It is an Italian’s child right of passage to learn how to play the accordion at an early age. I wasn’t that good at it; however, I did enjoy practicing at home and torture my older siblings eardrums with my attempts at Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Still, they applauded and encouraged, although today they tell me they plugged their ears with cotton.
My instructor never yelled at me nor did my parents. They were all patient with me, because I know I wasn’t an easy student. I was more interested in shopping for pink shoes to match the color of the second-hand accordion my parents had purchased for me.
My music instructor never uttered a negative criticism or rolled her eyes when I proudly showed her my arts and crafts project—little bows that looked like accordions to glue on shoes. She encouraged me by saying, “Keep using your imagination. Maybe shoe ornaments will catch on.”
My parents didn’t shower us with a lot of toys as they believed in investing their hard earned money in our education which included the arts and activities that would stimulate our minds and physical well-being. They also believed housework; laundry and cooking were good indoor sports and started us all at an early age. They did this by teaching us, talking to us and not putting us on display and especially not screaming at us when we over-cooked the lasagna noodles.
They scrimped and saved to introduce us to different art forms and wanted to pass on their love of music and dance to us kids. They also encouraged both daughters and sons to play sports, not organized as it is today, but to skate on an outdoor rink, play ball in an open field and take our chances on a skateboard.
They enrolled me in Highland Dance classes. I bet you’re wondering why a little Italian girl took Highland dancing? I’m first generation Canadian; my parents and siblings were all born in Italy.
My parents wanted to assimilate with the Canadian culture. My dad at the time smoked cigarettes (Export A). On the package was a picture of a woman, wearing a Scottish tam and my parents watched Don Messer’s Jubilee to learn the language. After I was born, they associated these things with the Canadian culture, so when I was old enough, they enrolled me in Highland Dancing.
I took these dance classes much more seriously than my accordion classes, because I didn’t have to sit and learn to read sheet music, and being a hyperactive child it was a great physical outlet for me. Plus, I made a lot of great memories, shopping with my mom for material so she could sew me a kilt and blouse. My Highland dance instructor was from Scotland, and spoke with a heavy accent. Between her accent and mine, it was quite a challenge for me to master the sword dance. Master it I did, and even performed in a Tattoo.
Just like my music teacher, my dance instructor never criticized or screamed at me, even when I suggested we should decorate the swords and bagpipes with pretty bows. Yes, I was a girly-girl, but could still swing a baseball bat for a home-run and stick handle a puck.
Having the privilege and opportunity to take music lessons and different dance classes not only helped in nurturing my creativity, I also met friends and it became a family activity. Since I attended all my brothers’ sports games, they came to my recitals.
My brothers didn’t have to worry about or were ashamed of their little sister, prancing around on stage in outfits that would make Lady GaGa blush, nor did I gyrate at a tender age that would have propelled my brothers to pound the crap out of anyone or the media, who would make inappropriate comments about their little sister. Not that I gyrate now. Well, not in public anyway.
Reason that didn’t happen, is because children were NOT encouraged to dance, dress or talk like mini-exotic dancers.
For the sole purpose of this blog post, I forced myself to watch a few episodes of the shows; Toddlers and Tiara’s and Dance Moms.
Had these shows been available when I was young, my parents would not have allowed me to watch them, and like me, I’m sure they would have been vocal with their opinions on these shows.
As you will read, my opinion on Toddlers and Tiaras and Dance Moms is negative.
In short, I think the parents who enroll their daughters in these activities are bordering on child abuse, ignoring and encouraging blatant bullying. All for the sake of reality television notoriety.
I know harsh, right?
In my research for this blog, I discovered that parents who enroll their daughters in both Toddler and Tiaras and Dance Moms spend upwards of thousands of dollars to enter their toddlers’ into beauty competitions. They also dole out major bucks to allow Abby Lee Miller, the dance instructor on Dance Moms, to verbally abuse and humiliate their daughters on television.
In my opinion this money could have been better spent for their children’s college funds, music lessons or taking a vacation to a place where their children could learn about different cultures and languages.
I’ve also read on some blogs and watched a few videos that interviewed some of these mothers that their daughters WANTED to be entered into beauty pageants at the ripe old age of two- years-old.
I have yet to meet a two-year-old (and I know plenty) who begged to have their eyebrows waxed, have their hair teased so high a few birds could nest on top of their head.
In the few shows that I managed to watch—I had to literally sit on my hands so I wouldn’t throw the remote or a bottle of water at my television set.
I cringed as I watched a three-year-old girl screaming as the back of her neck and eyebrows were being waxed. I’m a grown up, and I can tell you, waxing hurts like a son-of-a-bitch. One episode had a hair stylist, roughly brush and yank a two-year-old’s hair back so tight, the poor child’s eyes, once round and an innocent blue, were now two dark slits of tear-filled horror.
Ask any woman if she’d allow her hairstylist to yank her head around as if it were a rag doll. She’d probably tell you she’d jump out of the chair and smack her, and never, ever grace that salon again.
If the stylist treating this little girl as if she were her nothing but an inanimate object wasn’t bad enough, the mother yelled, yes, yelled, at her little girl to shut-up and stop crying; because, oh, my goodness, the red splotches would ruin the make-up, the concealer, God forbid the liquid black eyeliner should run down the little cherub’s face or the heavy-handed blue eyes-shadow got smeared. There would be hell to pay for sure. Little girl whimpered, didn’t move a muscle and allowed the mother and bully hairstylist to reshape her innocence.
I don’t know, maybe these mothers are Gypsy Rose Lee’s mother reincarnated?
Speaking of make-up, these babies are plastered with enough blush, lipstick, foundation and false eyelashes that would have Tammy Faye Baker’s ghost come back and gasp in horror.
To pacify these babies—and I do call them babies, for crying out loud, some of them have barely finished toilet training—the oh-so-wise-parents pacify their babies with chocolate and candy. Of course, previous to bribing them with sweets, they’re lecturing their babies about the importance of keeping their figures svelte.
Does anyone else see an eating disorder in these children’s future?
In my research, I discovered a few mothers (and boy, am I using that term loosely) have concocted (not only are these mothers, exotic dancer coaches they’re now Mixologists) a drink they call GoGo Juice. They’re quite proud of this drink. In my research, I discovered that Anderson Cooper showcased the brilliant mother on his show and even tasted this crap.
Warning: I know you won’t, but feel I have to say this anyway. Please do not make this mixture.
GoGo Juice is a blend of Mountain Dew and Red Bull—Crack for Toddlers is what it really is.
This Gogo Juice is given to children as young as three. It’s supposed to energize the child. Because as we all know, toddlers and children in general are lazy bums, they hate running around, playing and need a fast-acting-caffeine fix to get their day started.
Pageant mothers defend this juice (seriously, they do defend this) by stating it keeps their child awake. Hello, if your child is so tired that she needs a happy juice, then ensure she’s getting enough sleep and eats a healthy diet. We all know this, but somehow these parents were too lazy to stand in line when God was handing out common sense.
One mother stated in an interview when asked about the Gogo Juice, she said, “There are far worse things. I could be giving her alcohol.” Anyone have a crown handy for this woman? A banner that says, Mother of the Year? She should be revered by mothers everywhere; she doesn’t spike her daughter’s Mountain Dew with Vodka. I’m so impressed. Aren’t you?
I know that undercover cops and different police agencies have their hands full with shutting down meth labs, but I think a special forces should be put in place to shut down Gogo Juice labs as well.
Little girls are sugar and spice and everything nice, and yes, they love pink, cute clothes, shoes, costumes, as you read above, I loved all those things, plus my soccer shoes, baseball bat, skis, and skates.
However, there has to be a line drawn between what is age appropriate and what is hideously inappropriate. Don’t even get me started on thongs for girls under the age of 18, or children’s jogging pants that say Juicy on the seat of their pants.
I’ve also read these parents defending THEIR choice to enroll their daughters on this show—yes, I say, it’s THEIR choice, I do not believe a one or two or three-year-old or even a seven year-old pleads to be on these shows, and if they did…uhm, whose in charge? Mom, Dad, there is a simple word, “NO.”
But I digress.
These parents have compared these activities to parents who enroll their children in sports.
Have you ever watched a pee-wee hockey team on the ice, wearing just a jock strap, and shaking their little behinds to raunchy music, while trying to score a goal?
Last time I checked, Little League Baseball players were fully clothed. Soccer players wear appropriate shorts and there isn’t a Madonna song playing in the background. I have no words to describe a three-year-old strutting to the song; “Like a Virgin.”
None of the sports team uniforms I know resemble the hooker in the movie Pretty Woman. Yes, a mother actually dressed her five year old to look like Julia Roberts from that movie. Nice, eh?
As for the show Dance Moms, again, the hairstyles, make-up and costumes border on Burlesque or worse, poll dancer attire.
In Dance Moms you have an instructor who has a shorter fuse than Hitler after stubbing his toe. She screams at these young girls, calls them stupid among other disparaging names. Most of the mothers, who sit and watch their daughters being taught by this woman, seem to like her, and her tough-as-a-drill-sergeant methods. Me. I think she’s a verbally abusive bully.
Which brings me to the topic of bullying, because it’s been in the news almost every week. There are groups raising awareness and raising money for this cause. Yes, bullying must stop, especially these days, when the Internet has made it so easy to bully and make fun of children, most times by their own peers.
So if we really care about bullying, why in the hell are producers, parents, and television network executives allowing these shows to air?
Where the hell are child protective services?
Don’t these adults find the manner in which these children are treated, yelled at, ridiculed and put on display, abusive?
Are we serious about protecting our young women’s self-esteem, self-body issues and specifically to stop bullying at all levels?
How can we stop this?
Well, we can’t tell these parents what to do, they wouldn’t listen anyway.
We do have power though. A few things I suggest we can all do.
1. Do not tune in to these shows. Ratings will drop; hopefully low enough the shows will get cancelled.
2. Write an email to the advertisers of these shows and tell them you are not pleased with having their products associated with these show.
Let’s get damn serious about child abuse and bullying.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this or your suggestions on how we can stop the exploitation of these innocent children.