Commentary: ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ a shameful symbol of times

By on February 11, 2010

Spray-tanned girls with fake eyelashes and glamorous gowns impatiently wait to hear their name called to see if they’ve won that prestigious title. You may think I’m talking about the Miss America Pageant that took place this past weekend, but no, these contestants are quite different. They’re 4 years old.

Every Wednesday on TLC,  “Toddlers & Tiaras” airs at 10 p.m. It’s a reality show of little girls between the ages of 3 to 6 who compete in beauty pageants, particularly in the South. The preparation for these pageants requires endless hours of practicing routines, hired professionals, and most importantly, the cooperation of the contestants, the 4-year-olds who just want to play.

Unfortunately, these little girls are treated as if they are indeed Miss America pageant contestants. With essentially the depravation of their youth at stake, these girls are practicing their entrances, dance routines and pageant etiquette. The thing that makes this situation even more unfortunate is that with every practice, spray-tan and ounce of makeup their pushy mothers lay on, they become more and more superficial. “I like looking at myself,” one girl says after her makeup is layered on, completely transforming her innocent 4-year-old face into a mature pageant queen in a matter of minutes.

Watching this show, I can’t help but wonder if this applies to real life. Do little girls obsess over the way they look as early as age 4? Is it even considered humane to spray-tan little girls? If girls this young are obsessed with their image, it can only get worse from here.

I know that this show is documenting a specific type of people and that not every 4-year-old subjects themselves to the blatant judgment of others, but to bring this instance to a bigger picture, is life a beauty pageant? Is fake the new beautiful?

Every day we’re subjected to advertisements of new beauty products that will cover flaws and hide imperfections. It’s as if the media is telling every woman that they’re ugly and needs their product. I understand and am fully aware of media and persuasion tactics, but if these so-called tactics are reaching out to 4-year-olds and young girls in general, then it’s clearly out of control.

It’s most definitely a shame that our society judges so much on appearance and essentially teaches our youth that appearance is everything. Whether it’s the Miss America Pageant or just a normal day at school, it has become a necessity to look good.

What is even more of a shame is that these children will grow up thinking that they have to be “beautiful,” or at least what they’re taught beautiful is. We have a whole generation of image-obsessed girls on the rise and this will only make our society, and even our world, more superficial than it already is.

True beauty comes from within, and as cliché as that sounds, it’s most definitely true.  Considering that the fake tans and pounds of makeup that girls put on, their true beauty will be always hidden or at least hard to reveal. Clearly, they are under the false impression that fake is indeed the new beautiful.

Time and time again I know we’ve heard this, but being yourself is the best way to be. There is no amount of makeup or expensive clothes that compares to the beauty of true personality, a lesson that should be learned by all, particularly ages 4 and up, please.


About Christine Burroni

Arts & Life Editor
Twitter: @ChristineBurr
Hometown: Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
Year: 2013
Major: Print journalism
Hometown: Writer for a high end magazine


  1. yawn

    February 11, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Oh please. Spare us. Little Miss Perfect is no different than shows like Hannah Montana or iCarly where the girls on it are skinny, beautiful and trendy. Wanting to look cute, wanting to fit in and be like everybody else is just a part of growing up.

    As far as the make up and “fakeness” well, I have seen plenty of midget football cheerleaders who have the curls, the lipstick, mascara etc. I have seen dance recitals in which the 4 year old class have super slutty outfits on and are dancing to freaking Fergie. How are pageants any different than this stuff that goes on every day and is “acceptable?”

    It is great to teach girls that their personality is more important than their looks. It is also great to teach girls to be open-minded and not to naively believe everything they see on reality TV. It is good to teach our daughters to be non-judgmental, not to get up on a soapbox with a holier-than-thou attitude.

    Some girls like to look pretty and there is nothing wrong with that. For many girls, the “glitz” stays at the pageant. It is like playing dress-up. I used to dress up in my mother’s make-up and clothes. For many girls that is what pageants are about. Of course some moms push their kids into pageants. And athletics, and dance, and a lot of things. It is wrong. But not all people are like that, and not all pageant families are like the ones showcased on TV.

    • gigi

      February 11, 2010 at 5:16 pm

      I have to agreee with you. While there is fakeness in the pagent, we are all fake everytime we dye our hair, get hair extensions, put on make up etc. And, like you, some of the girls who cheer have more make up on and show more skin than the pagent girls.

      And sorry, true beauty may come from within, but nobody I know leaves that house looking like crap or wants to be a sloth for their boyfriend or husband.

  2. yawn

    February 11, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    well said, gigi!!!!!! awesome!

  3. bigbird13041

    June 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    3-6 year olds are toddlers????? Last I knew, toddlers were children who have recently learned to walk and toddle around. I think that most 3-6 year olds are well beyond that stage. Who’s the moron that came up with that name for the show? Also, if it’s a show just for girls, isn’t that discrimination?

  4. Sarah

    June 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    i think it is a pretty odd and bazaar industry clearly the parents are living through their kids.
    they really dress them up too look terrible…
    dont get it- only in america!