January 18, 2011

An Open Letter to TLC: Cancel Toddlers & Tiaras

Originally written for Pigtail Pals- Redefine Girly by Melissa Wardy. Cross-posted with permission.
Recent beauty pageant contestant. She is two years old.

Dear Producers of Toddlers & Tiaras, TLC, and Discovery Communications LLC:

It is an extremely thin veil that hides the atrocious “Toddlers & Tiaras” as a documentary-style show for your network. For the past four seasons the show has done a good job, not so much with teaching, but of giving viewers a voyeuristic peek into the children’s beauty pageant world. We don’t need to see anymore. As Season 5 reaches its midpoint, the show now continues to do little more than become complicit in the exploitation of the little girls at its center. At best, it is now a mockumentary of the visibly unbalanced mothers (and a few fathers) who force their children to spend long and uncomfortable hours participating in these expensive pageants. Many of these children are too young to say whether or not they want to participate. When these children act out and demonstrate they do not enjoy what is happening, or do not want it to happen any longer, they are still made to participate by their pageant moms. Let us be clear from the outset that after this season it is time to cancel the show.

I’m sure inside your producer heads you think this is crazy, especially as the show has received some buzz-worthy, controversial attention recently and continues to pull in advertisers and an average of 1.3 million viewers each week….but as your mission statements goes, it is the job of the Discovery channel family to satisfy curiosity. TLC has done its job with this show, as almost everyone who has been exposed to the program finds it distasteful and widely condemns the child beauty pageant circuit. Our curiosity has been satisfied – as demonstrated with the several thousands of negative and disapproving comments left in the last couple of weeks alone. We’ve seen it. We don’t like it. We’re over it.

The idea of two year old girls strutting around with cones protruding out of her bustier and five year olds who sit trembling and screaming in a chair at a salon as she is enticed into a painful beauty treatment will tend to leave a bad taste in our mouth. It leaves us less interested in the pageants themselves, but more interested in gawking at and judging the deranged mothers who subject their poor daugthers to this twisted world of judged fake beauty. That might make for good ratings, but it doesn’t make for a happy and healthy childhood of the young girls who hold the title of this show. Just like their overbearing mothers, you exploit these children. A shameful act on both parts.

The duration of this show has coincided with a large effort by a small group of dedicated experts to raise awareness to the general public about the sexualization of girls. The parents we have reached now understand the emotional, psychological, and physical harm a young girl is exposed to when she is sexualized.  As the 2007 American Psychological Association’s task force report showed us, early sexualization can lead to self-esteem issues, depression, eating disorders, and early promiscuity.

Contestant on the children’s beauty pageant circuit.

“Toddlers & Tiaras” is a petri dish of sexualization. Little girls are taught, often times forced by their domineering mothers, to act coquettishly, learn suggestive dance routines, wear sexualized costumes and bathing suits, endure hours of hair and make-up, and are even put on restrictive diets in order to lose weight for competition. This is perverse. While TLC continues to air “Toddlers & Tiaras”, the network becomes an agent of this sexualization.


August 28, 2010

Step Aside Princesses, Here Come the Bommerang Book Throwing Brontë Sisters

This kick-ass fake commercial for “Super X-treme Mega History Heroes” latest set of powerhouse action dolls brings us the Bronte sisters, Victorian authors ready to do some damage to get their books into print at a time when women were rarely, if ever, published.

The Bronte’s pretend to be men by sporting fake “super-disguise mustaches,” use their boomerang book throwing capabilities to take down the “sexist pig” publisher and use their extraordinary feminist vision to break gender barriers.

The commercial ends with “remember kids, use your brain and you could make history!”

Isn’t that a fabulous alternative to the pink think of gender socialization that focuses on the  narcissistic world of the princess?

June 5, 2010

Baby Gaga: simple role playing or kiddie porn?

Filed under: Sexuality — Tags: , , , , , — Melanie @ 10:19 pm

Yet another girl is pimped out by parents in order to create an internet frenzy. “Baby Gaga” was featured on the Huffington Post today and, to be honest, I felt like I was watching kiddie porn. The simple role playing and dress-up games I engaged in in my youth have become too serious and public for me to be comfortable with. We live in an age when younger and younger girls are sexualized and online access places them at direct risk of coming into contact with registered sex offenders.  In this context, a video like this seems incredibly irresponsible and blinded by potential hits (and a reality show, perhaps?).

For more on sexualizing young girls read my previous posts on gyrating 7 year-olds, sexy kids (toddlers and infants).

December 15, 2008

Pint-sized player

Filed under: Gender,Media,Sexuality — Tags: , , , — Melanie @ 1:06 pm

Alec Greven’s first book, a self-help book on how to talk to girls, is getting tons of attention.  In fact, it has given him enough attention and fame that he is working on his next book, has been on Ellen and Hollywood plans on turning How Talk to Girls into a major film.

He’s 9.

This is just another pathetic and inappropriate example of the fast-forward on childhood and the dollars that are reaped from it.  Not cute.