Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I have a lot of problems with these "pageants", but the main one is that the kids are distorted beyond all recognition. First of all, it isn't just girls dressing up in fancy clothes. This is serious competition, so the parents pull out all stops to ensure that their little princess won't be dubbed a pathetic loser. This includes applying a coat of "spray-on tan" because some girls have pale skin and freckles, and that just won't do.
I was watching one of the contestants, an eleven year old girl who looked about nineteen, and I noticed that in addition to her burnt sienna complexion, her smile looked a bit wonky. Theresa explained to me that the girls sometimes wear "flippers", which are fake teeth that they stick in front of their real ones. Well, this girl must've gotten a set that was a few sizes too big, because the overall effect was "The Joker in drag."
This must do wonders for the kids' self-image. Nothing emphasizes "inner beauty" like fake teeth and a coat of paint.
Oh, but it gets worse. The kids don't just march across the stage, they're encouraged to (and I think this is an official pageant instruction), "work it, girl." A four-year old, mimicking her mother who stood off-stage, actually licked her finger and then touched her butt with it, as if to say, "Ooooh, that's sizzlin'!" SHE'S NOT EVEN IN KINDERGARTEN YET! Other toddlers, always copying Mom, engaged in shaking the booty, riding the pony, and other decidedly un-toddler-like gesticulations. It looked like they were auditioning for "Honey, I Shrunk the Stripper."
One mother, in a fleeting moment of common sense, mentioned that she wasn't comfortable with her four-year old "going on stage in a bikini, because you don't know who's looking." Well, how about that, the voice of reason. She discussed it with her husband and friends, and after a few minutes they made a sadly predictable decision. Precious Tiffany wore the bikini. I guess they discovered that one of her opponents was taking the stage in an OshKosh thong and a set of "Baby's First Hooters".
None of the parents on Toddlers and Tiaras seem like they're playing with a full set of Tinker Toys. Generally speaking, there are two types of pageant-parents. First, you have the stage moms who competed in beauty pageants themselves, but have now reached the age where no one wants to see them in a bikini any longer. Liposuction, plastic surgery, botox, none of it has worked. So now they focus on destroying their daughters. At the other end of the spectrum, there are the redneck parents who are just trying to convince themselves that Betty Sue with the hunchback has a lucrative modeling career ahead of her.
And the things these parents say. "We gotta get 'Most Beautiful' this time. Are you sure you put on enough eye shadow?"
"Flippers! Where are her flippers?! We can't let her go on stage with her own teeth!"
"Work it, Betty Sue! Shake that fanny!"
These idiots make Balloon Boy's folks look like Mike and Carol Brady.
Lest you think the competition is all about looks, there is also a talent component. Some girls dance, some girls sing, but once again, there are limits. I'm willing to concede that pole dancing is a talent, but NOT WHEN YOU'RE SIX!
Until then, we're stuck with Toddlers in Tiaras, working to build a future generation of Hooters waitresses, Vegas showgirls, and trailer-park floozies.