Toddlers & Tiaras – The Sexualisation of Children

I discovered today that I had had a couple of “likes” from bloggers promoting variously “chubby lovers” and making frivolous comments about rape,  and “forced sex with a black man”,  masquerading as a cooking blog as well as one other which talked about voodoo and having an abortion .   I am not interested in your lives and am not going to spend many hours of my life salivating over your descriptions or photos or contributing to your readers.

Obviously if I was really interested in these themes I would be concentrating on them in my blog or reblogging them.  If the reblogged  post on the Russian band “Pussy Riot” has led to a mistaken belief that I am interested in porn, please note that I am not.  I was merely supporting the freedom of speech.  I have now removed it as I don’t like the kind of people it has been attracting.

I am not anti-porn as such, although I find much of it quite alienating these days, and I think it puts too much pressure on young girls these days to be able to perform like porn stars if they want to have boyfriends.  The whole “sexting” thing is an example, and lots of young girls have found out to their horror that the intimate or sexually explicit pictures sent to their boyfriends have been downloaded and posted on sites like Facebook  for all to see.  We are already encouraging young girls to dress like hookers “hey ho, wat up?” and younger and younger girls are being encouraged to wear padded bras, bikinis and heels.    There is a growing movement in Australia to publicly shame shops which sell clothes that deliberately sexualise young pre-teens.   There is a difference between looking cute and looking like a younger version of Katy Perry or Madonna.

I’m not a great fan of the Toddlers and Tiaras phenomenon either.  I admit I have watched numerous episodes on TV in a state of fascinated disbelief mixed with horror.  Seeing 3 and 4 year olds prancing around with lipstick, false eyelashes, fake tans and “bouffy” hair (and hair extensions) is bad enough, but seeing all the sugar hits given in order to keep them alert is truly horrifying.  I can understand why some people call it “kiddy crack”.  I wonder how many of them will become addicted to sugar and maybe something stronger to keep awake when they are older.  Do we really need to encourage little girls to smile fakely through their fake teeth and compete with others of their age to see who is the most beautiful?   They’re not dogs in a dog show.  I’d rather see them running around and playing and getting dirty with other kids their age without all this emphasis on fake beauty.

The latest TV phenomenon “Here comes Honey Boo Boo” features a 6 year old pageant queen and has already garnered 2 million viewers.  Viewers seem to feel a mixture of fascination and horror judging by some of the comments already made.  I haven’t seen it, so can’t make a comment, but I can imagine that it is just an extension of  “Toddlers and Tiaras” except it concentrates on one family.  It will probably spark a whole new subset of girls who will want to join beauty pageants and emulate the behaviour encouraged, e.g.  “I am the centre of the Universe, I am the most beautiful one, I am loved above all others for my appearance”.    What will happen if they don’t win and so disappoint their desperate mothers or feel ugly?    When they are teens and get pimples and put on weight will they feel worse than their friends?  Will they be able to cope with disappointment later on?

When my daughter was younger she did ballet and jazz ballet because she wanted to.  She loved dressing up in tutus and yes, they did put stage make-up on the older girls and there was an emphasis on weight control which leads many ballerinas to become border-line anorexic.  However the focus was mainly on the dancing, not the appearance.  Many of the children in beauty pageants are extremely talented in the own right as seen in the talent segments, but the pressure put on them by their parents to perform and to achieve a certain look is sometimes quite distressing to watch.  Often it seems to be more about the parents’ hopes and dreams than the wishes of the child.

What do you think?

English: Pageant Picture
English: Pageant Picture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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