A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Toddlers & Tiaras is all about child beauty pageants, but there's a lot of focus on their parents'/guardians' outrageous behavior, too. The series has also seen its share of controversy thanks to its emphasis on physical beauty, and some of the contestants' inappropriate costumes and/or behavior. There is some talk about practice and hard work, but most of the focus is on looking good and winning crowns. Questionable parenting techniques are highlighted and parents often come off looking bad, especially when they exhibit snarky behavior towards each other. There's some bleeped vocab, and it should be noted that later episodes of the series has some audible salty language ("bitch," "hell") and features parents making violent threats against directors, judges, and other parents. References are also made to taking prescription medications.
What's the story?
TODDLERS & TIARAS is a documentary-style look at the world of child beauty pageants. With limited subtitles identifying just the place and who's speaking, the stories are told by the children, parents, coaches, and the occasional judge. Each episode focuses on a different pageant, and follows a handful of contestants as they perfect their clothes, hair, make-up, and routines to create the perfect pageant look. Once at the venue, the contestants take the stage and try to demonstrate the poise, grace, and beauty necessary to take the title, cash, and the big crown. After it's all over both the children and their parents offer their thoughts about their overall experience, and the plans they have for the next one.
Is it any good?
The controversial series offers a behind-the-scenes look into what children's beauty pageants are like and what contestants have to do in order to have a competitive edge, including gluing on fake eyelashes, wearing dresses worth thousands of dollars, and endlessly practicing beauty walks and professionally choreographed routines. It also highlights some of the parents' over-the-top behavior as they prepare their children for each pageant and guide them during the competition.
Thanks to some of the children's revealing and/or over-sexualized costumes (worn with their parents' approval), the show has received its fair share of criticism. The messages it sends about the importance of physical beauty is pretty questionable, too. Some folks will find what they see to be exploitative, while others will find it voyeuristically entertaining. Either way, think carefully about the messages that kids might take away from watching.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about beauty pageants, particularly those featuring young children. What standards of beauty are they based on? How do you think participating in (or just watching) these competitions impacts kids?
Families can also discuss how it changes a reality/documentary show when there's no narrator explaining what's going on. Does it make a difference when a show is told in the voices of the participants? Does that make a difference in your opinion of the pageants?
Why do parents agree to participate in this show? What do they stand to gain or lose?
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