9.29.2011

Taking Away Childhood – Toddlers And Tiaras Part III



By Lawrence W. Daly

toddlerstiaras.jpgThe research is compelling that the Toddlers and Tiaras has no benefit to a child, but to a parent and promoter yes. Since the late 1920’s parents have been dressing up their children ages 2-10 and sometimes younger to win the title of Tiaras and the prize, generally scholarships and money. What are the benefits to the child who every day is dolled up and practices body postures and facial positions? Let us examine and evaluate what those in the Toddlers and Tiaras profession have to say about this continuing controversial competition.

There is nothing wrong that teaching your child that you should be the best you can be at something seems reasonable. Expending time with your parents, generally your mother would help a child in the bonding aspects between mother and child. Providing positive incentives for the child to reach for maybe good or bad depending on what the child is asked to do. With all these positive traits come the negative psychological issues.

Although the Toddler and Tiaras competition occurs for the majority of the time on the weekends, it does not allow a child who has to attend school during the week an opportunity to meet with schoolmates, peers, family and friends during their free time and weekends. These relationships are important to children as it establishes social etiquette, bonding, friendships which are important and etc. The time to socially develop is a part of being humans. Without relationships we would be isolated into the darkness, loneliness, depression and other negative psychological issues.

The environment that these children are a part of can go from  mellow to a screaming audience. The child mentally cannot register for the most part what is happening. The parent or promoter may explain to the child what will happen, but for the first couple times the child will not understand what is happening around them. Is it possible that these children will become candidates for eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia? Their world surrounds perfection in body shapes, appearances and facial art.

The research which has yet to be uncovered is how many of these children will be the target of being sexually abused. Is the likelihood that these children are objects of sexual fantasy and affection the beginning of detriment to the child? The exposure of this sexual scenario is greater than any other normal child will be exposed to. The ability to protect themselves relies upon a parent who is willing to protect their child at all costs. However, the logic of why a parent would put their child through this type of environment questions the reasonableness of such actions.

What if the child does not have the physical abilities to do what the judges require for one to compete in the Toddlers and Tiaras competitions? Let us assume that the rules require more than a child being dressed up or made up. If the child looks good, but is incapable of performing than the purpose of entertaining the judges could be a negative event for the child.

A life of anxiety is something these children are exposed to. To be the best they can be, to please their parents, promoters, judges and audiences is asking a lot of a two year old child. As the child grows older so does the anxiety. The expectations from those who surround the child also grow as time marches on. Are the parents asking too much of the child? What if the child doesn’t want to be a part of these competitions?

toddlers-and-tiaras-carley-darla.jpgAs I indicated in the first two articles I wrote on this subject there are so many unanswered questions which need to be considered and dealt with. In other child competitions there are rules and regulations which those who are involved must abide by. In conducting research into the Toddlers and Tiaras, author Kareen Nussbaum provides an interesting insight into the issues surrounding these competitions. Her research indicates, “According to the Attorney General of the Department of Justice in California, “there is no law that prescribes how a pageant must be managed, the rules are set by each contest promoter.” Pageants are usually operated by for-profit organizations that produce a local, state or national contest that appeal to many age groups for different reasons.”

Is Ms. Nussbaum correct that the children participating in these competitions participate at the whim of the local promoters? Where is the protection to the child’s health and welfare? Nussbaum continues, “Some mothers lie about their child's age so the child can appear more mature and poised for that age group; now some pageants require birth certificates along with the entry forms to validate age. Beauty pageants are one of the fastest growing businesses in America grossing over 5 billion dollars (Coleman, Phyllis).”

There have been many articles written on the negative attributes that children who are forced to participate in the Toddlers and Tiaras suffer from. It is easy to identify the many aspects of the competition which puts to question the desire by a parent to have their children develop into an instant star. So why are these competitions becoming such a successful adventure. The television reality show on TLC called “Toddlers and Tiaras” is now into its third year. Providing autobiographical information about children who compete in these competitions.
Parent and Child.jpg 
So who are you who expend your time watching a show like “Toddlers and Tiaras?” It isn’t for me to judge, but it is for me to question the ethics of what is happening in this society that a television which promotes pedophilia, sexual themes, unhappiness, has support from society. Is it possible that instead of supporting the television show that just maybe it would be more reasonable and logical to turn the channel and refuse to watch children used as objects, tools for financial success and an open door for those who have sexual fantasies about sexually assaulting children.

It is a difficult and tough stance to ask society to stop those who take advantage of children’s innocence and vulnerability. It is easy to say enough is enough and ask your legislatures to put in place rules and regulations which protect the children who are forced to participate in these competitions.

Tomorrow, I will continue to delve into the “Toddlers and Tiaras” competition and the children who are forced to participate. My research will deal more with the parents and who they are and address some of the issues surrounding the motivation of who they are trying to be and achieve.

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