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Have we lost our minds?

The other night while channel surfing, my husband and I came across what turned out to be a video clip from the television show, “Tots and Tiaras”. With my mouth hanging open, I watched in horror as a child known as Honey Boo Boo strutted across the stage, wiggling, jiggling and strutting her six-year-old body parts.
My aversion to young girls parading in beauty contests and pageants goes many years back to when a friend’s daughter simply loved to enter these events. At the age of five, she had trophies that towered above her head. In the audience were mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings watching these little girls, all doodled up, walk across a stage, turn and give what was often a fake and plastered smile. To be fair, what was promoted over 30 years ago was nothing in comparison to what has now entered our homes and computers via the Internet. Personally, I find the whole concept extremely derogatory.
I forced myself to sit through an entire episode of “Tots and Tiaras” and somehow managed to get through it without yelling at the television. I know that I am the mother of three sons and this type of activity never remotely entered our household. It appeared that often the mothers were more excited than the children that often wiggled around while their baby hair was teased and coifed and a barrage of beauty products were used to make them dazzle and appear like tiny models. Some of these hopefuls were mere babies, as young as six months old. Honestly, what six-month-old baby wants to be in a beauty pageant? Surely not that same child whose eyebrows were just made a bit darker and enhanced so they would stand out when she was on stage.
This particular show focused in on a few girls, some who enjoyed the pageants and others who knew their moms wanted them to participate in these contests. “They need to look perfect,” one mother cooed as she put the finishing touches on her daughter. What are we expecting of these girls? What are we teaching them? What are we teaching them to expect of themselves? Are beauty and looks more important than who they are, what they do and how they treat others?
I watched in disgust as these little girls entered a tanning tent where they were sprayed to appear as though they had a perfect tan. They were decked out in heavy eyeliner, eye shadow and mascara and had their hair fixed fit for a queen. The mothers even mentioned fake teeth. Wait, I almost forgot the fake fingernails. There has to be something wrong here. This cannot be normal behavior. The youngest of girls were still in diapers and I would bet some of the toddlers still wear pull-ups to bed.
I believe what really made me the most upset was watching these children prance around the stage, turn their heads to the side in a flirtatious pose, baring their midriff and batting their eyelashes while flirting with the judges, all the while their mothers were coaxing them from their sideline seats out in the audience. One loud mother was standing and demonstrating the moves she wanted her child to mimic as she called out, “Come on, shake it.”
Why can’t kids be kids? Do we have to wonder when children are encouraged to look like miniature adults why the teenage pregnancy rate is so high? Why must we make them into something they aren’t? It’s time to let children be children and enjoy who they are. They are grown and gone before we know it.