Maybe everyone has heard by now–a mother on “Toddlers and Tiaras” dressed her kid up as Julia Roberts character from Pretty Woman. The beginning of Pretty Woman. You know, when the character was working as a prostitute. And Richard Gere picked her up and took her to the Beverly Wilshire hotel and hired her to be his, um, friend for a week. Yeah, some mom dressed her kid like THAT character (see the picture above) for the ‘Celebrities’ portion of a beauty contest. Did I mention the kid is only four years old?
So, here’s the problem: the mom thought the whole thing was innocent and just for fun because Julia Roberts is her favorite celebrity, but other people–including parenting groups–are saying that this outfit is in poor taste and just downright WRONG for a child to be wearing. Do I agree? Well, yeah. No child should be wearing an outfit like that when they’re that young–not even for Halloween. In a world full of child molesters and just yucky people, why put your child on display like that?
Let me be clear–it’s not that the outfit is revealing. The mother said she even made the skirt longer than the one Julia Roberts wore. The mom is totally missing the point of the controversy. The whole problem is that the outfit portrays something very specific, something no child should know anything about. The child’s mother would probably argue that the child is too young to understand what the outfit means anyway, but someday she’ll know. Someday she’ll be looking at pictures or see her name online (most likely because of this controversy) and say, “Wait. So…you dressed me as a prostitute?”
But I don’t just blame the mom. These beauty pageants are horrific because they seem to spawn overzealous mothers, who try very hard to change their daughter into the perfect little doll, complete with flippers (re: fake teeth), manicured nails and spray tans. And some of these girls are only babies when they first start. But that doesn’t stop the moms from insisting this is something the kids want to do. Really? You sure you aren’t just overcompensating for not getting enough love when you were a child or not making the cheerleading squad in high school or something like that? I’m sorry, but I have a hard time believing that the child WANTS her mom to scream at her for not getting the crown.
Most kids just want love, affection and acceptance from their parents. What a lot of these moms teach their children (through their actions) is that if the child doesn’t win the highest crown, she will be letting Mommy down. That puts way, way, way too much pressure on a child, whose only concern should be what cartoon to watch on TV.
I’ll be honest–I used to watch “Toddlers and Tiaras” because it was like watching a train wreck. It was commonplace for me to feel shocked at some of the things the parents–or even the kids–said or did, but I still watched every once in a while because I couldn’t believe people could be so stupid. And yet I kept coming back for more because I was fascinated. Now that I have Zoey, it just makes me sad that these kids are pushed into dressing up in uncomfortable outfits and taking ‘glamour’ shots that make them look like adults just to make their parents happy. Children should NEVER be judged based on their beauty. ALL children are beautiful. Objectifying them like that takes away their childhood. It’s not right.
Do I think all pageant contestants and parents are like this? No. I’m sure there are plenty that really are doing it just for fun. Those families aren’t the ones I’m referring to here.
But let’s get back to that picture above. The mom in question said that she has seen worse outfits during the swimsuit portion of competitions. Although I agree with her and am vehemently against a swimsuit competition for little girls (because ew), she needs to understand that deflecting attention from the outfit she put her kid in doesn’t suddenly make the outfit okay. She dressed her kid as a prostitute. It’s as simple as that.
The child wore the outfit and walked back and forth in front of a cardboard backdrop that was supposed to represent the front of the Beverly Wilshire hotel. Granted, she was just walking in front of the ‘hotel’, but she was in that outfit, which made it look a lot like she was, yeah, hooking.
Now, to be fair, the mom said that what ‘Toddlers’ didn’t show was the end of the routine when the little girl comes out from the back of the hotel in a different costume–the dress that Julia Roberts character wore when she and Richard Gere’s character went to the hours raise. The mom said that maybe if people had seen the whole routine, they would have been more accepting of the first outfit. Um, no. It doesn’t matter if she was dressed up as an Eskimo at the end of the routine. She was dressed up in an outfit that clearly represents (because of the movie) being a prostitute. And no matter what excuses the mom gives, the point doesn’t change–it was a very, very bad choice and unfortunately, the little girl has to live with the consequences.
Way to go, mom. Total parenting fail.
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