Friday, September 9, 2011

5 Lessons From Toddlers & Tiaras

Toddlers and Tiaras is one of those shows I watch that simultaneously horrifies and fascinates me. I'm cringing the whole time, but I can't look away.

You can learn a lot by watching the show, and I'm talking about more than the creative spellings of the name Michaela. (Mikayla, Makayla, Micaylah, Mikaila, Mukayluh, Mikado, etc.) It's the pageant version of Gaddafi.

Mostly what I've learned has to do with how much I got wrong as a parent. I thought I did all right, but I had no idea what I was doing. So, as a service to you all, here are just a few of the lessons I've learned:

1. If your child is sleepy, give her Pixy Sticks and energy drinks.

And there was the six-year-old who drank Red Bull from a bottomless sippy cup. They bleeped out the brand name, but it was clear what she was saying:

"I want my Red Bull!"

"I'm on my fifth Red Bull!"

"Where'd all those spiders come from?!"

So, they're learning early that if you need a pick-me-up, grab a drink or a white powdery substance. This can't possibly turn out badly.

2. Children cry and throw themselves to the floor to show enjoyment.

Pageant detractors complain that parents are living vicariously through their children, and that the way they're raising their kids is borderline abusive. But over and over again we hear the parents argue, "We're doing this for her" and "She loves pageants."

Witness the joy:

3. Dress as a prostitute to be rewarded with jewelry and money.

I don't mean that they're just wearing skimpy outfits; I mean a contestant on this week's episode was dressed as Julia Roberts' character in Pretty Woman. You know, when she played a hooker. I wish I were making this up.

And it worked. This contestant went on to win the Grand Supreme title. Even more disturbing was her trophy for "Most likely to shack up with Richard Gere."

Say it with me, kids: "Big mistake. Huge."

4. I know nothing about investing.

Pageants give cash prizes! $1,000 sometimes! Yes, the dresses cost a few thousand, and there are coaches, entry fees, hair extensions, makeup artists, hairdressers, and custom made "flippers" to hide the hideous gaps created when kids dare to lose their baby teeth, but if it all comes together in a glittery harmonic convergence and your child wins the pageant, it was all worth it.

5. Babies should be tan.

Just look at this picture from when my daughter was a toddler:

I'm sorry, I should have warned you how terrifying that would be. I mean, look how pale she is. And that outfit does nothing for her figure. But I didn't know any better. I never took her to a tanning salon. It was a long time ago, and I feel comfortable telling you people now.

Here's what I should have been doing:

It's too late for me, but I speak out now to save the spray tans of the future. If I can save just one toddler from walking around with embarrassingly pasty-white skin, then my journey here has meant something.

And if my time here has been worthless, I have my Pixy Sticks and Red Bull to keep me company.


  1. Don't you, as a writer, feel like if you wrote a book about the world of children's beauty pageants before this show came out, you'd hear the term 'suspension of disbelief' from a lot of people.

  2. Yes, I'm sure it would've seemed way too unrealistic.

  3. Not to worry, Jillian-- boys participate too!

  4. Oh Lord, there are no words.

    Being a parent is hard enough as it is! Why deal with the flippers and tans and dresses and lessons and sugar-crash tantrums? No thank you.

    Hilarious post, BTW. Your poor daughter. So pale!

  5. Thud! I guess I'm thankful I haven't heard of this until now. Let me go crawl back into my cave ...