Guest Author - Sandra Eggers
Generation after generation, little girls play dress-up, wearing Momís too-big high-heel shoes and putting on pretend makeup. Itís a fun fantasy world where anyone can become a beautiful fairy princess and host a tea party with imaginary friends.
Fashion starts at a young age. Itís fun to pretend. One day that little girl is going to grow up and take her fashion adventure to another level when the time comes for the ultimate dress-up party, her wedding. Itís the one day that every little girl dreams of being the most beautiful picture-perfect bride.
There is another side of dress-up. Beauty pageants. Itís what some little girls dream of doing when they grow up into young women. But when those women become Momís to their own little girl, some of them continue to want to play dress-up, and what better target than their daughter. And age doesnít matter.
Beauty pageants are traditionally about poise, talent and beauty. With the beauty comes hair, makeup, gowns, swim suits, etc. Now imagine your 2-year-old participating. Yes itís true. There are toddler beauty pageants where Mom can play dress-up with her little one and actually ďwinĒ a prize. Problem is this has become a serious business and while it may be fun for Mom, in some bizarre way, probably the little girl would rather be hosting a pretend tea party at home in her room.
The TLC reality show Toddlers and Tiaras documents these baby beauty pageants, complete with fake hair, false eyelashes and spray-on tans. They even have fake white smiles. All this for a 2-year-old. Really. And we wonder why teenagers and young people are so obsessed with their looks.
Proponents of the child beauty pageants assure you that it is a wonderful bonding time for the entire family and the young girls are building self-esteem that they can draw on to be more successful later in life. That may be true in a very small number of cases, but more often than not, the girls are too young to even understand whatís going on. Itís probably most beneficial to the Mom who claims bragging rights when her young daughter wins.
Most educators and health professionals are in unanimous agreement that toddlers and little girls competing in any beauty pageant at such a young age can lead to serious developmental and self-esteem issues later in life. Parents agree too.
So whatís the fascination with Toddlers and Tiaras? Itís been renewed for yet another season. Do we really find it entertaining to tune in and watch exploited children? Most donít think of it in that way because itís so easy to forget these are just kids. Weíre all guilty of watching from a purely innocent perspective. You might laugh at the ill-timed temper tantrum, but really itís just a child trying to be normal.