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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Are Pageant Moms Abusing Their Daughters on "Toddlers & Tiara" and "Honey Boo Boo?"

     About a year after a 5-year-old beauty pageant contestant on TLC's popular series "Toddlers & Tiaras" performed a Dolly Parton dance parody in padded boobs and a fake butt, her father, pursuant to a divorce action, petitioned a California judge for custody of the child. Citing a pair of psychologists who believe the child's pageant mom injuriously sexualized their daughter, the father is accusing the woman he is divorcing of child abuse.

     TLC's new reality pageant series called "Honey Boo Boo," a "Toddlers & Tiaras" spin-off featuring a 6-year-old "beauty" queen from McIntrye, Georgia, has created a child exploitation controversy of its own. Honey Boo Boo Child, the hyperactive star of the show, eats roadkill, guzzles a cocktail of Mountain Dew and Red Bull, and proudly squeezes her energy drink-gut into a mound of flab for the amusement (and disgust) of her TV audience. (If you think reality TV has hit rock bottom, watch this show.)

     As the pudgy "toddler" mugs for the camera, cuts on-air cheese, and generally acts the redneck fool, her hefty, low-class mother, sporting more chins than a Chinese phone book (sorry), looks on with clod-hopper pride. "Honey Boo Boo" is a pathetic portrayal of losers who think they are living the American dream. While millions of TV viewers obviously adore the show, its most severe critics are accusing this girl's pageant mom of child abuse. Others simply consider the spectacle a crime against taste.

     The art and science of parenting has sunk so low in this country, psychologists and psychiatrists have to tell people how to raise their children. It's gotten that bad. Since the dawn of the drug culture in the late 1960's, more and more children are being raised by prescription pill and alcohol abusers, emotional basket-cases, functional illiterates, and permanently immature idiots. How many times have you heard some narcissistic knucklehead say, "I'm doing this reality show for my children," or "My kids want me to be happy." What a load of crap. Children don't give a damn about your happiness. They are concerned about their wellbeing. Parents who refuse to grow up are producing neurotic, nasty kids who in turn populate the country with another generation of jerks. It's no wonder we are becoming a nation of nut cases, sociopaths, and drug addled losers.

     For the pageant moms on "Toddlers & Tiaras," these beauty contests are all about them. These mothers lose parental control of their daughters because the kids hold all of the cards. These moms need these pint-sized performers more than the pageant contestants need them. It's not surprising that these 5 to 9-year-old trash-talking narcissist are out of control mini-sociopaths desperately in search of parental control and guidance. To hell with the psychologists and psychiatrists, maybe we should bring in the TV dog whisperer to set these mothers straight.

     If you watch "Toddlers & Tiaras," you have to ask yourself why would a mother spend so much time, money, and emotional energy in pursuit of a five-foot tall, 4-ounce trophy representing one of those ridiculous pageant titles such as "ultra, grand, supreme." And what does it mean to win one of these big trophies? It means the judges liked the winner's fake hair, front-teeth, tan, eyelashes, and nails. The $2,000 dress also helped. Pageant losers and their distraught mothers, coaches, hairdressers, and make-up artists, slink out of the pageant site hotel with dazed kids carrying their puny trophies and demeaning titles like third runner-up queen. Pageant losers spend all of that money and effort to learn that their kids are untalented and not that beautiful. There has got to be something profoundly wrong with these people.

     I'm not a sociologist, criminologist or any other kind of ologist, but so-called glitz beauty pageants for little girls, and the popularity of this genre of reality TV, says something awful about our popular culture. These televised spectacles of humiliation, stupidity, and false hope reflects bad parenting, the increasing vulgarity of our society, and the nation's obsession with cheap, ill gotten fame.

     In an earlier era, these contests would have been widely viewed as a form of child abuse. Pageant moms would have been accused of turning their little girls into circus freaks. Today, in the context of bad parenting and criminality, this form of child exploitation by parents and pageant operators, while perhaps mildly deviant, does not rise to the legal or criminal definition of child abuse.

     If pandering politicians start passing laws banning child beauty pageants, what's next? Little league baseball? Criminalizing stupid behavior by neurotic and ignorant parents will not improve child raising in this country. If we start putting lousy parents behind bars, half of America's youngsters will be raised by the government. (A good percentage of them are currently being raised by day-care workers.) Since the government can't even properly educate our kids, this is not a good idea. Kiddie pageants will be around until they are stigmatized or shamed out of business. Unfortunately, we live in a culture in which the concept of shame is vanishing before our eyes.       



  1. Have you ever considered that the breakdown of the American family and society is one of the reasons that 'government' is unable to educate our children. Teachers only have as much influence as society allows

  2. I find your comments on this family classist. If they are happy and functioning, I don't see how you can judge them. I have never watched this show, but I'm basing my comments on your own observations. As someone who grew up in abject poverty, I can say that you wouldn't have "approved" of my upbringing either. Now that I have "married up," I must say that poor people have it over rich people in child rearing. At least poor people pay attention to their children, instead of paying a nanny.