The Crimson Connection

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The Origins of Societal Burdens

An joint English Dual Credit Essay contributed by Sydney Dutel and Abigail Hinton

© TLC

© TLC

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Eight year old, Daisey Mae, was filmed preparing for and participating in a pageant in a 2012 episode of the reality TV show, Toddlers and Tiaras. Toddlers and Tiaras is a show that follows contestants and their parents as they prepare for pageants: practicing routines and receiving skin or hair treatments, and the pageants themselves. Contestants often appear spoiled, and parents often appear controlling and apathetic to their child’s opinions. Occasionally when a child does not want to participate, his or her parents will bribe or force them to carry through.

In being interviewed before a pageant, Mae states what she believes, saying ‘facial beauty is the most important thing in life.’ Her statement denounces things considered universally important, such as family and community. Mae looks just as young as she is, and her room is decorated with dolls, but in the background of one shot, pageant crowns are displayed from other competitions, showing that she had previous experience in pageants before this episode.

Multiple viewers of the show were shocked by May’s blatancy and honesty in her statement, and questioned if she seriously felt family and friends were less important. Many critics believe that parents are simply living their own lives through their children by dressing them up as dolls and training them as models. Many onlookers of the show also see the competitions, and pageants in general, as a form of child abuse. And if not to call this that extreme, they are in the least hurting their children in some way. Most of the parents (moms in most cases) on the show justify their actions as they themselves were brought up into the pageant community.  Many pageant parents also claim that they are entering their children in pageants because their child wanted to, or to increase their child’s confidence. This may be true, however; it is the parent’s responsibility to still care for their child in so that they may live out their childhood, and not force them into a constant world of sexualization and child abuse.

Solely based on how Mae and other children act on the show- and we acknowledge that this may all be for publicity- most of them act self-centered and care mostly about the prize rather than the experience. If this behavior continues throughout their whole childhood, more likely than not these children will grow up without proper social etiquette, and unknowingly these parents will have raised incompetent children. After having their lives driven by their parents, most of these pageant children will have social problems in their future. While they are receiving lots of positive attention from their parents and audiences, they are becoming narcissistic, a quality that they will carry into their adult lives. Psychological effects of the pageants can cause the girls (and in some cases boys) to develop eating disorders, and the sexualization of children at such an early age may also lead to discomfort with their own bodies.

Whenever children learn that their physical appearance is more important than anything else and that others should be mandating their lives for them, their generation is doomed to conceitedness. In the United States, eight to ten percent of ten year old girls have already dieted because of the  pressure of today’s society. While it is sad that they are not confident in their own identity, what is truly tragic is that they are not using their time to benefit society but trying to perfect themselves, a feat that can never be achieved. Social problems such as poverty, crime, and the separation of families are issues that will sit without attention as generations prance about and try to solve self-made problems.

    Daisey Mae is just one of the many girls that has to experience this world of unattainable beauty standards. Even with children that do not have to live in a world of pageants, and dieting, and of over-sexualization, they are still forced to conform to standards that many adults cannot even meet, such as feats of social standing. Even in my own life, one of absolutely no pageants, I still have in the ingrained ideals that I will never be enough.  This world we live in may never change, yet the children that live within it still have a chance. If children never have to experience this kind of conformity, they could live for a greater society rather than themselves.

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About the Writer
AbigailH, Staff Reporter
I am a senior and staff reporter for the Crimson Connection. I enjoy creative writing, photography and playing golf. I spend most of my time focusing on schoolwork, reading fiction and listening to new alternative rock music. I am hoping to get a degree in English or history after graduating.
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The Origins of Societal Burdens