Wednesday, March 14, 2012

No Child Beauty Pageants For My Daughter, Please

Reality television is literally like a train wreck. On some shows, one can witness the worst in human behavior, yet people still watch faithfully. There have even been “viewing parties” held during some of the more popular programs, a fact that still baffles me to this day.

One such program I had the displeasure of watching was controversial TLC show “Toddlers & Tiaras,” which profiles child beauty pageant contestants and their families. Already in its fifth season since premiering in 2009, the show is popular for all the wrong reasons.

The mothers of the young pageant contestants all push their girls, some young as two, to emotional and physical limits. They parade the little girls around in makeup, big hairdos, and even bathing suits. In the few times I’ve watched the show, I’ve never seen a father be involved in the shenanigans. As a father of a daughter, it troubles me to see little girls be put through the rigors of a pageant. I wondered often if the fathers are in the lives of the girls and how they felt about seeing their child in that light.

Perhaps I have a narrow male perspective but there is something limiting in this preemie beauty pageant nonsense that suggests the only goals these mothers have for their little girls is a life of preening and primping. I don’t see how a beauty pageant, especially at such young ages, promotes anything other than vanity. I would be appalled to watch the mother of my child force her to do something that adds such little value to her life.

I’m not alone in this thinking, as recent news suggests that the trend of child pageants teeters close to indecency. In France, lawmakers have banned child beauty pageants; this after a 10-year old girl was featured on the cover of Vogue Paris in attire not fit for a child. I don’t know if such a ban could happen here but I’m taking a stand for fathers who would rather see other ideals promoted in their little girls. Beauty and fashion are fine things to aspire towards, but what message does this ultimately send?

Just this week, the father of JonBenet Ramsey, the murdered beauty pageant contestant, came forward this week and called the Toddlers & Tiaras show “bizzare” although he allowed his child to participate. Reading his story, John Ramsey showed serious regret in letting his daughter enter the contests. I am in no way suggesting that JonBenet’s participation in these events led to her passing. Instead, I am glad to see one father finally speak up against the practice.

I happen to think my daughter is beautiful and worthy of being a supermodel should she choose that life as she gets older. For now, she has a lot of growing up to do and I’m in no rush to speed her down that path. Fathers, it’s ok to speak up for your little girls in cases like this. We have to protect our princesses any way we can.


  1. An interesting topic as a dad...and one that's left me with the dilemma of giving my girls room to be girls, without them being forced by society to compromise who they are.

    I have three young daughters, two of which do competition dance and even that has been a culture shock for me. Now, my girls love dancing and they long to be involved in it, but the underlying sexualization of girls is what has me rattled. While they may not be pushed to the extremes of the show referenced in this post, they do compete in costumes and makeup (so that the judges can see their facial expressions). Our dance company is pretty modest compared to most, so that gives me some relief, but there are still so many opportunities to reinforce where their value comes from that it gives me pause.

    I think the downfall is the fact that dads aren't getting involved in these things to begin with. I would presume that less of this would take place if dads were there to experience it for themselves.

  2. Thanks for the comment, FF! I do want to begin by saying that I'm not at all experienced in this sort of thing. I just never saw the point, and the opinions expressed in the blog are all my own. I just think, as you've said, what would be the culture of these events if dads were on hand to witness the behind the scenes action? I just don't know if I could handle it. Perhaps I need to revisit this topic at a later date after I've been educated more on what happens.

    Thanks for the comment again!

  3. Thank you - its about time fathers spoke up.

  4. A parents job is what? To keep their kids safe, not to exploit them for fame, fortune, or ego inflation. This show is greatly disturbing to me and the parents who put their kids in these events are even more disturbing. If they want to enter something in a show get a dog.
    I applaud your for pointing out how wrong these pageants are, I am sure many viewers of the show agree but then sort of start to think "hey I wonder how my daughter would do?". I wonder if the producers really thought out the direction this show would take in actually promoting this sort of twisted parenting.
    Great blog.


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