Friday, June 25, 2010

Toddlers and Tiaras

If you've never watched this show, I cannot recommend it highly enough.  Just for the crazy.  Have you ever sat back and looked around your house, thought about your life and the things you obsess about and spend money on and thought you might be a little quirky, or maybe even a little crazy?  Have you?  Well, I have.  For instance, I have way too many books.  Way too many.  As in, when I moved last year, the movers said "another box of books?" and sighed.  They also said "another box of sweaters?" and sighed and "another box of shoes" and sighed, but we won't discuss those obsessions at this time.  My point is, we all have things we like to do and enjoy.  But I can assure you, I am not a hoarder.  (And I'm not in denial like Betty or any of the others; I truly have a place for everything in my home, and it is not the floor.  Well, other than furniture.  And rugs.)

But this show.  Wow.  This show is about people who spend tens of thousands of dollars a year on kiddie pageants.  The money goes to all of the following:  (1) pageant dresses, which are apparently extremely expensive, like at least $500, but more in the $1000 and up range for the high glitz little girls; (2) fake hair (for kids); (3) fake teeth, which are called "flippers," to hide that the kid has lost some of their teeth, as kids tend to do; (4) spray tanning (kids, yes); (5) hair styling and fake hair; (6) makeup; (7) outfits for other categories, like choose your own and things like that, which like (1) can get ridiculously expensive depending on how elaborate you want to go; (8) swimsuits (for kids!) which can run to $300 or more depending on the number of sequins; (9) pageant coaches to teach your child how to do the cupcake pose, the prissy walk, and the pretty feet; (10) dance or other coaches to teach the kid a talent; (11) manicures and facials for the kid (yes, facials on a 5 year old); (12) hotel room where the pageant is being held; (13) gas and food money to get to the pageant; (14) pageant entry fee; and (15) pageant optional entry fees for things like best smile, best hair, etc. 

This is a boatload of money.  The show usually features the mothers sneakily stating how much they spend per year ($10,000 and up, and sometimes way up), while the father states that he has no idea, but probably about $1,000.  Seriously?  These dads are in the dark - well, at least until their episode airs.  The mothers on the show try to justify it as a good investment, but spending $3,000 to win a $500 savings bond is the kind of thinking that got our country into this mortgage mess.  I get that the kid may learn some confidence from standing on a stage in front of a group of people, which is good, but aren't there cheaper ways to give a child that kind of experience?  Because honestly, most of the people the show?  Are not rich, by any means.  They do not appear, in any sense, to have the extra money to spend on this nonsense. 

What strikes me the most about this show is that any kid - no matter how ugly - can look really good when given fake hair, hairstyling, makeup, spray tan, and a pretty dress.  Honestly, some of the little girls they show are not attractive at all "in real life," but once they get all glitzed up, they look pretty good.  And most importantly for pageants, the kid never has to open their mouth and talk (at least on Toddlers and Tiaras), because wow, if the judges could hear some of the grammar and attitude, they might just vote a different way.  The show shows before and after photos of the girls, and some of them are shocking.  You can't even believe it's the same kid.  But that's what make up does, and that's what hairstyling does, and clothes, and that's why models look so good in photo shoots and at fashion shows.  And that is apparently the goal of many of the mothers on this show - to get their kid into modeling, commercials, acting, or the Disney Channel.  I'd say odds are low on that, but then again, I'm not in the business.

This show, though.  You see the claws come out; the dirty looks when another kid wins, the frantic race to be on time, the money spent.  The creepiness of these little girls posing and doing "flirty eyes" with the judges.  It's truly astounding.  I guess I'm too much of a realist.  I look at all the money spent and think it would be better off in a college fund.  However, realistically, none of these girls are going to college.  They are going to repeat the path their mother took, at some low wage, menial job, if any, and put their own daughters through this ridiculousness.  Or maybe they will "marry rich" or become a "trophy wife" or the next "Hanna Montana," which are pretty much the extent of the goals for them from their moms.  (Caveat - at least one episode showed a girl who wanted to be a veterinarian, so kudos to her, and I hope she does it!)

The most interesting thing about the whole kiddie pageant deal, from someone who only knows about it from Toddlers and Tiaras, is that the pageants tend to reward those who spend the most money.  Ostensibly, because if the kid wins, they will continue to enter pageants (and spend more money) for continued wins.  No one does this who doesn't win from time to time, which is why they are frankly so many prizes (trophies and sashes) given to almost everyone who enters.  Each girl they features has a roomful of trophies, sashes, and crowns.  (This is usually one of the first scenes shown on the show.)  Basically, everyone wins something.  Maybe not grand supreme, or grand mini supreme, or what have you, but everyone wins.  And you win once, and you think, maybe you have a chance.  So, you spend more money, buy a better beauty dress, a better optional outfit, spend more money on hair, make up, tanning, and next thing you know, you are in.  One of the saddest episodes I saw was of a little girl who entered her first glitz pageant, and she was quite adorable, but her mother was unsure about the whole glitz thing (because the the creepy spray tanning and cost), and they gave her a "Most Potential" award.  She was adorable and had potential, I agree, but it seemed like such a ploy to get the mother to spend more money in entering her in more glitz pageants.  And the mother seemed thrilled that she got the award.  I suspect they made that award up in order to reel her in, but that's just my opinion. 

Seriously, though,  watch this show if you want to feel better about your own obsessions, because anything you do and spend your money on cannot be worse than this. 




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