Recently I became rather absorbed with the subject of child pageants. “Absorbed” would be too big a word however, so let’s just call it incensed and bewildered for semantics’ sake.
Last month, a pageant for babies, toddlers and teens was supposed to take place in Ireland. “In Ireland?!” was my first thought. Again, for semantics’ sake, let’s say I nearly yelped at the idea because I believe pageants exist for two reasons only: overbearing moms and paedophiles looking for a quick fix.
The Dublin pageant, organised by US company Universal Royalty, was to take place at the four-star Bracken Court hotel in Balbriggan. A lot of pros and cons were written about it in the press, mainly con for obvious reasons, and eventually the pageant was called off. It was one of those rare moments when Ireland was quick to take action, and the “let’s use my child as bait for paedophiles” show was cancelled.
According to the Irish Times, “a statement released by the hotel said Universal Royalty “did not identify the true nature of the event” which was “not in keeping” with the family ethos of the business.” (If you check the About Us webpage of Universal Royalty however, you will find it hard to miss what the true nature of the event would be: “Wanting a pageant to be a positive learning experience for contestants to learn Competition, Positive Self Confidence & Striving To Be The Very Best“).
Politicians also became involved and Independent senator and children’s rights activist Jillian Van Turnhout claimed the contest should be cancelled as events like it ‘sexually exploit’ children at a young age. Mrs. Van Turnhout told the government Ireland should follow France’s lead. They made it illegal for children until 16 to participate and it would enforce up to two years in prison if the law was broken.
After reading about the Irish pageant, I wanted to find out what all the Irish fuss was about, so I turned to ‘brainless TV’ on TLC. Why brainless? You only need a couple of living brain cells to either digest what is happening, to turn up the volume or even better, to switch television channels. Brainless so.
Toddlers and Tiaras is the brainchild of some… no actually, I don’t even want to know who created the show. Why on earth, however, did they find it reasonably OK to sexualise girls, feeding paedophiles’ brains with horrific thoughts?
Take Maddy for example, a four-year-old girl dressed up like Dolly Parton, boobs and all.
Paisley, a three-year-old girl dressed in a Pretty Woman prostitute costume.
Or take Ava’s parents on the other hand, who let their 5 y/o mingle with the strippers (real ones!) from their business, and lock her into a cage for her own stripper routine during her child pageant performance (mom calls it “a ferocious lion routine).
If the costumes aren’t enough drama for you yet, then why not add teeth bleaching, Botox injections, tight corsets, fake eyelashes, false teeth and whatnot to small children?
About ten other words fill my mind to describe the sickening idea of child pageants, but I will refrain from writing them. I totally understand that each parent thinks their child is the most beautiful child in the world, but this is beyond believing this.
What kind of normal-thinking, loving, caring and protective mother would ever allow her little girl to dress sluttier than Lady Gaga or Madonna, filling their daughters’ faces with layers of fake tan and make up? Paedophiles would love to get their hands on those girls because sure, the girls are all out there for everyone to see, aren’t they? And if mothers weren’t bad enough, fathers are now also drawn into the whole child pageant dramatics.
We all know why moms push their children into shows like this. They never had the chance when they were small, or they weren’t pretty enough or their parents were against it. Many a psychologist can tell you why, but if you see a little girl screaming because the preparations hurt, or she doesn’t want to partake, and you push her as a parent, then you’re projecting your own dreams onto your child. One wise thought so: grow up mom!
But on I went so, staring aimlessly at TLC while my brain ached for National Geographic, James Joyce’s collected works and intelligent talk. I was flabbergasted when I noticed a trailer of a new spin-off show to Toddlers & Tiaras: “Here comes Honey Boo Boo!”
Alana Thompson, AKA Honey Boo Boo, is a cute all toddlers and even more tiaras kind of girl. Her magic drinking potion called Go Go Juice wakes her up and is as infamous as Thompson herself and is made of Red Bull and Mountain Dew. Eating habits are just as shameful: roadkill, large servings of butter mixed with ketchup, and other culinary non-delights. Cringeworthy? To say the least. I can safely say, with added honesty and despair, that HCHBB is the lowest of the lowest on TV. Low IQs all around and a family totally unaware of what a healthy diet even looks like.
Please believe me when I tell you that a) I have never ever seen a family as maladapted to society as they are, b) they seem to think it’s all OK to burp, fart and use bad language in public and c) let Alana dance on top of a table in a bar, at the age of 5. No wonder so Child Protective Services yelled ‘Boo!’ on their doorstep.
I therefore find it utterly incredulous that a television channel still calls itself The Learning Channel while using the Thompson family as some kind of research project or as a valid reason to learn from. The Thompsons can learn from us, not us from the Learning Channel.
Poor, poor world.
Sure, the Boo Boo kid is funny at a rate of perhaps once every show, but when girls cry and stamp themselves out of getting their eyebrows plucked – because you know, eyebrow plucking really does hurt – and out of being spray tanned, you can kind of guess the little one does not always love being in child pageants.
What I can also say in all honesty, and with even more disgust, is how blatantly outrageous children are pushed by their parents to win child pageants after watching so many videos on YouTube and on TLC. If an adult like myself feels upset and annoyed by watching grownups pushing their children to essentially make the dreams of the parents come true, what on earth is going on in the minds of children themselves?
What kind of mother cries right in front of a stage because her three-year-old daughter just won third place in the pageant instead of first place? What kind of message does that send to the girl? “Mom thinks I’m not good enough?” Low self-esteem guaranteed as she grows older.
What mother picks up her little girl from the stage and immediately tells her off for not doing her routine correctly? Give the kid a break, she wants to play with Barbie dolls instead of being a Barbie doll, and she wants to go home because she’s tired.
What I also noticed was the sad faces on still images of the girls before or after they go on stage. They look tired and in need of a cuddle instead of getting layers of make-up plastered on.
These children are facing an uncertain future being in the spotlight like this, and will have enough peer pressure as they grow older. Why not let kids be kids and let them play around with dolls, or run through mud or whatever they love doing most. Stop conditioning them to suit your needs, parents. You should live for your kid, not your kid making all your child dreams of making it big come true.
Another shocking thing is how far some parents go to get their child famous. I am not sure what Honey Boo Boo’s academic career looks like right now, but I’m sure she has to be at least a little more intelligent than Eden Wood, now the owner of her own show on brainless TV channels. Eden’s World is not about Eden as such, but in my view, more about her mom Mickie, manager Heather Ryan and publicist Andrew Sullivan fighting.
Cue mom sitting with a casting bureau but is told that, if Eden wants to be an actress, she will need to learn how to read after mom says she can’t yet. I almost fell out of my bed of utter shock… Eden is 7 years old but her mom has been more concerned with Eden winning pageants and being an actress, instead of getting Eden formal education. Apparently, Eden also cannot remember more than one friend’s name. I fear that her college fund will need extra money so.
If these kids are our future, I sincerely fear for that future. In some European countries pageants have never really been popular and are now seeing pageants cancelled for various reasons. Aside from the Dublin one being scrapped, the Miss Ulster pageant was cancelled in Belfast just days ago because of limitations set on the girls’ height and dress size.
Children “performing” at merely two months old in pageants isn’t entertainment, it is child abuse. Parents failing to provide a safe environment and emotional care amounts to neglect. It is also child neglect when parents show a reckless disregard for the child’s well-being. No matter how much spray tan you put on a girl against her will, no matter how many eyebrows you pluck while your child screams of pain, it is child neglect. Seeing girls having meltdowns just before going on stage, despite giving them a liter of soda is not in their best interest. It is quite wrongly in the parents best interest.
This here is a video of two girls interviewed in the Late Late Show on Irish television ahead of the pageant that was eventually cancelled. If it looks fake to you, then it probably is fake. You can hear mom laughing at what her little girl says, but funnily enough the crowd stays silent. Ireland just doesn’t do pageants very well.
Thank god for that!
To end, please watch this 7-minute video called Controversy of Child Beauty Pageants. If the statistics don’t scare you, perhaps the sad look on the faces of these girls will.
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