This evening I watched a show that was so creepy and disturbing, I have trouble even writing about it. The show was called "Toddlers and Tiaras" and it was about child beauty pageants. Now, before I go any further, let me say I hope I am not offending anyone whose child participates in these pageants. They seem to be acceptable to a large group of people -- parents mostly. The children participating in these things seem to be doing it mostly to please their parents, and also because small children don't know any better. They trust the big people in their lives. They actually have professional coaches who teach these children how to pose, wink, wiggle their hips and generally strut their stuff. In other words, there are grownups out there who teach these children how to sexualize themselves.
"Hair-do" and "makeup" are two words that should never be used in reference to a two year-old. But these little tads, starting from the age of six months, or even younger, are being squeezed into sequined miniature replicas of adult ball gowns and hair extensions, and hair spray is lacquered onto their back-combed hair. They are painted up with false eyelashes, lipstick, rouge, eyeshadow, eyeliner and spray-on tans. And then they are being forced out onto a stage to perform for the adults who are judging them.
"Smile for the judges, honey, and look right into their eyes when you do it."
Is this nonsense really legal, and if so, why? You have to go a very long way to find anything creepier than this. There was a film several years ago called "Pretty Baby" starring Brooke Shields, playing a 12 year-old prostitute named Violet. Violet became the object of fascination and affection of a much older photographer. Violet was eventually auctioned off to the highest bidder. She had become nothing more than a beautiful object, and she was robbed of her childhood.
The little girls in these pageants are being taught to compete with each other on the basis of artificial beauty. There is nothing natural about them. Not one thing. What kind of lesson is that for a six year-old?
Looking at these pictures disturbs me. To me, they don't look pretty; they look revolting. I would like to wash their faces, comb their hair and send them out to play in the back yard.