May 12, 2010 7:57 AM

I don't know that I've ever seen it, but... blergh. There's an overwhelming push to make girls grow up faster - I saw it years ago when my eldest kiddo was in dance class. For the performance, we were expected to pile layer upon layer of makeup on our daughters (including a horrific orange-red lipstick specially selected, called "Salsa" - I DON'T EVEN WEAR HOOKER RED LIPSTICK AND MY DAUGHTER SHOULD?). They recommended salons who could style the hair "just so" and oh, don't forget to make sure your daughter didn't wear underpants, because heaven forbid they show thru.

I was seething at that point. And no, we didn't sign up again for the next year.

Posted by: Sarah at May 12, 2010 8:44 AM

I got sucked into the same show this weekend! What a fucking nightmare.

Posted by: April at May 12, 2010 8:44 AM

I haven't seen it but I've been shrieking about the same thing for years now.

Posted by: Ann Elizabeth Adams at May 12, 2010 8:58 AM

I agree completely. It's part of the reality/trainwreck-tv food chain...they start there and will end up on celebrity rehab. Very sad. Dont' watch it and it will go away.

Posted by: laineyDid at May 12, 2010 9:01 AM

I tried to watch this once. I usually can sit through most train-wreck shows and laugh that my life is at least not THAT f'ed up. I just couldn't do it with that one. It seriously made me ill. Like sick to my stomach with outrage and sadness. The way they treat their little girls like commodoties and sexualize them is absolutely abusive. It's disgusting and they should be ashamed of themselves.
I could go on...but it's making me naseous to think of it.

Posted by: varinia at May 12, 2010 9:04 AM

I saw a second or two of this over the weekend and as soon as I realized what I'd stumbled on, I flipped to another station. This is nothing I want to see. The sexualization of little girls for whatever reason disgusts me.

Posted by: Patricia at May 12, 2010 9:15 AM

Oh Chris, you need to stop watching tv, or at the least watch something safe like a show about the history of food! :)

Posted by: Elizabeth at May 12, 2010 9:28 AM

I couldn't agree with you more. That show and what they are doing to those poor girls should be criminal.

Posted by: Michelle at May 12, 2010 9:31 AM

Amen! it is a form of child abuse in my humble opinion.

Posted by: Diane at May 12, 2010 10:31 AM

We are totally in agreement on this one. I don't understand how anyone could think those pageants are a good idea.

Posted by: bad penguin at May 12, 2010 10:40 AM

Yeah, the whole process really just frightens and disturbs me. It's just a pedophile's heaven. Gah. Just...ugh. I am seriously creeped out even thinking about it. Why do people think it's okay to do that to kids?!?!

(although if I was a bazillionaire my daughter might have a $1000 dress, just for fun heh. But she could wear it in a mud puddle if she wanted to.)

Posted by: Heather at May 12, 2010 10:45 AM


Posted by: alektra at May 12, 2010 10:45 AM

That show makes me ill. It's actually that show that got me to stop watching most reality tv all together. It's such an extreme example of the effed-uppedness that reality tv capitalizes on, watching it made me feel lousy about watching ANY of those shows that offer a ringside seat to the trainwreck of other people's lives.

Posted by: pseudostoops at May 12, 2010 11:34 AM

I.LOVE.YOU. for saying this. I despise this show with the white hot hatred of a thousand suns. I cannot stomach the sexualization of a 6/7/8 year old. It is not right or natural.

I watched an episode where the little girl was getting a SPRAY TAN-AT 6 YEARS OLD! She also had fake teeth that she snapped over her very normal 6 year old smile. The makeup, the dresses, the yelling, the guilting.


Posted by: zanie at May 12, 2010 11:47 AM

I warned you about that show! It's disgusting!
Even worse, check this out...

Posted by: Lisa at May 12, 2010 12:29 PM

I've seen this show and it's left me more sad than angry. I ABSOLUTELY agree with your analysis of the mothers (usually very unattractive women, I might add).

What always blows my mind is that the prize is usually $1000 which is LESS than the cost of their hair, make-up, spray tan, costumes, coaches, etc. What makes this worth it?

Posted by: Robyn at May 12, 2010 1:00 PM

Amen my friend, Amen!

Posted by: Tricia at May 12, 2010 1:16 PM

I couldn't agree more!!!

A couple of years before my daughter was born, I had a friend who, basically, to be blunt - knocked up his girlfriend. They had a little girl and her mother started her on pageants at 6 months old.

After a few years, the mother was horribly unfit and was using the pageant winnings to buy "substances" and thankfully, my friend got full custody of his daughter.

During the time she was doing them, I was sickened by what I saw, even without the mother's issues. I could not believe anyone would put their kids through this stuff.

When Morgan (my daughter) was born, I LOVED to dress her up in pretty little dresses and tell her every 5 minutes how beautiful she is. I STILL tell her every 5 minutes how beautiful she is. At almost 15, she's got confidence and beauty and insight. She's not afraid to be her own person.

I also had issues when she was about 5 with the sudden influx of "hoochie mama" clothes for little girls. The shorts were too short tops??? Really??? To this day, my daughter is modest and she has her very own style of dress. She doesn't feel like she has to be like everyone else or dress in skimpy clothes to be stunning.

God, I love my daughter!!! I'm so glad I taught her what beauty is REALLY about.

Posted by: Holly Reynolds at May 12, 2010 1:44 PM

I love this. I agree. It's so, so damaging. I had an aunt who pushed her kids into pagents. And, not to put too blunt a point on it, they weren't "pagent material". So they lost. Over and over and over and over. They're... not doing so well now.

I hate it. So, so much.

Posted by: caleal at May 12, 2010 2:30 PM

I couldn't agree more! This is exactly the reason I've refused to watch that show.

Posted by: Michelle at May 12, 2010 3:17 PM

I refuse to watch that horrible show! Makes me sick! I think kids should be allowed to be kids. Period. End of discussion. Hopefully that show will get canceled.

Posted by: Maribeth at May 12, 2010 3:57 PM

I have seen that show...and I may not be a parent...but I completely agree with you. I have an aunt that pushed my cousin into this type of world...until they finally gave it up but I honestly think they only gave it up because they couldn't afford to be competitive and keep up with paying for things like singing lessons and fake tans and fake teeth (flippers)oh and the dresses for when she was old enough to be losing's crazy - these little girls don't get to be little girls.

Posted by: Amy at May 12, 2010 4:23 PM

Could not have said it better myself!

Posted by: Sarah at May 12, 2010 4:55 PM

Preach it, Brother Cactus, preach it! And as Holly says above, what is it with the 'hoochie mama' clothes for little, little girls? Tried to buy clothes for the daughter of a friend this weekend, totally excited to be shopping on the 'pink' side of the store (as opposed to the dino/truck/frog side I'm usually in for my son) and I couldn't BELIEVE some of the summer clothes they have for toddler girls - micro mini skirts, tube tops, teeny bikinis - made me gag. Actually ended up with some neutral jumpers and tshirt/short sets from the boys side. It's obviously not just 'the media' sexualizing our kids younger and younger. So my question is, chicken and egg style, are the manufacturers of this crap making this stuff because that's what we (the parents) really want or are we just buying it because that's all that's offered? Since I only have the one and he's a boy, what's your take on it as the father of a girl? How have you and Beth avoided this pitfall, have you ever had to face Mia wanting something you consider inappropriate and if so, what did you do?

Posted by: Jen at May 12, 2010 5:54 PM

I watched this show a few times and I was so angry I was yelling at the TV too. Absolutely agree with everything you said, 100%. I had to turn it off.

Even sadder is there is a show about it that people watch, and probably enjoy.

EW. I wanted to disinfect myself after.

Posted by: Scatteredmom at May 12, 2010 7:56 PM

so, you ask permission to say 'cute'?
what's that saying? "you have to have a license to fish, but any idiot can have a baby."
oh! i know! why don't we cut back on social services, too? that way there'll be even less chance of help for these emotionally abused children once they get smacked in the head with the real world.

Posted by: la isla d'lisa at May 12, 2010 8:19 PM

I'm the hundredth person to say this, but: I agree. I have never seen the show. I've seen the previews for it and have come THISCLOSE to watching, but I know I can't handle it. I think the whole thing is sick and wrong and TLC (?) should be ashamed of themselves for objectifying these girls even further. Our daughters have the right to a pure, innocent childhood and these girls are NOT getting that. But it seems to me that fewer and fewer people have issues with this. Shopping for summer clothes for my daughter (9) last week pissed me off. Tube tops, shorts that BARELY cover asses, sweats that say "cute" across the ass, skin tight clothes. Really!? I've had to try and sway her away from some friends because they are too into growing up too fast and their parents are right on board. She's 9, she should be watching cartoons and playing with dolls, riding her bike, normal KID stuff, not TEENAGE stuff. I think everyone of those mothers has some serious, deep seated issues and I fear what these beautiful little girls are going to grow up in to.

Posted by: js at May 12, 2010 9:18 PM

i agree with you and everyone else posting. i think the worst part is imagining that there are sick pedophiles that DVR that shizz and both the parents of the girls and the producers of the show (and everyone involved at every level) either don't grasp that or don't care. So awful...

Posted by: kati at May 13, 2010 12:17 AM

I couldn't agree with you more. It's one thing to put pictures of your kid into a cutest kid contest sort of thing. But seriously - CPS should go and arrest these pageant Mom's and place the kids in homes where they A) can eat a meal without worrying they'll gain weight B) learn self worth - it's not about looks C) can be a kid!!

Good for you! Hopefully the pageant Mom's will get that virtual door-knob up their asses on their way out!!

Posted by: Rose @Dozenroses13 at May 13, 2010 1:01 AM

I agree with you completely. The world those little girls are being made to live in is sick. Every time I see a pageant featuring very young girls or hear a "mom" talking about putting her daughter into one, it makes me sick. These people need a long and much deserved course in parenting basics.

Posted by: Debra at May 13, 2010 2:20 AM

I was watching the episode that took place in Connecticut last year or so and I saw someone I used to hang around with years ago! In fact she was mc'ing the event!!

I found her on facebook and asked her about it. Her daughter got into the pageant scene a couple of years ago while in high school and she's been using it for scholarship money. My friend said alot of the mothers in the pageant arena are crazy and she got roped into mc'ing because someone didn't show up.

I watched the show for I think one season but gave it up.

Posted by: NancyJ at May 13, 2010 6:20 AM

We watched one episode of this last weekend, too. I've never been so sickened by a teevee show. Those parents are unfit.

Did you see the pathetic freak mothers FULLY acting out the routines in the audience while the kids were performing them on stage? My husband and I both just sat there. Speechless. Mouths agape.

What? The? FUCK???

Posted by: Elise at May 13, 2010 11:44 PM