TLC is known for running some crazy shows – Kate Plus 8, Sister Wives, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding are just a few that come to mind. However, one show that is not just crazy, but upsetting to me is Toddlers & Tiaras. Frankly, I think mothers who dress up their daughters and shove them on stage at the unripe age of 3 years old teaches them nothing but vanity and how to objectify themselves, but that is for another post perhaps.
The reason why I am bringing the show to your attention today is based on a news story here. A mother in the show dressed her 3 year old daughter up as Julia Roberts’s character in the movie Pretty Woman. If you recall the movie, Vivian Ward is a prostitute who steals the heart of businessman Edward Lewis (Richard Gere’s character).
Yes, the “Tiara Mom” dressed her daughter up like a prostitute complete with thigh-high boots, a blonde wig, and a revealing costume similar to the one Roberts’s character wore in the movie. Picture below.
All my previous biases about 3 year-olds competing in pageants aside, modeling your daughter after a prostitute is stepping into a whole other world of objectification. It is not a ground-breaking theory in psychology to say that young children develop based on social expectations. When a mother dresses her child up like a prostitute and expects her to go out on stage and “strut,” that child learns that “strutting” is a socially acceptable behavior in addition to dressing up in that type of costume. Furthermore, the fact that the judges founds it “cute” only encourages the young girl to repeat that behavior.
Dressing a young girl up as a prostitute teaches her to objectify herself in order to gain attention, not to mention it grossly sexualizes an innocent child. I can only hope the outrage over this incident will send a message to young Paisley’s mother and show her that sexualizing her daughter is not “comical” or “the cutest thing ever.”