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Are the Parents on 'Toddlers and Tiaras' Exploiting Their Children?

The popular TLC show takes you inside the world of child beauty pageants.

TLC's hit show Toddlers and Tiaras features controlling parents pushing their kids into the controversial world of child beauty pageants. Little girls and boys wear makeup, false eyelashes, spray tans, fake hair and glitzy outfits that are often resemble what an adult entertainer might wear on stage. 

Is there good that can come from being on the show, or is this a form of child abuse? Our parents' council sounds off on the issue. 

Carol Yeh-Garner: I've only seen clips of this show. I really feel badly for these children that seem to be exploited by their parents. I think these parents are doing a disservice to their children by focusing only on their external beauty. I'm sure the parents feel differently and think they are teaching their child to be confident and to have certain talents and that may actually be the case. The show probably highlights the most dramatic situations, as most reality shows do. My concern for these children is that oftentimes, the parents push them so hard and don't allow them to just be children. 

Stacey Ross: I did watch Toddlers and Tiaras once and once was enough, but I like to try to understand why it is so special to some. Here is my outlook:

1. I do not relate at all.

2. I find it superficial and unnecessary.

3. I believe that beauty pageants, in general, are outdated and can be demeaning.

At the same time I can accept that there are cultural differences that value a girl’s beauty just like there are those that value a boy’s athleticism, and that working hard for something might mean something significant to certain people. When we focus on kids’ talents and interests we are serving them much better in their development than rewarding their beauty, personality and costumes, but, again, some might value those traits as significant. I think that the parents who push their “little princesses” to do such dream of being proud of something. And to some moms glamming up their kids like dolls, fake baking them, and rehearsing them for hours and hours seems beyond overboard. I do not agree with treating girls this way and contend that it borders on immoral. I have to say, however, that the show is going to show the most outrageous and controversial sides to this custom, and I have not experienced it enough to really understand what winning one of these competitions really means from a cultural standpoint.  

Ray Pearson: Never saw the show but looked at the website. Anytime children are exploited that is a travesty. Never had my beautiful young daughter in any beauty contests but worked on a positive self image from the time she was an infant and now in her 20s. 

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