Last night, my husband and I caught about three minutes of the show “Toddlers and Tiaras.” There was a pretty little girl in a lot of make up, smiling and standing before a crowd, her mother proudly looking on with tears in her eyes.
“When I’m in my make up,” the little girl said, “I feel pretty.”
And she looked pretty. I certainly wasn’t scandalized. It looked like any other mother / daughter activity to me.
The next shot was a teaser for the next segment, in which a young girl, probably three or four, was walking down the corridor, getting ready to go on stage.
“Don’t take your dress off right now,” the mom said calmly. The girl stopped in her tracks, put her head down, whined, and flopped face-down on the floor in slow motion.
My husband and I dissolved into laughter. That would have been Natalina’s exact reaction. Suddenly I was overwhelmed by the pressure on these families and the effort they must exert to go through this particular activity. They can have it. We’re not interested over here. Let me tell you why.
1) I happen to think my two girls are the most beautiful human beings ever to toddle the earth.
Oh, you don’t? That’s okay. I am acutely aware that as the mother of these two girls, I will find them more beautiful than anything. I assume that every other mother of every other child thinks the same about their children. Therefore, my opinion of their beauty is useless in determining whether they should be on a toddler runway. I prefer to have my viewpoint, separate from the judges and audiences that would not be so kind.
2) As a parent, I don’t have the energy to truck them around to this and that agent or show producer. The casting calls, the constant primping, the frills, the organization. I mean, it’s all I can do to get them to the library two miles away. And putting make up on a two-year-old kid? I can’t even put make up on myself. I’m not cut out for show business.
3) I highly doubt they’re cut out for show business, either. The scene with the little girl flopping on the floor seconds before her big moment reduced me to giggles because I’m absolutely sure that would be us should we ever attempt the spotlight.
4) I don’t know if I would be strong enough to put all this pressure on them and emphasis on their looks and at the same time instill in them that looks mean (or should mean) nothing in the real world. I am not a complicated enough creature to be able to resolve those mixed messages. I’m sure some parents can do it, but I have no idea how.
5) It takes them out of a loving home environment and puts them under harsh lighting and critical eyes at such a young age. They are just learning about themselves and their place in the world around them. I just don’t think adult stranger criticism is going to help their development.
Thankfully, so far in their two-year life-span, the girls have never expressed to me an interest in showing off their looks to millions of strangers on television. While some toddlers may have a burning desire to do this, mine are content to play princess and superman.
I’d like to keep it that way.
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