In honor of Halloween, I thought it would be appropriate to write about something scary. And I can think of few things scarier than pageant moms.
I was blissfully unaware of their continued existence in the post Jon Benet era, until a regular reader suggested I Google "Anderson Cooper" along with "toddler" and "tiara."
Watching the segment was like watching the proverbial train wreck. I wanted to walk away and pretend I never saw it, but I couldn't tear my eyes from the spectacle on my screen.
Let's step back a bit. The three pageant moms featured on Anderson's show star, along with their tarted up tots, on a popular so-called reality program on the most ludicrously named network on cable television. Of course, the producers edit and encourage extreme behavior. What scared me most was that, even dialed back fifty per cent, these parents would remain utterly reprehensible.
Evidently, a segment of the population sees nothing wrong with dressing kindergarten age girls like hookers.
Why mince words?
These moms were giddy with the excitement of parading their daughters on national television in outfits including one called "Vegas showgirl" and a mini-version of Julia Roberts' now iconic streetwalker get up from the blockbuster Pretty Woman. That dress, with its bare midriff, and the shiny over the knee boots are almost as recognizable as Michael Jackson's Thriller garb. Not that the third mom was any better. She had her pre-kindergartner prancing on the stage in a costume reminiscent of a sexually pliable bar wench.
All three moms freaked when accused of sexualizing their daughters. One went as far as to make retching noises at the assertion that her kid might be garnering the wrong kind of attention.
The moms unanimously defended the pageants as a way to teach their children poise and as venues to practice music and dance. Right. And I'm Miss Universe. These kids were precocious - no question.
However, none of the three featured kids could carry a tune. And they'd clearly learn more about poise by trying out for a play, or dance by enrolling in ballet class.
One of the girls elicited an unforgettable face from Anderson when she did a song and dance about "shake my booty." Her mom defended the act as harmless fun. The third girl prowled the stage like a stripper eager for tips.
It seems so obvious to me that these girls are motivated by a need to please their mothers, a trio of washed up women who would have been better off purchasing Barbie dolls than reproducing.
Indeed, these kids are so desperate to please their mothers that they submit to physical pain to satisfy the demands of this twisted world.
For the record, if you cannot swat your kid in public for misbehaving, you should clearly NOT be allowed to WAX your toddler for cosmetic effect. I'm pretty sure that if I marched the Grape to the playground across the street and started yanking his hair out by the roots, some bystander would alert a police officer.
Therefore I'm comfortable going on the record saying that waxing a toddler or elementary schooler, even a tragically hairy one, is child abuse.
These girls aren't just waxed in the name of beauty. They're spray-tanned. They endure marathon hair and make-up sessions. Some wear fake boobs. (But the moms don't think this sexualizes them, so it must be okay.) And let's not even talk about how much outdoor and/or imaginative play time these kids waste primping and preening.
Some of audience members criticized the moms for the cash outlay required for pageant participation. Yes, the numbers sounded obscene, but I'm not going to bash them for investing in kids' interests per se. Plenty of parents of artists, musicians and athletes make great financial sacrifices to support their children's pursuits. The parents of true prodigies sometimes relocate the entire family to be close to the virtuoso, coach or ski hill that will take their prodigy to the elite level. (Important Side Note: If you have to ask whether your kid is a prodigy, he or she is not.)
What troubles me about the six figure cash outlay for pageants is the disgusting message these little girls hear from the cradle (all three girls started out in infant pageants)onward: Your most important asset is your sex appeal.
I'm normally a fan of live and let live. I believe there are horses for courses, so to speak. If adult women want to objectify themselves, I suppose that's their prerogative.
But kiddie beauty pageants exploit little girls in a vile way, and in my view, the world would be a better place without them.