This week's front cover of People Magazine features the reality show "Toddlers and Tiaras", a television show about children's beauty pageants. The inside cover features an advertisement for a new TV show called "The Playboy Club". The tagline for the "The Playboy Club" reads "Don't let the fluffy tails fool you." As soon as I opened the cover, the irony of the connection between the two articles hit me, along with the similarity of the over-the-shoulder glances of the little girl/woman in the photographs.
I'm not a prude, and I have no problem with the sexualization of adults. Sexuality is an integral part of being human. It's what makes the world go around. But I do have a problem with the sexualization of little girls, and children's beauty pageants do just that. Little girls are heavily made up to emphasize full lips and long eyelashes, they are spray tanned, hair sprayed, glittered and glamourized, and paraded around on a stage in revealing outfits in provocative poses, for adults to judge them. Many of the judges are adult men, and I find that just a little bit creepy. The little girls range in age from about two years old to 14. In the People Magazine article, one mother said that her little girl was on a beauty pageant stage when she was seven days old. That's right ~~ seven days old.
All little girls love to play dress-up. I remember clomping around in my mother's high heels, wearing lipstick from the samples the Avon lady left at our house. Sometimes I would put a towel on my head and pretend I had long hair. It was wonderful fun, and every little girl loves to do it, and my daughter loved to do it as well. But there is no way in the world my mother would ever have allowed me to look like this, nor would have I allowed my daughter to do this. What is wrong with the parents of these little girls? Don't they understand the extent to which they are putting their children in harm's way? The murder of JonBenét Ramsey has never been solved. For several years her parents were the prime suspects, until they were absolved of any blame. But just how responsible were they, indirectly? Child beauty pageants are open to the public. Anyone can attend them, and they're not regulated. In fact, child beauty pageants have no regulations at all. The cost of entering the pageants is far more then any of the meagre winnings. And yet, for a huge multi-billion dollar business exploiting children, there are no rules regarding child labor laws. And make no mistake, these children are being exploited by the networks who televise these shows as well.
Reality TV has gotten out of control. We are now privy to all aspects of people's personal lives. I'm not really interested in what people eat, or what they hoard, or with whom they socialize/fight/sleep, or how much money they make at garage sales... But I do think any reality show that involves children's private lives should be banned. Children don't have a say in how much of their privacy is revealed to millions of people. Childhood is the time when we ~~ the big people ~~ should be protecting children, not exploiting them. This "Toddlers and Tiaras" show is creepy. Please cancel it.