by Kimberly Froeschner
By now I'm sure you've heard of TLC's reality show, "Toddlers and Tiaras" and the new spinoff, "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." (Disclaimer: I do not watch either of these shows, but I've seen commercials and heard many things about them.) Honestly, it's hard to believe that these shows have an audience. I understand the concept of watching a train wreck, but these shows are getting signed up for another season. Horrified, I tell you.
If you've managed to escape this circus, the premise is an in-depth look at young girls (toddler/preschool in some cases) participating in beauty pageants. "Aw, that's cute" you might say to yourself. It would be cute if it wasn't cut-throat, with the little girls often looking like hoochie-mamas (instead of little dolls like back in the day).
This is just one part of what is wrong with this show. The stage moms who sign up their daughters to participate in this vicious "sport" seem to be living vicariously through their kids in hope of some glory that eluded them in the past. They push their kids to the edge of their abilities, treating them as adults and teaching them to be ruthless winners at any cost. The women in these shows seem to pit the little girls against each other in a contest where the children have no ability to affect the outcome other than how they look and perform compared to someone else. The message seems to be that if the girls aren't someone else's definition of pretty or "special", then they don't count. They don't "win."
When I was about 7 years old I was in a girls club. This club had a pageant for a fundraiser. It wasn't your typical pageant, meaning it wasn't a contest. Instead, each girl picked a country and dressed in that country's costume, carried the flag and did a short report on the country. It was a lot of fun! I still remember it to this day and I remember how all the girls were so excited to do their bit. There was no backstabbing and we were all proud of what we'd done.
Don't get me wrong...Girls should be able to compete, but let's compete in ways that teach and inspire. Let them play sports, join the chess club, and participate in contests of ability, not looks. Little girls do not need to learn to be ruthless and mean! If the beauty pageants are fun, teach good sportsmanship, and boost self-esteem, by all means, let's do it. The behavior depicted in these shows is just the opposite, though - do we really need to support it?
If Honey Boo Boo is your guilty pleasure, I only ask that you keep it to yourself and don't share this with your daughter. Let's focus on our abilities as women and build each other up instead of tearing each other down.