Monday, September 6, 2010

Teeny Tiny Beauty Queens

This post has been brewing for awhile, a long while actually.  The urge to write about it comes and goes, usually as I'm flicking through the channels in search of something useful to watch.  I think, "I'm soooo gonna unload about that later..." and later never comes.

But on the heals of this post from last week, I feel like we're there.  Before I go there, or here whichever it is, I'm going to warn you in a non-sarcastic, actually serious way that you might not like or agree with what I have to say.  As I've said before, my space, my words, my opinions.  I am also going to say that while what I'm going to write about is based on very strong emotion and is driven by my very huge opinion on everything.  It is not meant to be or to come across as judgement, I'll leave that job to the Big Guy.

What I'm talking about, what's burning my tail feathers is TLC's (notice a trend in my channel affections?) Toddlers and Tiaras.  If you've never had the bad fortune of coming across this show I'll re-cap: basically it follows around pageant contestants and their families.  It's like the inside scoop on beauty competitions for little itty bitty children.  The content is so unbelievably upsetting to me I've never survived a whole episode.

Now, I'm not at all suggesting that these mothers and fathers don't love their children.  I will never throw that accusation at any parent, because I don't believe it humanly possible to completely not love a child.  If it is, I hope I never meet the person who can say they are void of emotion for their kids.

But the thing is I don't understand how they can parade these sweet little girls around dressed like adults.  And not classy adults at that.  I have daughters, absolutely, breath takingly beautiful daughters and while I am proud of their appearance, I am far more impressed with the little girls and future women that live within them.  I love their natural beauty (with pretend make-up if you're Audrey - I "air" apply blush because she wants to copy), I love their sweet kidlet smiles and the goofy songs they sing.  Watching them I believe without a shadow of a doubt they are more beautiful than I could ever try to be - it seeps from their pores.

These little girls on the show, starting at a very, very young age are caked in make-up, their mothers of all people apply whitening strips to their teeth, dressed in mini pageant gowns and forced to parade on stage.  Oh, the adults always say "They love it", "They want to do it" and maybe for a few they do.  But you can't tell me that a 3 year old came up with the idea to dress herself that way, dance across the stage shaking her yet to develop ta-tas and earn her momma a nice fat pay cheque.  I have to say, on that I call bullshit.

I'm sure these little ones love the pretty crowns, but I caught a glimpse of an episode the other night, as the winners we announced and I watched the faces of those little girls.  They were impartial to the win, the didn't care that they won, they looked void of emotion and my heart broke.  They're guardians in the audience however were thrilled, there's something wrong with that picture.

Children are supposed to play and get dirty, laugh and goof around, have crooked ponytails and stay up late just to sneak an extra story from Mom.  And not that these little ones never do that, but how much of their lives is being taken from them in "training", in practice, because, their parents want to live out a dream? 

This show, while maybe began in an attempt to show the good side of the pageant life, all it's done for me is left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.  We don't even enter our children in "Most Beautiful Baby" etc competitions because again I don't believe children are had to be exploited (again, if that's your choice this isn't judgement, but opinion).  I don't want Bethany and Audrey to feel as though Corey and I need to compare them to someone else.  There is no comparing two human beings, we weren't created to be the same, but rather unique.

But more than any of that, the part that leaves me unbelievably sad is the future.  What does the future look like for these itty bitty queens?  How will they ever, develop a healthy self esteem when they know that their mommy is comparing them to someone else?  How will they ever feel beautiful in the eyes of those who matter when, they know that someone holds their self esteem in their hands in the shape of a trophy or a rhinestone encrusted tiara?

For me, it all comes down to disgust, sadness and frustration, because I don't really think these mothers and fathers understand what they're doing to their daughters.  Maybe not in the moment but for the future moments to come.  And I hope that these sweet little girls, find their true beauty beyond the stage and know that they are worth more in they eyes of God than make-up can create, that their self worth soars because of the women they'll become and not the awards on their shelves and that each night, when they're tucked into bed at night some says I love you because you're you, and you are always a winner to me!


Kami's Khlopchyk said...

I watched it once for 10 min and that was all I could stomach. I agree with you 1000%!

The whole idea that the kids love it is so twisted. How often have I said that I love something only to hear one of my boys repeat it? Lots. I am not naive...I know they are repeating what I say.
Bullshit indeed! You call it like it is Ashley!

Leila said...

I can't even get through the commercials for that show. I find it SO upsetting! I'm not a mom yet, but I can't imagine the mentality behind putting your child through that. I worked in and around the Vancouver modeling scene for a while a few years back and it's brutal. The vast majority of the girls and women (and yes, the boys and men) have zero self esteem... why would you want to enter your child into that world? Especially at such a young age?!?! Sad. Ashley, your girls are lucky to have amazing parents who not only love them for who they are, but remind them of that every single day!