The first in a series of three, called Toddlers & Tiaras.
In this first question, and here the question references the two videos from Anderson’s hit reality show “Toddlers and Tiaras,” Do you believe that “Toddlers and Tiaras” is adding to the sexualization of children? As the first video notes in the short discussion with Moms, some say there is nothing wrong with this kind of thing, as it is harmless and just fun. In the second video, the viewer sees audience reaction. Obviously, the audience members enjoy the display and actions of the children. Will you comment?
Shari Karney: Showing children in scantily clad, “Pretty Woman Prostitute Outfits,” “Lady Gaga Outfits with attempt to show 3-year-old Child Cleavage,” turns children into adult sex objects. These children are being judged at 3 and 4 and 5 years old, based on their sexuality, beauty, sexiness and then we all are astonished when there is so much sexual abuse of young children. The other part of this that is so disturbing is that we value girls based on their sexiness, beauty, make-up, spiked heels, clothes, spray tans, and we don’t value them or show them as valued girls that are based on genuine qualities such as intelligence, compassion, athletic ability, science talent, artistic sense. We are saying if you are a girl, you are only of interest to us—famous, given a lot of attention—if you are sexy. Remember these kids are 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Many find this “Toddlers and Tiaras” reality show a case of children and values—gone wrong. What are we asking of our little children? What’s valuable to us? We’re teaching makeover and boobs? Is this display of children a form of exploitation, and in terms of values held by a parent, what are we told about the values they hold?
Shari Karney: I’ll give you an example, one of these little girls in “Toddlers and Tiaras” is on a no-more-than sixteen hundred calories a day diet and has lost ten pounds over the summer. She is six years old. Furthermore they are giving these children energy drinks, it consists of caffeine and sugar. On Anderson Cooper, they showed one of the kids drinking the juice, and then Anderson Cooper took a few swigs and said himself, it was the sugariest drink. It was so much so that his hands were shaking. The drink is called, “GoGo Juice.” It’s made of one part Mountain Dew and one part Red Bull. It’s bad because, children have natural energy. But these children not only dress as sexual adults, but they are drinking adult energy drinks to be more energetic, provocative, sexy- cute. Why aren’t the drinks to increase their intelligence, or something healthy to help them grow up and be strong. We are making these children into caffeinated-sugar-high-wound-up Barbie Dolls. Pull the string and you get a performing doll. What message does this give to the little girl in Indiana, or Ohio, or anywhere?
Pageant Moms Makeover Experiment
On Friday’s episode, Anderson turns the tables on the moms from TLC’s hit reality show “Toddlers and Tiaras” — by giving each a makeover in a replica of their daughters’ own dresses, makeup and hair. They learn first-hand what it feels like to be decked out in the ultimate pageant gear… everything from eyelashes to Mary Janes. On the show, Anderson is joined by veteran pageant girls, as well as the show’s newest addition, viral sensation Alana “Honey Boo Boo Child” and their mothers. They discuss the latest controversies from the current season, including hyper-caffeinated drinks and one mother’s decision to have her 8-year-old daughter count calories.
Anderson explores the world of child beauty pageants and examines the impact of pageants on children.
“Toddlers & Tiaras” star Eden Wood’s mom, Mickie, defends the longtime tradition of beauty pageants and specifically asserts that her child dancing has absolutely nothing to do with sex.
Six-year-old “Toddlers & Tiaras” star Eden Wood started in pageants before she could walk, and has won almost 300 titles. Her mom, Mickie, a drama school teacher, says “pageants never crossed my mind. I had noticed early on that she had a lot of rhythm and stuff. And we have a performance-based family.”