Have you seen Toddlers and Tiaras?
You’ve probably heard about it. This TLC show has gained a lot of hype recently as more (what seem to be) crazy mothers throw their toddlers into the pageant world. To help you out, I’ve included some videos to prove some of my points throughout this post. You're welcome.
Here is a little background information. I feel like I know a little about the pageant world because my sister participated in them when she was in college. I have sat through more out-of-tune renditions of “Over the Rainbow” than I like to admit. The industry in general is a strange place, even for older participants. Those competing in the Miss Texas pageant are fighting for scholarship money, but they must do so while wearing a bikini and heels.
Now when it comes to toddler pageants, I admit they are a lot stranger. A three-year-old girl is dressed up to look exactly like a doll so she can win the following: a crown bigger than her own head, a trophy that stands taller than she is, handfuls of cash, and most likely the bribe of a new toy her parents offered her.
Many of these girls’ (or boys’) mothers were involved in pageants when they were children. Some of them are reliving their glory days and want the spotlight more than they want their children to succeed. But others are following their driven children right onto the stage. I’ve seen several episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras where a four-year-old is the one wanting to compete and do all the work.
Perhaps the funniest, and most made fun of, part of the show is when pageant mothers in the audience try to coach their children in their talent routines. Some little girls get on stage and completely freeze in front of the judges. Moms are often seen directly behind the panel, dancing like crazy, trying to get their children to follow. You often wonder why the mom just doesn’t kick her kid off stage and do the routine herself.
One of my favorite things about this show is not necessarily how the mothers are treating their kids. I know making your child have a spray tan and giving her huge amounts of coffee, Mountain Dew and sugar is wrong, but it makes it much more fun when the mothers’ efforts backfire. And they often do.
For example, I remember one episode in which a mother gushed over her beautiful six-month-old daughter. She claimed her baby loved being on stage and loved doing pageants. She even fed her child coffee in a bottle! Later we see the same baby on stage, screaming, crying and not “loving the stage” one bit.
This show is not without a shock factor. In a recent episode, contestants dressed up as celebrities or characters from movies for the “talent” portion of the pageant. Much to everyone’s shock and disappointment, one mother thought it would be a good idea to dress her daughter up as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman BEFORE her makeover.
Despite the shock factor, the show also offers personalities worth returning for. One little girl named Eden Wood comes to mind. She is poised, pretty, talented and always wins. She seems to always be the biggest threat to other girls she competes against.
Another contestant who has been featured on several episodes is Makenzie. I love this little girl so much. She is your typical brat, but I think it’s because she’s too smart for her age. She is loud, rude and hilarious. On pageant day you can guarantee she will throw a fit or cry. But there is something about her that gives her that “spark.”
This is Makenzie a little younger than she is now, but you can definitely see her spunk early on.
These child pageants are no doubt a phenomenon. Our society still believes beauty is what reigns, even off the stage. Toddlers and Tiaras does a great job of capturing the chaos of these pageants and what lengths some parents will go to in order to make their child a winner.
There are a few parents who may push their kids too far and need to calm down. But in the end, what little girl doesn’t love playing dress up? Like Makenzie said, “I need to be in pageants because you get to dress in fancy clothes.”
Tune in to the show on TLC. I guarantee you will be hooked after one episode!
Jordan Armstrong is a web content producer at KVUE. She holds a degree in Radio, Television and Film from the University of North Texas. Her addiction to television started when she was five years old and wouldn’t stop watching Fraggle Rock. Jordan’s opinions are not a reflection of the views of KVUE.com, KVUE TV, or its parent company Belo Corp. We actually don’t know why we’re letting her have a column.