Toddlers and Tiaras: A Discrete Form of Child Abuse… Help Ban The Show Now!

I just recently saw a promo for this show. I was completely shocked and saddened….

All of us need to take a stand and demand that TLC/Discovery Channel stop this public exploitation and degradation of little children! My heart sunk when I saw a sweet innocent toddler in her footie-pajamas getting a hair extension attached to her head.  The clincher was seeing a tiny three-year-old getting her blue corset laced up. All these images are on the TLC/Discovery website.

Why does Toddlers and Tiaras exist?   Trying to watch Super Nanny is troubling enough but I get even more distraught and outraged as these moms hover over their JonBenet look-a-likes applying spray tans and gluing on false eye-lashes. Some of the moms make their toddlers diet and dye their hair – all of this only sends the message, you’re only valued if you change all the natural things about yourself.

Sexualizing young kids — specifically toddlers, is unconscionable. 

Anyone who’s raised a toddler knows how difficult it is to get them to do anything. They use their newfound independence to explore the world, test their power and see where their ingenuity takes them.  How in the world can these beauty-pageant toddlers develop normally when their moms force them to perform like show-ponies?

Watching my toddler brings me immense joy as he peacefully explores his world on his own timetable.  It would be preposterous to make him walk down a runway, masquerading as a grownup with the expectation of entertaining adults.  It’s sick and pathological.

Toddlers and Tiara’s exploits the kids, but it’s the mothers who need help. They live vicariously through their offspring and feel if they can’t achieve the gold medal, their kid should. These moms define their success and self-worth through their child’s accomplishments.  Toddlers aren’t supposed to accomplish anything.  They have the first five years of life to run, paint, explore, laugh and play  — because once Kindergarten comes around, the expectations start to kick in.

So why do these mothers come down so hard on their toddlers?  Why don’t they see how wrong and coercive it is when they enroll their babies in these events that are a variant of pornography?  The cameras on this show capture real moments between parents and their children – there’s no creative editing.  When a toddler has had enough and doesn’t want to perform, they breakdown and cry while getting hostile treatment and rejection from their parent.

In everyday life, a kid usually gets in trouble for misbehaving, but this situation, toddlers get punished for not living out their parent’s dream.  I do hope my concerns convey the serious long-term psychological damage these parent’s are causing their little girls.

If you hit an adult it’s called battery, if you hit an animal it’s called cruelty, but if you hit a child it’s considered discipline. Nothing illustrates this better than the recent story of Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback who went to prison for a year and a half due to his involvement in a dog-fighting ring.  Vick was vilified nationally as stories of abuse, torture and execution of under-performing dogs came to light.

The Humane Society of the United State (HSUS) goes to great lengths–working with lawmakers, law enforcement officers, community organizers, and others to protect animals from abuse.  Yet there aren’t similar standards for those who exploit very young children. We have child labor laws but no laws to protect the young from being ‘Adultified.’ Beauty pageants shouldn’t encourage families with toddlers and preschoolers to participate in something that affects a child’s normal social development or that strains the parent-child relationship.  Pageant standards need to be re-written to ensure that contestants are not paraded on stage in a way that sexualizes them to look like adults.

Making children participate in inappropriate Vegas/showgirl-like events, then punishing them with psychological head-trips for not performing, may not fit the standard definition of child abuse, but in my profession, it would surly be considered wrongful and coercive parenting. What child can thrive under those conditions?

Many Facebook pages exist asking TLC to stop production, such as this one that I’m a member of:Help Ban the TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras.” Their description: “These girls are scantily clad, painted up like dolls, making them look too mature for their age. These children are being exploited by these pageants and by the show. This show is promoting pedophilia, and is very much sexualizing these children.”

If you want your kid to be a beauty queen wait until she’s old enough to make the decision on her own. Very young children should enjoy their childhood without the responsibilities of an adult.  Some people lost their childhood due to unfortunate circumstance, but these kids don’t have a childhood because they came out of the womb, were weaned off a bottle and tossed on to the catwalk.

Sadly, this level of discrete child abuse exists whether it’s televised or not.  A show like Toddlers and Tierra’s only serves to mass market what should instead be viewed as a blight on childhood.

Kimberley Clayton Blaine is the author of the Go-To Mom book series. She’s the mom of two young kids, a parenting expert and a licensed Family and Child Therapist who specializes in working with children ages newborn to six years old. Kimberley is the executive producer of a webshow, called www.TheGoToMom.TV. Kimberley is a national speaker and teaches Early Childhood Brain Development and Positive Discipline Strategies at UCLA Extension Education.

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