All Women's Talk

Toddlers and Tiaras Goes a Bit Too Far

By Lyndsie

Toddlers and Tiaras is one of those shows that you either can't help watching, avoid like the plague, or watch only so you can marvel at the things that happen when toddlers fight for towering tiaras. Beauty pageants, especially child beauty pageants, are controversial enough. Those who think they're fine and those who think they're wrong fight worse than cats and dogs. Sometimes, however, something happens in the pageant circuit – or on a show depicting the pageant circuit – that leaves you so flabbergasted, you don't even know how to start airing your opinion. Welcome to the August 31 episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, which has caused a clustermug that is still gathering steam.

This is little Maddy Jackson. She's four years old. Those are Maddy's fake breasts – and her fake booty. Do you need a second? Don't worry, I did too.

Although TLC is “The Learning Channel,” lots of shows point to the contrary. Toddlers and Tiaras might have started out trying to give outsiders an insider's view into the pageant world – until they started running into the little divas who have a well-developed sense of entitlement at age three, or the mothers who push their children into pageants, play favorites, and say awful things about competitors – you know, other 3-5 year olds. Now, a “good show” constitutes an episode where you see the most spoiled children, the stagiest of stage mothers, the biggest, Pixie-stick driven meltdowns … and fake body parts, of course.

TLC seemed to know that viewers were going to be livid about this episode, because they actually pulled out the Facebook page belonging to Toddlers and Tiaras, while Lindsay, Maddy's mom, sought support from her friends on her Facebook – and got it, evidently. Few seemed to think there was anything wrong with dressing her child up like Dolly Parton. Viewers were so upset, however, that many of them didn't even seem to mind that one of Maddy's competitors dressed up as Vivian Ward. You know, Julia Roberts. You know, from Pretty Woman. You know, the movie where she was a prostitute with a heart of gold!

A lot of people are likening these costumes to Halloween costumes, and wondering why it's okay to dress up saucily on Halloween, but not as acceptable to parade around with fake body parts on stage … when it's being televised. Well, I think it's probably because nobody goes trick-or-treating in front of an audience – and for the record, I think a lot of people would still be taken aback if they opened their doors to a four year old wearing C-cup falsies.

Having grown up in the South, the mecca of baby beauty pageants, I'm used to this sparkly, made up world. Still, I think there's a line – there's always a line, and TLC is getting better and better at discovering the people who cross it in high heels and spangles.

But I'd like to know what y'all think. Do you think Maddy's mom went a little too far, or does her defense position – that the outfit is fun, the judges always like it, and it helps Maddy win pageants – is acceptable?

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