Toddlers & Tiaras

I decided to take a little break from the Housewives for a day or two.  Instead, I just wanted to share a little bit about one of my other reality TV obsessions.

I found “Toddlers & Tiaras” a while ago, on a night when I could neither sleep nor concentrate on a book.  This program did nothing for my insomnia.  Those of you who have watched it know exactly what I mean.  This diminutive group of beauty queens, and their crazy mothers, are a sight to behold.  It is mesmerizing and horrific, all at the same time.  Again, for the same inane reasons as to why I watch the HWs, I just can’t turn away.

I am a stepmom to two sons, so beauty pageants weren’t even a remote possibility at our house.  I can get grass stains out of a football uniform but wouldn’t know the first thing about how to bedazzle a dress for a potential princess.  The time, money and energy expended on this activity just boggles the mind.  In one episode, a mother happily forked over $1,200 for her two year old’s dress.   That dress will only be worn for a very, very short time, given the growth spurts of toddlers, never mind the notion of contestants not wanting to be seen in every pageant wearing the same thing – Heaven forbid!

Now, there is more to this in terms of behind the scenes preparation.  Pageant coaches are hired, and most of them are former title holders and crown wearers.  They take their jobs very seriously.  The coach must teach things like how to walk, smile, wave and do something called the “cupcake” pose – which is a way for these little girls to hold their hands and arms so that their fingertips just brush the edges of their crinoline packed skirts.  Most of the girls are fitted with “flippers”, which I guess are best described as baby dentures.  They are meant to disguise the very natural process of losing one’s baby teeth.  They are tanned, teased, sprayed and made up to within an inch of their lives.  Most of these little girls do not appear to be enjoying their transformations.

Pageant moms are a breed unto themselves.  Some are former beauty queens, while others are, at least to me,  living some vicarious fantasy life through their little girls.  They are completely obsessed, to the point of irrationality.  They rehearse their children for hours,  and scream – at their spouses, the pageant judges, their daughters and everyone else who gets in their way.  They scare me.

The pageants, themselves, are both sad and funny.  Judges take this stuff very, very seriously.  They rate these little folks on poise, grace, beauty, personality and, sometimes, talent.  Now, I don’t know about you, but how graceful or poised is a one year old?  The introductions of each contestant are meant to give a brief background – another thing that is pretty simple when a child has yet to reach pre-school.  My absolute favorite went something like this,  “Let’s welcome Laci.  She is 10 months old and her favorite food is formula.”  Some of the outfits that these girls parade onto stage wearing are off the charts.  I have seen a child dressed up as Julia Roberts’ character in “Pretty Woman”, while another mom tried frantically to sew what appeared to be flank steak onto her daughter’s bikini in an effort to recreate Lady Gaga’s (in)famous meat dress.  The idea was abandoned when the juices from the steaks began to streak the girl’s newly applied spray tan. You just can’t make this stuff up.

If you’re still not ready to call the local offices of Child Protective Services, let’s move on to how to keep these children motivated and energetic.  Not to put too fine a point on this, but let’s just say that the moms are “juicing” these kids.  They dole out what they call “special juice” or “happy juice”, which seems to take the form of Red Bull-like drinks mixed with heaven knows what, served in baby bottles and  sippy cups.  Another mother made reference to something she called “Pixie Stix” and “pageant crack” – a super sugary substance delivered in a tube.  Her daughter was busily demonstrating the effects while zipping around the room, hollering “My go-go juice is starting to work”.  These kids are bouncing off of the walls.  When they crash, they crash hard, and meltdowns and tantrums abound.  They are tired, cranky and hungry.  They’re just being kids, coming off of a sugar high, courtesy of mom.

When the pageants finally come to the crowning portion, much of the time all hell breaks loose.  Dozens of crowns are passed out, I think in an effort to make all of the girls feel a little bit better.  The real goal is always to be crowned some version of the Ultimate Supreme Queen.  Anything less and these mothers are not happy.  It isn’t even about any prize money, as the sums are rather paltry.  No, these mothers want validation for their efforts.  It is supposed to say that my kid is the best, therefore I am the best mom.  It’s a lot like the “My Son/Daughter is on The Honor Roll” bumper stickers, but on a manic and more than a little disturbing level.  It isn’t even about being proud of their children.  These are women on a mission.  Should their child leave that auditorium without that loftiest of titles, well,  it is as if the hounds have been unleashed.  They stomp off into the sunset, dragging their screaming and crying tots,  while expressing their disgust, loudly and profanely.  They are tired, cranky and hungry, but they have no good excuse, other than their own disappointment and some perceived sense of failure.

All in all, I am grateful that I was allowed, as a very little girl, to pursue my dream of becoming Dale Evans.  I was quite happy riding my little horse on a stick until I became old enough and big enough to experience the real thing,  wearing my cowboy boots and western shirt, protecting my imaginary ranch from cattle rustlers.  When I wasn’t riding the range, I was flitting about my grandparents’ garden, wearing my homemade Sleeping Beauty costume, in my tiara and plastic princess shoes.  At no time was I ever threatened with the application of false eyelashes.

I can’t imagine what the future holds for these tiny beauty queens.  I imagine it will be more of the same, until they are old enough to have their own dreams and stage their own revolts.  I’m holding out hope for the latter.  Frankly, failing to execute a coup, they just might be doomed to become members of some future franchise of the Real Housewives.

Empress  (oh, and by the way, I still have that tiara)

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51 Responses to Toddlers & Tiaras

  1. klmh says:

    I can’t believe anyone that loved their baby could put them through this, but Im afraid I couldn’t watch it without needing some blood pressure meds. in hand. What is wrong with these mothers? I guess they are trying to make themselves feel more special and they are just living through their little girls. I know better than to watch now… I too have a problem with being unable to look away at some of these exploitive reality shows. Hoarders comes to mind and thankfully my husband pulled me out of the danger zone before I got addicted.
    I really enjoy your blogs. Tx

    • klmh,
      Thank you for stopping by. I, too, wonder about what has become of my standards for TV viewing. I know that parents are motivated by many things in many arenas. Even with the sports stuff raising our boys, that parents were more than a little invested in these games.
      BTW – thank you for your lovely words at Q’s place. Please join us anytime – my intent here is to make everyone feel welcome. My posts are just coming from a different place in my head. 🙂

    • Viewer 5 says:

      Hi K – yah. Hoarders. No. Just: no. Gives me bad dreams.

      • klmh says:

        Hi V5,
        Scary, isn’t it? I feel so bad for this people, but understand there isn’t a lot family members can do to help.
        My husband is beginning to feel that way about the cats I have around here, although if someone else would love them, they could be theirs in an instant!

        • PussyGalore says:

          Hoarders absolutely must be avoided while eating dinner in front of the television. Nothing will cause you to lose your appetite quite as quickly as a hoarder’s home. The common thread with hoarders and characteristic all hoarders seem to share is selfishness and that is generally compounded by laziness. It really isn’t an enjoyable watch for me. I first learned of the phenomenon of hoarders many years ago when Diane Keaton directed a film about the subject called, “Unstrung Heroes” which starred Michael Richards who lived with his brother in a NY apt. amidst their hoard. Excellent film sans the disgusting level of filth you see on the TV show.

          • klmh says:

            I think its a mental illness as a secondary disease to something bigger, like bipolar. Unfortunately we have two affected in our extended family and both have a house that might not rival the ones shown on TV, but are supposedly close to it.
            Oprah, years ago had a lovely woman on her show that was a hoarder. She had her house cleaned for her and a week later, the stuff started to accumulate again. It dawned on Oprah that there were other issues apparent in this lady’s life. Not sure what happened with the lady.

          • PG,
            I absolutely cannot watch any of the Hoarders. It is depressing and nauseating at the same time. When I was cop, we had to go to a home like those portrayed, to remove an elderly woman by an order from the Department of Mental Health. Without describing the place in detail, I will tell you that I took the time to go home and shower during my shift, and throw that day’s uniform in the garbage.

            • PussyGalore says:

              OMG. I have a very weak stomach and don’t think I’d be able to set foot in a house like that without tossing my cookies.

  2. I really enjoy your blog. If you like T & T you’ll love Dance Moms. It’s another train wreck.

    • I do love Dance Moms. I might just have to write a little something about that, too. The Candy Apples v Abby Lee Miller dynamic is an interesting one.

      • I find it less disturbing than T & T because at the very least the girls have talent and are able to tell their mothers if they want to participate or not. On T & T most of the children need to be bribed to participate.

        I had a good friend when my children were toddlers who put her oldest son in pageants. We lived in a small town, so she’d drive at least an hour to find them, and she would tell me how she would bribe him with McDonalds to behave. He won many from what I remember, and her big goal was to have him score a commercial so that she could use the residuals for his college education.

        She tried to talk me into entering my daughter into pageants but she wasn’t the sort of kid who liked to perform so I didn’t consider doing it. I had NO idea what pageants were really like until I saw the show . My friend moved away and I haven’t heard from her in over 15 years. I sometimes wonder if her son ever got his commercial.

        • ITA about the difference between Dance Moms and T&T. I think that the moms of T&T have expectations which far exceed reality. They really believe that their little ones have a shot at stardom. Even the very talented girls at Abby Lee will find that shot is one in a million.
          I knew a pageant winner, she was Miss Connecticut, who had taken dance lessons for years and was the star of the dance studio she attended. She went on to Broadway and then did a very short lived TV show costarring with John Ritter. Her spotlight was dimmed very quickly, as newer and younger girls came along. That was the only real success story to come out of one dance school and hundreds of students.

      • PussyGalore says:

        Empress…….I call them the Rotten Apples. Kathy is a b i t c h on wheels. Little Vivi is gorgeous but she clearly is not the least bit interested in dancing and it’s sad that her mother is forcing her to do it.

        • tuzentswurth says:

          The difference is T&T is showing the girls at a young age, Dance Moms girls are older, but were started very young also. This is considered a part of normal life to the girls now, IMO they have been brainwashed. Few if any will obtain stardom in adulthood, These are the future Kim Richards’ imo.

  3. Empress, I agree with you that there are very few dancers and pageant girls who make it “big” if that’s what you want to call it. I think the key is to let your child pursue what they love, no matter what it is. There is nothing wrong with dance lessons, participating in pageants, gymnastics, cheerleading competitions, or any sport if that’s what your child likes to do. An example is that both of my girls enjoyed playing softball, but that’s where the similarities ended. One enjoyed the “fun” of playing slow pitch, very noncompetitive, everyone gets to play softball. The other loved and lived the competitive fastpitch, very fast paced, base stealing, in it to win it softball. One left it behind and went the traditional college route. The other kept at it through high school and college and is now in the coaching ranks. I guess the point I’m trying to make is let your child pursue their dreams, not yours and let them rise in that dream as far as they want to go. I have seen time and time again the disappointment in parents thinking their kids are going to get a full college ride just by participating in a sport. It very rarely happens. Support your kids in the things they love, not the things you expect them to do or that you did as a child, and let them decide how far they want to take it. Now, my fun softball daughter is on her way to pick me up for a shopping session at Home Goods. Hope everyone has a great day.

    • I think all parents struggle with what is a “good fit” as far as their kids’ extracurriculars. My brother was a competitive swimmer, I took to the piano (even though the deal was that I could still wear my boots during lessons), and my sister loved dance and voice lessons. Coercion and bribery are whole other animals.

    • Viewer 5 says:

      Hey, BB! Nice sunrise you’ve got there.

    • PussyGalore says:

      Hi BB…….Lucky you going to Home Goods. When I was visiting a friend in L.A. last spring I spent hours at Home Goods and bought a ton of stuff, although I was limited by the fact that I only one suitcase and as it was I was well over the limit on my return. The closest HG store to Vancouver is in Portland and that’s bit too far away although now that I think about it it is conceivable that I could drive down there. Have fun shopping.

  4. Designdiva says:

    Good Morning all….. Yet another day in the continuing yard sale here at Mr Fords garage..UGH,
    Strangers touching my “stuff”.. I’m just staying in the office to avoid them….HAGGLE HAGGLE… Look the price marked is the price marked..take it or leave it……

    T & T….ah yes… I remember stumbling on this show in repeat one early a.m. Needless to say I was shocked.. And of course the episode followed the Saga of a FLORIDUH woman and her out of control child…WOW….Thank God I guess I had boys who played sports…Now that I enjoy…Of course I was the MOM/DIVA who painted her face the teams color and got the crowd riled up to support the TEAM…
    I could NEVER be a pageant Mom….None of the chapters of my life have room for those types of MOMS….I can’t even get into Dance Moms any longer… And now I hear we have Ice Skating Moms coming to a screen soon..What’s next CHEERLEADING MOMS….That statement alone invokes memories of the Mother in Texas who arranged for a hit on another cheerleader…WHo remebers that story >>>>>

    KLMH…Nice to see you here today…..WINK hope to see you again….
    Hugs and peace all
    Off to spray the LYSOL…..

    • Gymnastics moms as well. I could suggest a few cast members 🙂

    • klmh says:

      Love seeing you here too Diva.
      You are doing a great job with the time line for the “she who must not be named” HW stinker, and I’m even leaning in your direction, so to speak! I’ve been reading all about it.
      Thanks so much for your excellent sleuthing and dedication in ferreting her out…

      • Nancy says:

        So sorry to hear about your little kitty. Sounds like you are doing the right thing.
        It’s so hard. Sending prayers your way.

      • PussyGalore says:

        Hi klmh……nice to see you here and thank you for piping up that day a few wks. if you know what I mean.

        I too saw that your kitty is having problems and I’ve had a lot of experience with sick kitties. You mentioned he’s not drinking much and I’m wondering if you’ve tried to feed him water through a syringe. I’ve had to do that and it’s not difficult at all and it’s the best way to ensure they get enough water to keep their organs functioning.

        • klmh says:

          I think she is a nice person, just took the wrong turn that day. She has apologized to you and Diva. I do appreciate your offer PG.
          Its so difficult to know the right thing to do. This A.M., he ate a bit of Wal Mart garlic chicken (warmed to perfection) and a bit of cat milk. But he is about 16 or 17 and I can’t see putting him thru the regimen involved for Histoplasmosis recovery. It will take so long, and he is such terrible shape from other problems. I tried water from a syringe but its a no go. There is some high calorie food the vet gave me, but he hated it. I appreciate your note PG.

          • PussyGalore says:

            Well, in that case he may be reaching the end which is never easy for us two-leggeds. Bless you both.

            As far as the other situation is concerned, I don’t know if you saw all the ugly things she posted at Lynn’s but I certainly did and her lame apology which did not directly address either Diva or myself but was rather a blanket apology and considering how offensive her comments were that day her apology did not cut it with me.

            • klmh says:

              I didn’t see what was on Lynn’s, only on Q.’s. I went to Lynn’s to check but by the time I got there, I think it had been sanitized.
              Im sorry it happened and understand.
              Thank you for your kindness.

          • Designdiva says:

            What apology are you talking about ???

            • klmh says:

              The one that involved you with another about how to put a clip on reducing the amount of time it took to reload the page. She apologized to you.

            • tuzentswurth says:

              DD, She apologized and rightfully so, I don”t know but something was really “off” with someone’s crazy behavior. Diva, your input is always insightful. Almost everyone understood your helpful and appropriate post about you tube videos. You are missed at Q’s.

    • PussyGalore says:

      What’s next, Cheerleading Moms, you jest. I would not be the least bit surprised if there isn’t such a show coming down the pike soon. Enough with these mothers.

  5. Viewer 5 says:

    Hi All! (And to you, Diva – easy on the Lysol, there, babe)
    I don’t watch the young girl pageant shows. Mostly because I don’t like seeing that glint of delusional avarice in the mother’s eyes. And the grammar. Ouch, the grammar. Plus, those poor husband’s going into super-debt. For what? You hit the nail in writing “No, these mothers want validation for their efforts. It is supposed to say that my kid is the best, therefore I am the best mom.” Yuck. Just: yuck.

    Btw – I saw a cute bumper sticker. Ready? “My Kid Can Outfish Your Honor Student” – I’ve seen this same car more than once. Best part? There’s dad, driving, and there’s the kid. Kid has glasses, is maybe 12 years old, and looks like an adorable nerd. Made my day.

  6. Nancy says:

    Hi Empress,
    I can’t wait until Skating Moms starts. I think I could write the script for it. I’m so glad my dad just dropped me off at the front door. I think I would have stopped skating if he was like those skating moms.
    Hope all your animals are doing fine. I would love to meet them one day. I haven’t been around
    too many horses in my life.

  7. Adgirl says:

    I love your blog. I don’t watch the Mommy & Me shows because frankly, I don’t enjoy kids all that much. I was able to contain this character flaw when I was raising my own children. I don’t think they noticed. LOL.

    I AM that woman who will not sit near kids on buses, airplanes and restaurants. STFU!

  8. PussyGalore says:

    Toddlers and Tiaras is absolutely fascinating to me. I especially liked the tiny little girl whose mother dressed her up as Madonna in her gold lame, Jean-Paul Gauthier pointy bustier thing, which was hilarious and created quite the controversy. That one, however, was recently upstaged by the mother who dressed her daughter up as Dolly Parton, complete with boobs and butt pads, a costume the mother herself had worn when she competed in pageants as a child. Needless to say that too created a controversy.

    The parents as well as the kids are really interesting studies. The pageants cost these families a ton of money and I’ve noticed that a lot of them live in double-wide trailers, not that there’s anything wrong with that but it does seem that their priorities are skewed. And many of the mothers are seriously overweight and not particularly attractive, not that there’s anything wrong with that either. I hope this doesn’t make me sound mean or judgemental but I am trying to make a point. If I was going to invest that kind of money I would want to be somewhat sure that it was going to be parlayed into something bigger with some kind of a payoff, such as winning a major beauty contest with university tuition as part of the prize. And a young woman must be extraordinarily beautiful in order to win a major beauty contest with that kind of prize. Short of that it seems like a bad investment to me and I don’t understand their priorities.

    All that said, some of the children are really adorable and some have very sweet personalities and are fun to watch. And some of the parents make complete fools of themselves jumping around and making silly gestures and faces for their kids to ape on stage. Fascinating indeed.

    • Viewer 5 says:

      Oh, PG. Judge away, my dear, on the pudge and the $. My parents were older, from a different generation, and barely spent any money on us – let alone used charge cards they couldn’t pay in full each month, geez.

    • tuzentswurth says:

      How about instill some valid self worth in these daughters and invest in education, rather than work on ass-shaking and coquettish poses? The whole industry screams “freak” to me.

  9. Empress, I’ve got to say that I love your layout and font size. It’s very easy to read.

    • Thank you for that. I know, being a woman of a certain “vintage” and the wearer of trifocals, that I often have problems with fonts and stuff.
      Now, don’t even ask what it is like to watch TV with me – I find myself wandering around the house asking hubby “What did you say?”

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