Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Toddlers and Tiaras

For the last year and a half of college I eschewed cable in favor money, and I didn't really miss it that much. But since I've had cable again, I don't know how I ever lived without TLC. I am addicted to this damn channel, especially what I like to call the Sunday night freak-show lineup. This is when TLC airs gems like "Pregnant Man" and "Woman with half a body who gets around on a skateboard" and "Billion-ton elephant guy who eats way too much fried chicken." Oh, and let's not forget the round-the-clock obsession with dwarfism (although at this point, is it really so interesting or exotic anymore? Especially the dwarf-family reality shows. I mean, the only difference I see is that they have shorter countertops. Those shows are really quite boring).

Anyway, there's this series called "Toddlers and Tiaras," and it covers the world of child beauty pageants. HATE. What kind of parent puts their damn toddler out to be judged on beauty and their appearance in a swimsuit? It's a disgusting display of enforcing arbitrary standards of feminism. The parents coach their daughters for hours a day on how to runway-walk, shake their hips (and sometimes chests), and wink seductively at judges. All of the parents defend themselves with the same line: "It builds self-esteem." SHENANIGANS, pageant parents. Judging your child's worth based on their appearance and imitations of sexuality will not make them feel good about themselves and their abilities later in life. All they will learn is that their worth is based on how feminine they appear. This particular featured pageant even has categories for "best eyes," "best hair," and "photogenic winner." The "talent" portion is no more than a token addition. Clearly appearance and femininity are what matters here.

If you want to build self-esteem in your daughter, there are a lot of things that you could base it on that have real and lasting use. Enroll her in a sport so that she can learn how strong and capable her body is. Spend your money on books, so she can start learning how wonderful reading is. Put her in front of an easel with fingerpaints, and tell her how much you admire her creativity. Let her play dress-up and explore her idenitity at home. But for the love of christ, don't make her parade out on a stage in front of judges in a swimsuit, shake her hips, spin, look seductively over her shoulder, tilt her sunglasses over her nose and wink at the judges. That's not how self-esteem is built. That's how you get a girl whose self-worth is overly-dependent on the opinions of others.


Lucy said...

Those things make me sad too! They should be banned. Period. Oh, well free country and all, but it makes me sick to my stomach, just sick to my stomach. You wrote it beautifully, all I can say again is sad and sick to my stomach!!!

Anonymous said...

Fuck you.
This is the same crap that comes from people all over who never got the chance to be in one.
howabout you take a real look at what pageants are instead of some TLC show thats sole purpose is to make beauty pageants into something soul-less.

Phoebe Caulfield said...

Ok, Anonymous, we're waiting. How about you tell us what child beauty pageants REALLY are? Although I always appreciate a hearty "fuck you," I would like to hear you articulate your reasoning. If you feel that the TLC show was biased, I'm going to need to hear what someone like you thinks to make a sound judgment, won't I?

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