Toddlers and Tiaras

I was watching the show earlier… is this not child abuse? 4-5 year olds putting on make up, skirts, parading around, being told by their moms to flirt with the judges, being sexy? And besides that, the girls were being taught from a young age that all that matters is looks and being ‘sexy’.

Are you kidding me? I watched it for 20 minutes and couldn’t take any more.

How can anyone put their child through that? If you aren’t religious I mean… when there are so many sexual predators out there you’d think its a no brainer!

I have seen that show before and its TERRIBLE!! When I was 5, I was into stuffed animals and hide and seek!!! Those kids are going to look back and (hopefully) realize that they did not have a healthy childhood. its wrong and sick…

I don’t get it either. I am curious if someone that actually participates in these kind of events will ever be able to explain the attraction to me about entering your child in beauty contests. The money they spend is outrageous.

Absolutely disgusting and pitifully sad.

Jon-Benet Ramsay, anyone?

You’d think that tragedy would have put an end to this kind of travesty…:shrug:

Child pageantry is like any other child sport, art, or club activity–as long as the parents keep life balanced, avoid the blatant sexuality, and emphasize fun and friendship, it’s fine. It is when things get out of balance that harm can be done to a child and the family.

The attractions in pageantry include:

  1. Fun! Most little girls enjoy playing dress up and wearing makeup and pretending to be like Mommy or an older sister. It’s fun to walk around, talk to judges, and in some pageants, perform various musical or other acts. It’s FUN, honest.

  2. Friends. Pageanty, like any other children’s activity, offers the opportunity for a child and the parents to be part of a community of friendly, like-minded people.

  3. Pageanty teaches little girls poise, interview skills, good posture, charm, and other useful accomplishments. The pageants that include a talent portion require a child to develop a talent such as playing an instrument, singing, dancing, twirling, etc., and that’s a good thing.

  4. Fitness. Most pageanty emphasizes health and fitness, even at young ages. I realize that when little girls are “chubby,” their chances of winning such pageants is decreased, and some people are offended by that and consider it an over-emphasis on body-type. But IMO, this emphasis on fitness is a good thing–we have way too many “chubby” children in the U.S. right now, and if pageantry motivates parents to maintain a healthy lifestyle (diet and active playtime) for their families, that’s a good thing!

  5. Celebrity–pageants winners are often invited to participate in parades, communities events, and charitable outreaches–this is really rewarding for even young children–to help out.

  6. SCHOLARSHIPS! Yes, pageantry at young ages often leads to pageantry at older ages, and many of these pageants offer substantial college scholarships. IMO, if a child has the physical traits that make them a good candidate for winning pageants and scholarship monies, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a parent getting involved with this activity (again, as long as it is kept balanced and fun for the child). Indeed, I would say that it is a WISE parent who takes advantage of a God-given gift (physical beauty and social charm) to earn college monies for their children.

My younger daughter is very beautiful. She did beauty pageants during her teenaged years–just local pageants. The best she placed was 1st runner up. The people in charge of these pageants were delightful. She made friends that she still keeps up with, learned lots of good interview skills, and had tons of fun. The big trophy and bouquet of flowers were great, too. And more than anything, she loved being part of various charitable activities.

She met other young girls who were part of children’s pageants, and never had a problem with these girls. They were friendly and well-balanced children.

Both of my daughters were heavily involved with figure skating (and still are). This sport involves dressing up and wearing makeup even at young ages. It was great fun.

This is horribly unfair and inflammatory. Children’s pageantry, like any children’s activity, can have harmful effects when parents do not keep things balanced and fun. But to link children’s pageantry with sexual and violent crimes is grossly unfair.

Many children get involved with pageantry. It is especially popular in the South and has been for years. Most of them do not get raped and/or murdered.

I’m not sure that it was proven that there is a direct link between Jon-Benet Ramsay’s pageantry and her murder. I’m not even sure if the crime has ever been solved.

The same is true of any children’s activity. E.g., there are sick children in gymnastics that starve themselves and take drugs, but many children do the sport and thrive. Same for figure skating. Just because one little girl grew up warped and did bodily harm to another figure skater doesn’t mean that all little girls who figure skate will grow up warped.

Sorry Cat, but any of the “posititves” you have listed, can be found in other activities that do not put the focus on the outside appearance of a little girl, or even grown woman. I think beauty pageants of any nature

Sorry Cat, none of what you listed as “positives” negates the fact for me that its an activity that is based solely on outside appearances and objectifies a little girl. Any of the positives you listed, can be found in another activity for a child that focuses more on the whole child. You can not equate an activity such as figure skating to these type of beauty pageants because it didn’t matter how pretty you looked, you still had to skate the event and well to win. I know, I was in competitive skating when I was younger. These pageants are sending many, many bad messages to little girls, and their families. Including that its ok if ADULT strangers base a contest on a little girls appearance in “sexy” outfits. What kind of mixed message is it sending a child that its ok to “dress up” like an adult and look sexy but at the same time teach them about “stranger danger” or even a healthy respect for their own bodies and modesty??

You asked for an explanation of the attraction of entering children in beauty pageants. I gave you an explanation with some specific reasons why parents get their children involved in pageantry.

Yes, of course these same reasons apply to many other children’s activities. I mentioned that in my post.

But there are parents and their children who find pageantry more appealing than other activities. If you don’t, that’s your choice.

I disagree that children’s pageants are based solely on outside appearances. Some of the pageants are like this, but most pageants require a child to be well-rounded and able to speak up and be charming and personable. Also, many of the pageants require a talent, which at age 4 or 5, is often just singing a cute song and doing a cute dance and I personally think the numbers are rather lame. But a child has to start somewhere, and as they get older, the singing and dancing gets more advanced and enjoyable for the audience.

I think it’s up to parents to investigate various pageants and make wise decisions about which pageants are a good fit for their children and their family values, as well as their budget.

Sometimes the pageants that cost a lot have a big payoff if you win. I personally wouldn’t want to gamble my money away like this, but others don’t mind.

I also disagree with you about figure skating, and we’ve been involved with the sport since the mid 1980s. Yes, you’re right that a pretty girl will not win if she can’t skate. But a girl who does not fit the “image” of figure skating will often not win even if she can skate, unless she is a phenomenal figure skater. Figure skating is all about an “image,” and like it or not, the judges will usually exclude skaters who are chubby or who are too tall from the winners’ circle. Looks do matter in this sport.

I think it’s child abuse. It’s sexualizing very young children. I mean, these kids wear more make up than I do, and I’m 25!!

I don’t understand why you equate “makeup” with “sexuality.”

Yes, of course there are times when women will wear a certain kind/style of makeup for the purpose of being sexy (in my case, around my husband).

But most women wear makeup to hide our flaws (in my case, rosacea skin that is red and raw), and emphasize our strengths (in my case, good cheekbones). In the United States, it is generally expected that professional women (those who work outside the home) will wear a certain amount of makeup so that they will look “finished.” It is NOT appropriate for professional women to look “sexy” on the job.

I can remember when my brother and I were little children-we both loved to play with my mother’s old makeup. It had nothing to do with being “sexualized.” To us, it was “dressing up,” and no different than putting on a Halloween costume. I think that’s what this is like for the majority of little girls (and boys) involved in child pageantry.

Like I’ve been saying all along, some parents allow the pageantry life to become unbalanced, but that’s a parenting problem, not a pageantry problem. I know parents who allow CHURCH and the Christian life to become unbalanced–does that mean that the Church is child abuse? Of course not.

I think from what I highlighted I am sure you can see the flaw in your reasoning. Teaching a toddler that she should hide her flaws and emphasize her strengths? For whom? For what purpose? What does it teach? I don’t live under a rock, and I know that we wear certain things, do certain things in order to appear a certain way. But teaching that to a 5 year old? Teaching her that her skin is perhaps, a little too pale, and that her cheekbones need to be emphasized? Really?

Furthermore I don’t believe the make up argument is really a good one. To say that a women is finished without make up is really bizarre. I’m not a women, no, but I understand the make up thing. But to say that it completes your look is just bizarre, leave that kind of thinking to adulthood rather than 6 year olds.

I can remember when my brother and I were little children-we both loved to play with my mother’s old makeup. It had nothing to do with being “sexualized.” To us, it was “dressing up,” and no different than putting on a Halloween costume. I think that’s what this is like for the majority of little girls (and boys) involved in child pageantry.

It has everything to do with being sexualized.

Otherwise, one would just dress their child in their favourite clothes, put on no make-up, act natural instead of being told to ‘flirt’ with the judges and ‘act sexy’ and walk on stage saying “who is the cutest child”. Instead, we have the opposite, and it looks like, to me, training ground for future ‘pageants’ which are just opportunities for girls to show off and men to stare.

Like I’ve been saying all along, some parents allow the pageantry life to become unbalanced, but that’s a parenting problem, not a pageantry problem. I know parents who allow CHURCH and the Christian life to become unbalanced–does that mean that the Church is child abuse? Of course not.

IMO, a parenting problem is the pageantry itself.

And I don’t know what you mean about the Church and Christian life. One can never have too much God, can they?

A grown woman wearing make up and a toddler wearing make up is a huge difference. These parents putting globs of make up on a child IS sexualizing that child. Their trying to make them look a lot older. Most woman don’t wear that much make up on the fanciest dates! If they did they’d look like a porn star.

I have a huge problem with the sexuality aspect of these pageants, as well. There’s also something that I don’t think is being covered as much, though, and that’s the idea of being judged - which, of course, is linked intimately with the oversexualization in its own way.

The whole thing is just sickening. Let’s take one example from the pro-pageant perspective and examine how truly foul it can get: let’s say we have a fitness problem in this country. The idea that we can somehow convince girls who are above a medically ideal weight to adopt healthier habits by forcing them into a contest where they will be judged to be losers at a parade of sexy is beyond inappropriate. That has nothing to do with fostering good eating and exercise habits or respect for the gift of a body. Nothing. That is what health is, and where health comes from.

These are precious girls, with God their rightfully jealous Father over them. He is also their only judge. Every woman is just as beautiful and charming as the next in His eyes, every one of them His daughter, and should be treated as such. To teach girls that some are more charismatic and beautiful than others, to ask them to parade around and beseech a panel of people who rank human flesh like cattle salesmen - these are not right, not right at all.

You know how it is when men sit in bars and say as the women go by “She’s a 7 - fat, but her face is nice” or “Gross, she’s a 4, acne!” or “Whoa! A 10! Nice legs!” Doesn’t it make you upset? It does to me. Nobody should tolerate that kind of blatant disrespect for the whole and organic beauty of all womanhood, and that fact that we do it to our gorgeous girls in this country makes me just want to cry.

Good post! I mean, I totally agree. I find it hard to swallow just normal ‘beauty contests’ (aka judge women) and now 6 year olds! There is just something unbelievably wrong.

The practice is wrong, wrong, wrong. And wrong.
There is NOTHING that makes “child pagentry” acceptable.
The children are definetly sexualized in every meaning of the word, as well as taught from 3 years old on up that he/she is better than other children in looks,clothing, etc.
Jump ahead 10 years to the teens.
Think about it.

This isn’t true of all pageants.

Many pageants for children emphasize charm, friendliness, volunteerism (yes, even little ones can help out in their communities), and other virtues over good looks.

Several of the posters on this thread are basing their opinions about child pageantry on one youtube link, and that’s just not fair.

Whenever children participate in competition of any type, including arts and sports competitions, SOMEONE will win while the others do not win. This is not "wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s the way competition works. Most children can deal with this, although it always hurts a little to not win, and it always feels really good to win.

But just because someone wins a competition does not mean that they are “better” than other children. It means that at the time of the competition, they did the best at whatever the event happened to be. Good parents will teach their children this truth.

And the children that I know who are involved in pageantry are among the friendliest children and they do NOT think more highly of themselves than they do of others. Many children and teenagers enter pageants with the goal of winning so that they will have the opportunity, through their celebrity, to HELP others in various charitable organizations.

As the OP referred specifically to “Toddlers and Tiaras”, I’ll confine my comments to that awful show.

It strains credulity to try to come up with anything that is remotely wholesome or positive about dressing up little girls (and we are talking about 2, 3, 4 year olds!) as tiny floozies with over-the-top 80s “Dynasty” hair, false eyelashes, full make-up and “sexy” outfits, and teaching them to wiggle their hips. Don’t give me any of this “friendliness” and “community service” baloney. The sad, sorry parents are trying to live vicariously through their children (who, when they are that little, have NO say in this) What sort of healthy, normal adult male would be involved in judging this sort of thing, or want his daughter involved?

This is all WAY off the creep-o-meter.

OK, I’ll agree with you that the OP’s link is very bad.

But it’s simply NOT FAIR to judge ALL children’s pageants and condemn them because of that ONE bad example.

Do you think it’s fair to say that all priests are perverts because a few have given in to their baser natures and committed grievous acts against children? Of course you don’t think that’s fair, and you resent it when secular media makes that kind of sweeping statement.

That’s why I keep coming back to this thread. I want the good pageants to be fairly represented here. I want fairness. And I hate to see all parents who get their children involved in pageantry condemned as creeps. That’s not fair either.

I will repeat for those who are following this thread: for the three years that our family was involved with teen pageantry, we had so much fun, and never saw anything objectionable. Rather, our daughter learned a lot, had lots of innocent girlish fun, enjoyed the competitive aspects of the pageants, made friends with some wholesome girls and their families, had the opportunity to be involved with several excellent community events and charities, and won a few ribbons and giant gaudy trophies. I’m sure that others have been involved in bad pageants and I feel badly for them, but our experiences were totally positive and I would recommend pageantry as an option for families who are interested in that sort of competition. We are not creeps or bad parents, and we did not do pageantry to live vicariously through our daughter.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit