The Psychology of Toddlers and Tiaras


Sitting in my dorm room with my roommate, I struggled with a topic to blog about. But then I looked to what she was watching on TV: Toddlers and Tiaras. My mom and I used to always watch it when I lived at home and we would laugh while also expressing our disgust at the behavior of these parents. This show has been in the news recently over a law suit in which a parent is trying to get custody under the argument that child pageants are child abuse. Personally, I agree with this stance. These parents claim that their kids love pageants before they can even talk or walk. For many of them, it's clear that these parents put their kids through pageants to live vicariously through them and in my opinion, that is the definition of bad parenting. It's one thing if a preteen wants to participate in a beauty pageant, but for a small child to be forced into this starting as a toddler strikes me as child abuse. Pageants teach young girls that they are only beautiful if their faces are caked in makeup and they are wearing a wig. It seems to me that nothing would kill confidence more, despite parents saying that performing in these pageants is a confidence booster. According to the Psychology Center, 

"the psychological consequences of placing a child in an adult world are vast. Learning to cope with competition is a skill that develops over time. A three-year-old child does not have the psychological capacity to grasp the concept of competition."

I'm curious as to what other people think about putting young girls in beauty pageants. I'm hoping somebody can offer a counterargument because I really can't grasp why a parent would do this to his or her kid. I got my idea for this blog post from this article:


Abigail, I'm so glad you brought this up! I think the TV show is disgusting, personally. I think parents pimp their kids out for exposure, and the kids are too young to know it. While the parents get the benefit of fame, exposure, and, most importantly, money, money, and more money, the kids really don't have any clue what is going on, but they know they need to do their act and look cute. When I watch those kids perform, they have a smile slapped on their face that doesn't move at all. It just goes to show that they are not really passionate about what they're doing. I have a friend who is heavily involved in pageants, but she didn't start when she was a young kid. In fact, I doubt that once these kids really start developing, they will want to flee from the pageant scene, and fast. I'm totally with you on this one!

I can't agree with you more. You have to wonder the effect that being involved in such pageants will have on these girls once they reach there teen years. I found an article that claims that pageants can have devastating consequences for young girls. Many former pageant stars end up having serious problems with their health. Being constantly exposed to make-up and exercise leads many of these young girls to feel the need to be physically perfect. This drive for perfection can result in serious health problems such as eating disorders. The parents putting their young daughters into pageants might as well sign their children up for a lifetime of health problems.

I agree with you as well. I tend to watch this show with my mom and she even has a friend who puts her daughter in these. And thinking back to the negative effects it seems to have on these girls, one of the things both my mom and I had noticed was that some of the girls seem to have speech "problems" even as they neared the age of ten. By problems I mean that they could not speak clearly and had captions when they did. Many of them spoke as if, in my opinion, trying to use acute little kid voice.
We thought that it could just be a personal thing, but I was noticing it in a high amount of those kids on Toddlers and Tiaras.

As addicting as Toddlers and Tiaras is, I can totally agree with this blog post. TLC portrays these crazy pageant mothers in such a way that I wonder how the parents even get away with parading their kids around in such risqué, expensive outfits. I definitely would relate the parent's problem with them having suppressed childhood dreams. I believe that these mothers and sometimes even fathers are wishing to live out vicariously through their children. This is scary to watch because it seems as if they are forcing their kids into roles that don't even suit their age group. I was a competitive cheerleader and I sometimes saw mothers who forced their children into this sport as well, although that can seem as a team building type of an environment. Is it still wrong to force your kid to do something just because it fulfills your wants and needs?

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