Commentary: ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ a shameful symbol of times

Christine Burroni

Spray-tanned girls with fake eyelashes and glamorous gowns impatiently wait to hear their name called to see if they’ve won that prestigious title. You may think I’m talking about the Miss America Pageant that took place this past weekend, but no, these contestants are quite different. They’re 4 years old.

Every Wednesday on TLC,  “Toddlers & Tiaras” airs at 10 p.m. It’s a reality show of little girls between the ages of 3 to 6 who compete in beauty pageants, particularly in the South. The preparation for these pageants requires endless hours of practicing routines, hired professionals, and most importantly, the cooperation of the contestants, the 4-year-olds who just want to play.

Unfortunately, these little girls are treated as if they are indeed Miss America pageant contestants. With essentially the depravation of their youth at stake, these girls are practicing their entrances, dance routines and pageant etiquette. The thing that makes this situation even more unfortunate is that with every practice, spray-tan and ounce of makeup their pushy mothers lay on, they become more and more superficial. “I like looking at myself,” one girl says after her makeup is layered on, completely transforming her innocent 4-year-old face into a mature pageant queen in a matter of minutes.

Watching this show, I can’t help but wonder if this applies to real life. Do little girls obsess over the way they look as early as age 4? Is it even considered humane to spray-tan little girls? If girls this young are obsessed with their image, it can only get worse from here.

I know that this show is documenting a specific type of people and that not every 4-year-old subjects themselves to the blatant judgment of others, but to bring this instance to a bigger picture, is life a beauty pageant? Is fake the new beautiful?

Every day we’re subjected to advertisements of new beauty products that will cover flaws and hide imperfections. It’s as if the media is telling every woman that they’re ugly and needs their product. I understand and am fully aware of media and persuasion tactics, but if these so-called tactics are reaching out to 4-year-olds and young girls in general, then it’s clearly out of control.

It’s most definitely a shame that our society judges so much on appearance and essentially teaches our youth that appearance is everything. Whether it’s the Miss America Pageant or just a normal day at school, it has become a necessity to look good.

What is even more of a shame is that these children will grow up thinking that they have to be “beautiful,” or at least what they’re taught beautiful is. We have a whole generation of image-obsessed girls on the rise and this will only make our society, and even our world, more superficial than it already is.

True beauty comes from within, and as cliché as that sounds, it’s most definitely true.  Considering that the fake tans and pounds of makeup that girls put on, their true beauty will be always hidden or at least hard to reveal. Clearly, they are under the false impression that fake is indeed the new beautiful.

Time and time again I know we’ve heard this, but being yourself is the best way to be. There is no amount of makeup or expensive clothes that compares to the beauty of true personality, a lesson that should be learned by all, particularly ages 4 and up, please.