Toddlers & Tiaras

TV review by
Anne Louise Bannon, Common Sense Media
Toddlers & Tiaras TV Poster Image
Child beauty pageant series sends iffy messages.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 18 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 60 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The importance of physical beauty, especially as it relates to a child's success, is discussed. Children sometimes appear sexualized by their costumes or performance. Discipline, practice, and working hard to attain goals are also topics of discussion.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some parents believe that pageants will lead to scholarships or Hollywood careers, others are simply continuing a family tradition, or supporting their child's interest in them. Stage parenting is common; occasionally a child is shown being forced to perform. Children sometimes act bratty or demonstrate poor sportsmanship when losing an event. Parents, especially moms, are often shown criticizing other parents, judges, and their own kids for poor performances. Both girls and boys participate in pageants.

Violence

Some contestants are mean to each other. Parents sometimes yell at kids, scream at their coaches, stylists, etc., and threaten to punch, slap, and/or hurt directors, judges, and other parents. Occasionally police officers are called to keep the peace.

Sex

Costumes range from one piece swimsuits to dressing up in a cone bra and garters like Madonna. One infamous episode features a contestant dressed in a prostitute's costume like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. The children often move their hips and jiggle around for performances; not everyone thinks this is appropriate.

Language

Words like "hell" and "bitch" audible; stronger words are bleeped.

Consumerism

Logos are blurred, but parents discuss and feed their children Mountain Dew, Pixie Sticks, and even Red Bull energy drinks.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References are made to to mothers taking medications to stay calm, and children being given prescriptive medication to control their ADHD. One contestant smokes a prop cigarette on stage as part of her act.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byolaa89 April 18, 2012

IF THERE WAS ONLY A WAY TO STOP THIS TERRIBLE SHOW!

I've seen bits and parts of the show but never lasted longer than 15 minutes.. Those insane mothers brainwash their own kids! How sad is that?! No wonder t... Continue reading
Adult Written bychapirl February 24, 2011

ridiculous

Most of the mothers here should be charged with child abuse from plucking eyebrows to infant drinking soda and coffee. Just what we need parents making kids loo... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byCaitie11 December 12, 2012

Oh My Goodness...

I feel sorry for these kids. These kids are going to grow up thinking they are the prettiest in the world. I bet they won't have friends when they grow up.... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old April 4, 2012

Worst Show Ever. TLC should take it off.

Ok, this is the worst show I had ever watched. I MEAN... PUTTING MAKE-UP ON KIDS AS YOUNG AS 1?!?!?! And they gossip to much.. And, moms cuss each other out and... Continue reading

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?

TV details

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