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This autumn the learning channel TLC is broadcasting its 6.th season with the reality show Toddlers & Tiaras. And I think they have had some problems, thinking their show needed to be even more shocking, to remain popular. This last months we have seen a four year old with boobs as Dolly Parton, a little girl in a Madonna-costume, and a tree year old dressed up as a prostitute from the film Pretty Woman. Look at the clip:

Now even though the pageant mom who talks in the clip is negative to the prostitute costume, why doesn’t she find it disturbing to put on makeup and hairpieces on her little girl? Or fake tan, fake teeth, fake poses,,,, etc.  A huge amount of my ninety-something comments from my previous article about this, have been supporting the show. But I have also had a lot of response from people who can’t believe the bad parenting who is given primetime attention trough this show. One of the comments came from Sheri N from Kentucky, and it was so brilliant that I asked her the permission to repost the comments here, so that more people could read it.

“I find myself wishing this show was a sting project by a human ethics/rights group – that the events, severe emotional manipulation, coercion, mental and physical torture these children are put through is not in vain, that their suffering is paving the way for laws that prevent mothers (and occasionally a dad, but most times they are puppets too, afraid to put their feet down and stand up for their children) – from using their children in this horribly inhumane way.

The stage moms all say: “Pageants help my daughter’s self-esteem” but in reality, over and over I see how the children react to not winning the TOP prize. Even though pageants add superfluous tittles to ensure most contestants come home with SOMETHING, not a single person is ever fooled by those tittles. They all want the big win, and they are wrecked if they don’t get it.

The judges always say they are looking for the “personality, the natural beauties” but inevitably, the winners are the most plastic, freakishly fake dolled-up looking contestants.

Behind the scenes of these pageants show the children in various stages of meltdowns, bad behaviour brought upon by undue stress and fatigue. Small children saying things like “show me the money”, and “Shut up, I said SHUT UP”!
I’ve seen many children slapping their parents and screaming things like “NO I don’t want to” at them. Or trying to hide under an air conditioning unit, or in a corner. These children are acting out their stress over being thrust into this jarring, fake and exhausting, competitive world.

Do these parents realize how their children are being shaped into quasi-humans by this unnatural environment? Their natural, normal personalities are being altered so tragically. Rather than building a healthy self-esteem, the children are being trained to be people pleasers; children (and later adults) who are constantly seeking the approval of others. They only get high scores when they are enhanced dramatically and artificially. They are obsessed with how they look and appear. They are not learning to “find themselves” and discover what makes them special. Instead they are trained to morph themselves in to whatever is considered “it” at the moment.

These moms are constantly criticizing their children (some more than others) and they may not even realize, but someone needs to tell them!
I am so sad for these children. Their parents can put any spin they want to on what they are doing to (they would argue, ‘for’) their children, but in reality, they are losing their children to shadows of their former selves.

I do hope there are human rights groups out there that are going over these shows with a close, critical eye, and making a case for the cessation of glitz pageants. Please. God, please.”

Thank you, Sheri N, I couldn’t agree more! I wonder how far a reality show can go, when the subjects to the “reality” are small children in a setting who should be far far from their real lives.