Toddlers & Tiaras. Beauty or Abuse?

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.

Really? 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.

30 responses to “Toddlers & Tiaras. Beauty or Abuse?”

  1. Hi Selena. All I can say is this: I agree with you 100%…and not just because we’re the same person. (LOL)


    1. Hi, Rosanna, my long lost sister. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  2. Agree Selena. A lot of reality television teaches people that “bullying” is okay. Only they don’t think of it as bullying. You ask those same people what bullying is and all they think of is grade school, junior high or high school bullies.


    1. Thanks, Denise.. You’re right bullying isn’t just about mean kids at school and the creation of reality shows (some of them) is encouraging more and more bullying. Adults act like mean kids on TV, but I think adults put themselves in that situation, some of these kids are put it into with no choices. Nobody should be publicly humiliated, I am just shocked that with teeny kids that are on these shows, that there would be a huge line that wouldn’t be crossed. I’m surprised the anti-bullying campaigns haven’t done something about these two shows.


  3. Hi Selena, (It’s heidi), Wonderful post.I agree. I have never watched this and I never will. They can say it’s about talent or fun, but when you cut through all the bs its all about who’s the prettiest. Kids couldn’t care less about this stuff. It’s all about the parents unfulfilled lives. I’m all for kids reaching their potential and parents helping them get there, but not like this. It seems so many adults are so over involved in their kids lives, they forget to act like grownups. Adults need to do adult things and focus more on the world they are leaving them instead of pretending their children’s lives are their own. Let them chose what they want to try and let them fail if it’s not for them. They will recover and move on just like we did. Makeup, highlights and unless they have a nasty uni-brow, waxing can wait.


    1. Hi, Heidi, thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a thought provoking comment.

      You’re absolutely right, it’s about parents living some fantasy or goal through their kids or fulfilling something that is obviously empty in their own lives. Stop the waxing, make-up, and gyrating, let these kids play hopscotch, jump rope, anything other than exposing them to becoming ridiculed.

      Good point about not recovering with the media hailstorm some of them are and going to endure.(I agree about the unibrow, but a parent can tweak that). I’m never going to watch those shows again. One at a time, I think we stop watching, they have to stop producing.


  4. Hi Selena (It’s heidi) Wonderful post and I agree. I have never watched this and I never will. They can say it’s about talent and fun, but when you cut through the bs it’s about who’s the prettiest Kids couldn’t care less about this stuff. It’s about the parents unfulfilled lives. I am all for parents helping their kids reach their potential, but not like this. Some parents are so involved in their kids lives, they forget to be grown ups. Adults need to do adult things like work on leaving them a better world and stop pretending their childrens lives are a second chance to live theirs. Let them chose what they want to try and let them fail at it if it’s not for them. They will recover and move on just like we did. Makeup, highlights and unless they have a nasty uni-brow, waxing can wait.


  5. Hi, Selena! I totally agree with you.
    Although, those shows are not widely watched in my country, it seems there is a global tendency around kids’ reality shows. A local tv station made one show with children singing, and the national board of infancy tried to stop it, to prevent bulling and abuse. But the tv station said it was the parents’ decision because there was not apparent harm to the children. So, it’s necesary that viewers stop watching the shows and express their discomfort.


    1. Hi, Grettel, thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting.

      Viewers have more power than they realize. If people stop watching the shows, it will show in the ratings, advertisers won’t advertise and the show will go off the air.

      I think talent shows for kids are great, however, in this age of instant fame via Internet and the fact that there are so many arm chair Simon Cowells, who want to tear down a child’s talent. Plus the fact that the more drama the better for ratings, it has ruined innocent talent shows that could bolster a child’s confidence. Although, I still believe kids should just be kids and let the grown ups do grown up things. They’re only young for such a short time.


  6. Selena– I have thus far managed to avoid watching Toddlers & Tiaras. I don’t know if my mom heart could take it. Your description of the Gogo Juice was enough to nearly send me over the edge. The entire situation is a recipe for disaster. My heart breaks for these babies and the struggles with self-esteem, etc. that they will face.

    Since MB contributed half of my babybugs’ DNA, they have really dark brown hair. My sweet girl babybug has the beginnings of a pretty serious unibrow. We will be waxing that thing eventually. At some point, it will become child abuse NOT to fix it ;).


    1. Hi, Ladybug, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Teaching your daughter some grooming tips in private is different than showcasing her on a TV show, and I’m sure when you do get to the uni-brow you won’t be terrorizing her, the way these mothers do.

      I know what you mean about your mom heart, I was cursing at the television set. My husband kept saying, turn if off, it’s making you so angry. He thought it was all a set up, because like me, he really couldn’t get his mind around any parent putting their baby in this situation. One question he had, where the hell are the fathers?

      These men have no balls to tell their wives, NO, you’re not going to put our baby on a show like this.

      That Gogo juice should be illegal, that mother should be laying on a therapist couch. But I bet she’s making a ton of money over all this. Idiot woman.


  7. Hey Selena, I totally agree with you. It makes me so angry to see how some of these kids are treated. What really floors me are the moms who are angry when their kids lose. I’ve seen some of them make their kids feel so bad just cause they didn’t get a damn trophy. I had never even heard about the dancing show till I visited my mom this summer and she had it on. I was disgusted at how those girls were treated. It’s totally about moms selfishly living through their daughters. I can’t imagine doing that to my daughter.


    1. Hi, Steph, thanks for stopping by and for your thoughts.

      I did see a few moms get so angry because their baby girls didn’t win the top prize. She should be ashamed of herself when she watches the show, somehow I don’t think she will be.

      That dancing show, I only lasted through one episode. I swear I would drop kick that instructor if she ever spoke to my child or actually any child in front of me. She is a bully, and I don’t understand how the parents, the network and child protective services don’t see it. It can’t just be us.


  8. Well Said Selena, I couldn’t agree more.


    1. Hi, RM, thanks for stopping by.

      My husband is still wondering where the hell the fathers are. He feels the dads need to man-up and reel their wives in and protect their daughters. He still thinks deep down this can’t be real and they are all actors. As a dad, a husband and an uncle, he can’t fathom how any man could stand by, while their precious girls are being treated this way.


  9. Well said Selena. i couldn’t agree more.


  10. Jon Benet? Ring a bell? Its just awful and pray to God everyday that I have a son and the only thing I worry about is will he get hurt riding his bike. Seriously, these shows need to be off the air. Its child abuse/pornography and everything else that has been said so far. And now one of these little “charmers” has her own show? When is the madness going to stop?

    BTW, I wax my eyebrows and it still hurts every time.



    1. Hi, Marika, thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts.

      I thought about Jon Benet as I wrote this blog and I pray and hope that no other child will have to endure what she endured.

      So many of us agree that it is blatant child abuse, yet, I still don’t understand why child protective services don’t step in and do something about it.

      I’m not surprised to hear that one of these little charmers now has her own show. I won’t be watching it, and I hope others don’t tune in as well, it will encourage more of these types of exploitation shows.

      As for waxing eyebrows, never again! LOL That stuff is lethal. Threading is less painful, cheaper and easier on the skin. 🙂


  11. Let children be children. It’s pretty simple. When I hear of such abuse, I get sick. Shame on the parents who abuse their children this way.


    1. Hi, Mike, thanks for stopping by. I totally agree with you.


  12. Selena, I missed Anderson Cooper’s interview. I’d be interested to know how he handled the mom. What I would love to see is one of those abusive moms to have the guts to go on Bill O’Reilly or Nancy Grace –


    1. Hi, Pina, thanks for visiting my blog and adding your thoughts.

      Well said. Yes, I’d love to see those so-called-mothers get skewered by a reporter/talk show host who would take them to task.

      From the clip that I saw on Anderson Cooper, he tasted the juice and said he got a buzz just after a few sips. He didn’t really confront them, and I felt he let them off easy. He did ask a few questions, but he didn’t nail them as you or I or a lot of people would have. I would have said right to their faces, that they are abusive. I was also disappointed that nobody in the audience or Anderson said that child protective services should look into these parents more. They had some support from audience members, from what I saw. When are these proponents of these shows going to realize that it’s bullying at its best and that they need to be more responsible and really care about children?


  13. Those 2 shows give the legit pageants a bad rep. And yes, to me that is definitely child abuse. Kids that young can not make those decisions for themselves.
    If a child was being yelled at and treated like they are in those shows in public, you bet someone would be calling the cops.
    My biggest hang-up with it is, to me, that putting those girls in make up and clothes of adult women, it is making the pedifiles see them as adults and not children, and may make them go after more kids.
    I have helped and talked with victims of both rape and child molestation. Talking to kids and getting them to trust adults again is a task I will do again and again. No child should ever be afaid.
    My step-daughter was in pageants when she was a teen. It was her choice and they were nothing like the ones on TV. Her younger sisters did as well. They were not allowed to wear make-up or dress like adults. It was for self esteme and just for fun.
    I just have a hard time believing that a mother could put their child thru that. Just let them be a kid!


    1. Well, said, CG, and thanks for coming to the blog and adding your thoughts.

      Kudos to you for helping victims. I totally agree, dressing them up like streetwalkers and adult women brings out all the crazies, don’t these parents even think of that? Or is it the allure of fame on TV and money that overrides all common sense?

      You’re right, if a parent called her child names like that dance instructor does and screams at them in public, people would be outraged, the media would be all over it, yet, this Abby woman gets to go on talk shows and she is praised, REALLY PRAISED (from my research) by some parents as being such a wonderful teacher. I’d kick her ass so hard if she ever did that in front of me.

      If I were to ever write a book that had those mothers has heroines, or that dance instructor as a heroine, the readers would slam me and they’d be in their right to slam me. We wouldn’t tolerate it in fiction, knowing it was blatant abuse, yet, the media, TV executives and some people seem to think it’s okay in real life.

      Again, I ask the question, where the hell are child protective services?


  14. A. Catherine Noon Avatar
    A. Catherine Noon

    I’ll be honest, I think that most of these shows with children are exploitative. The parents act irresponsibly and it’s bad for the kids. Shame.


    1. Hi, Catherine, I totally agree. The parents need their asses kicked, especially the ones that allow that Abby bully to yell and degrade their daughters on TV. That is NOT how a child learns to dance.


  15. While the shows are disgusting, IMO, they must land big ratings (even more disgusting). The only answer is parents need to be accountable.


    1. I agree, Mike, but with the parents raking in some bucks from exploiting their kids, they don’t seem to understand accountability. The more people watch, the more of these type of shows they will produce. At least there are a lot of us who won’t be tuning in.


  16. […] Toddlers & Tiaras. Beauty or Abuse? « Selena Robins Musings […]


  17. […] garner some kind of fame by being a bully and nasty. I wrote a blog about my disdain for shows like Toddlers and Tiara’s and Dance Moms. I think social media gives the bullies a larger platform, and it may have created some snark, from […]


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