Little girls exploited on TV reality show

The famous line from <i>Donnie Darko</i> about the ridiculousness of dance teams says, “Sometimes, I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion!” We laugh at the obsessed mothers who force their daughters into competitive pageants and watch as they make a circus of it.

But with reality television shows like <i>Dance Moms</i> and <i>Toddlers & Tiaras</i>, we see that these pedo-pageants are actually reflections of our society’s sex-driven and image-centric culture. With these shows, we see the commodification of sexuality creeping itself into the fabric of childhood that prevents normalcy in childhood.

TLC’s <i>Toddlers & Tiaras</i> stirred up great controversy back in late 2011 when a little pageant girl was dressed by her mother as Dolly Parton, complete with a padded bra and derriere. Not only that, but another girl was dressed to look like the street-walker Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman with thigh-high leather boots and a tight mini skirt.

It is quite disturbing that little girls must appeal to sexuality in order to win a pageant. What’s more disturbing is that nothing has been done to prevent this.

Because these girls are so young, they have no idea what they are presenting while on stage. They have no idea that they are representing a culture that approves the objectification of sexuality.

It is wholly tragic that our culture “loves to hate” shows like <i>Toddlers & Tiaras</i>, but does not care enough to change them. Our culture is so appallingly obsessed with body images, especially with those of girls and women.

As a woman, I am aware that many women, including myself, are constantly second-guessing our appearances because we are worried about how we will be judged and perceived by others. When makeup coats toddlers’ faces and little girls dress in skimpy outfits and dance provocatively in front of an audience that demands adult sexuality of them, the insecurities of women and their bodies reach an ultimate level.

Our culture will be forever infamous for the production of insecure women and women as strippers instead of a culture that honors women because of their merit. Because these girls are growing up with the idea that pageantry and provocativeness are esteemed by the world around them, they will take that ideology with them as they grow into women. They will also take with them the ideology that sexual proclivity is to be esteemed above an actualized mind.

While attempting to perfect the dress and appearance of little girls, these tyrannical stage-moms are dissolving the respect these girls have for themselves. These mothers are oblivious to the notion that their children are capable of something beyond false eyelashes and sequined bikini-tops.

<i>Toddlers & Tiaras</i> is showing little girls that their sole worth is to be found as an object of physical competition. While learning how to properly curl their hair and dance like Madonna, these little girls are missing out on what it means to be a child, namely playing in dirt and developing their mind as thoughtful individuals.

We belong to a culture that claims great innovation and education, but we are not attempting to advance the minds of our children. We are instead advancing sexuality at younger and younger ages.

It would be prudent for parents to teach their daughters Italian and take them to exploratoriums instead of teaching them how to put on lipstick and showing them that “blondes really do have more fun.” Putting a little girl in a bikini and sending her onto a stage will neither benefit her developing mind nor elevate her self-respect.

<i>Staff reporter Alley Jordan is a junior political science major at Seattle Pacific.</i>

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Title: Little girls exploited on TV reality show | Author: Alley Jordan | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2012-05-23 | Internal ID: 8257

Alley Jordan

Opinion Editor Alley Jordan is a senior political science and classics major.