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Toddlers & Tiaras

TLC really needs to change its name


Sometimes it's hard to be woman.

If you’ve ever dreamed of spray painting your toddler orange, gluing their clothing to their butt cheeks, then parading them around in front of an audience of warped adults and their children, then this is the show for you–and possibly Gary Glitter.  The show first aired in January of this year, but is now being rerun. I never really paid much attention to it until now, and now that I have I’m, well, “appalled” is the only word that comes to mind.  For those who have never heard of it, here’s a blurb from TLC:

On any given weekend, on stages across the country, little girls and boys parade around wearing makeup, false eyelashes, spray tans and fake hair to be judged on their beauty, personality and costumes. Toddlers & Tiaras follows families on their quest for sparkly crowns, big titles, and lots of cash.

The preparation is intense as it gets down to the final week before the pageant. From hair and nail appointments, to finishing touches on gowns and suits, to numerous coaching sessions or rehearsals, each child preps for their performance. But once at the pageant, it’s all up to the judges and drama ensues when every parent wants to prove that their child is beautiful.

At first it sounded like they were condemning the baby pageant circuit,  but that was only because I saw these circuses of vicarious achievement and validation as exploitative events  that promote the very opposite ideals I would hope people would instill in their children.  There’s no way I could make it through this entire series without my head exploding from anger, and many of you might be the same, but the channel is still technically The Learning Channel, which means we have to take something away from it, so here’s a quick rundown of the things I learned.


  • You can actually make a two-year old look slutty.
  • Children look frightening with spray-on tans.
  • If you really work at it, you can make a toddler’s hair bigger than her body.
  • Blue eye-shadow ages you, even when you’re 3.
  • Baby tooth loss is so embarrassing that parents will make their pageant babies wear partial dentures called “flippers” to hide their missing (or “imperfect”) teeth during pageants–because you wouldn’t want to disrupt that pedophilic fantasy.
  • There are a lot of parents out there who need therapy.
  • Their children will follow suit.

I know this all sounds a bit unbelievable, so here’s a video (double click on it as embedding is disabled).  To witness even more fuckeduppedness, you can watch a series of segments on TLC.

(Thanks, Jess and Michael!)


June 25, 2009 - Posted by | Culture Critic, Daily Whims | , , ,


  1. There is something seriously wrong with mothers who paint up their child to look like a whore at 3 and 4 years old. I’ve been tempted to watch it at times, but I refuse on the grounds that I feel I would be enabling these morons.

    Comment by XENU | June 25, 2009 | Reply

  2. Somewhere out there is an older documentary designed to sort of expose the sadness of child pageants. I *think* the original was called something like, “Beautiful Babies,” but don’t quote me on that, as I’m too lazy to go check right now. Anyhow, fairly recently, the filmmaker went back and did a “where are they now” sort of thing on the same girls. It was, to me, equally sad. But if you’re into laughing at the distinctive freak-show that is a pageant child, then I recommend checking it out.

    Comment by Roxydarling | June 25, 2009 | Reply

  3. “I’m smiling on the inside” I bet her mom told her that, right after she told her there was no such thing as pretty on the inside.

    This show, and posts like this irritate the hell out of me. (Not Squee-ers, just the mention of the disfigured pagent system.) It’s frustrating, because WE did pagents growing up, and it was nothing like this. Yes, we wore make-up and had our hair done…but we never had color, or nails, and my mom always made sure our make up was more subtle than fake eyelashes and blue eye shadow. There was more camaraderie, less flaunting. It was fun, and we weren’t restricted from being kids to do them. I had a ton of experiences I never would have had, not to mention a few thousand in college scholarships, by the time we quit doing them. I learned public speaking and composure. It was FUN. Of course, in saying this I should mention that we QUIT doing them because it got cut throat. You couldn’t even ask to borrow a bobby-pin anymore, and my mom yanked us right out.

    Comment by AdmittedlyAddicted | June 25, 2009 | Reply

  4. We have pageant crazies as neighbors. The mom is obsessed and has apparently had the cops called on her at a pageant. Apparently she was upset by her daughter’s performance and banned her from the pageants for awhile to punish her. These poor neighbor kids always look dirty – fake tans don’t last very long and obviously haven’t been taught to take off their makeup when they are done with their pageant. I have had them over days after they are back and they still have leftover eye-makeup on. The worst is the kids get pulled out of school for highlights or nail appointments at least twice a month.

    If I sound bitter it is because I can’t stand the mom in our neighborhood. She has made comments to my 5 year old about her “Thick” eyebrows, and implied she is heavy (she also used the word thick to describe my daughter as she picked her up). I know these are things that will come up as a girl, but I would prefer to deal with these things when she is a teenager, not 5.

    AA- it sounds like you were in it when it actually taught you lessons and usable skills. I can understand your disgust.

    Comment by Payter | June 25, 2009 | Reply

  5. Payter, I admire you. I’d punch the first person that called my daughter OR her eyebrows “thick.”

    Comment by AdmittedlyAddicted | June 25, 2009 | Reply

  6. Payter, second the admiration for your restraint.

    Any mom who had the temerity to say anything remotely negative about my 5 year old’s appearance where my daughter could hear it would be politely asked to step outside where I could speak to her in private.

    I’d then tell her she was a disgusting pig of a woman with fucked up priorities and that if she wanted to turn her kids into neurotic monsters, that was her perogative, but that if I caught her criticizing MY kid again, I’d rip out her throat, feed it to the dogs, and kick her twitching body while she bled out at my feet.

    Ok, maybe I wouldn’t say that last part. But I’d want to.

    Comment by SeaKat | June 25, 2009 | Reply

  7. I just want to note that that’s 2 uses of temerity today (someone used it earlier, i think it was stm) and i don’t know what it means, but i want it to be a part of my life vocabulary.

    Also, don’t you mean propogative?

    Comment by baby fish mouth | June 25, 2009 | Reply

  8. Essentially, temerity = cojones, balls, stones, etc. only there’s a level of stupidity implied.

    Comment by SeaKat | June 25, 2009 | Reply

  9. AA and SeaKat, thanks for the support. I am essentially waiting for the day when she says anything about my daughter again. Believe me, I saw her at the pool today and my fists were at the ready. She didn’t say anything about my daughter, but instead went on and on about the size of swimsuit her 8 year old daughter wears. (she is so tiny, she fits into a swimsuit a 6 year old can wear, blah, blah, blah). So instead of punching her, I just stared at her fat rolls and contemplated the term Vicarious.

    Comment by Payter | June 26, 2009 | Reply

  10. I don’t advocate passive aggression but in this case I’d make an exception. I’d be all over it, with something like “Well, yeah we just don’t want ot raise our children to be shallow and vapid. We like to think they have brains and talent. We know not everyone is so lucky.”

    Comment by baby fish mouth | June 26, 2009 | Reply

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