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Should Child Beauty Pageants Be Banned?

We’ve talked about TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras here at Good Enough Mother before – but since the new season launched over the holidays the show seems to be reaching a whole new level of shocking!

Just this week we saw two-year-old Mia who started her routine in an angel costume and ended up as Madonna, circa 1990, in a bright yellow cone bra. Now remember that outfit was made famous on the Blonde Ambition world tour and was worn as Madonna performed Like A Virgin and simulated masturbation on a bed! Even if you don’t remember the performance it’s still a two year old in a pointy bra, playing the most sexualized pop star ever! What was her mom thinking…?

Well you know I like to speak my mind so I was happy to appear on CNN’s Headline News on Friday to give my opinion on Mia’s outfit and Toddlers and Tiaras in general. Host Vinnie Politan led the debate, which featured Brooke Anderson from CNN’s Showbiz Tonight and Mia’s mother, herself Tina Grande. As you can imagine, there was no shortage of opinion, or fireworks – here’s a clip of what went down…

So it’s pretty clear where I stand on this issue but I want to hear from you. Do you think there should be an age limit on child beauty pageants and much more stringent rules on what kids can wear?

Or is it all harmless fun and just a case of kids playing dress up without realizing what they’re doing?

Weigh in everyone – it’s gonna be a good one!


  1. Anne Marie

    January 16, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Legally banned? I doubt it. But, it’s unfortunate that the administration which oversees the pagent structure (if there is one) hasn’t recognized the need for age limits…that would be a start in the right direction.

  2. Karen Scott

    January 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Beauty pageants should be banned up until at least the age of 13. These mothers are blatantly living vicariously through their daughters. Kids should be able to be kids. Playing dress up is one thing, but these poor little girls sometimes end up looking like little porn stars!

  3. David Freeman

    January 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    This is a tough one to call, it really is. At heart, I do find it a bit creepy and do think she is living somewhat vicariously through her kids “risky”/risque behavior, (how about spending time educating her kid and herself instead?). And I’ve seen clips from shows where kids do NOT seem happy to be there. But this little girl does seem to be genuinely smiling and is blissfully unaware of the hyper-sexualized atmosphere that we who put it down, yell about all the time. (The thing is, I still think its true, that there is something hyper CREEPY! about it.) But in an age when many parents do not have much quality time with their kids, that has to be looked at too. I don’t think I really know enough about the entire situation to judge this one family too harshly. But why do I feel like I need a shower?

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  5. M.E. Johnson

    January 16, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    It won’t stop. Gerbers had a baby contest back in 19-uh-uh. I’d like to hear from some of those babies who are now adults. I think of Jon Benet Ramsey and can just imagine the perverts going bat**** crazy with delight.

    I think not only are some parents living their own dream but they are living financially off the children. Whew… a sorry state of affairs.

  6. Dave Johnson

    January 16, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Rene I totally 100% agree with you on this. I’m watching you on HLN Prime News and you’re right. This is unacceptable and these girls should not be doing these pageants. Thanks for speaking against this.

  7. Irene

    January 16, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    I think it was irresponsible of TLC to air this footage…they are no stranger to exploitation but this takes it up a notch…

    Thanks Rene for speaking up!

  8. Dani

    January 29, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    You’re dead on with the “mothers living vicariously through their daughters” statement. It’s similar to stage moms who drag their kids to acting or singing auditions. They wanted to be a movie star, but are past their prime, so now their child becomes the “savior” that will make them rich and famous. Many of these kids are taken advantage of by directors, sometimes sexually and other times simply by the nature of what they’re asked to do, or say, on screen. It’s all quite sickening.

  9. Auntie Lisa

    January 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I agree that it’s a problem. If the kids actually enjoyed it, the atmosphere was wholesome/safe… AND age-appropriate attire and behavior was stressed and enforced, then maybe it works. (But how do you control that??)

    The same goes for any performing arts or costume types of events (dance recitals, Halloween, stage plays, karaoke, parades, etc.).

    And if I may take it a step further… the parents need to model appropriate attire as well… if mom runs around looking like Madonna, what do you think her daughters will want to do?

  10. Gloria Taylor

    June 14, 2011 at 8:51 am

    I too was appalled on the video I just saw about the 2 yrs old Mia in a pagaent. Really what was her mother thinking apparently she wasn’t! I agree with some of the other comments children under the age of 10 yrs old should not be able to participate in any type of performance as this little girl, Mia did. Rules should definitely be change immediately!

  11. Jamie

    July 10, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I found this article while googling info on a natural beauty pageant for my daughter. I refuse to do the makeup and all that jazz. My daughter is beautiful the way she is. But she likes to dress up. I think kids should have a dress code and a no make up rule until they’re a certain age.

    Anyways. Then upon further research what is NOT shown in this interview and what the mother didn’t say, is that this little girl TRIED TO WALK OFF THE STAGE. She didn’t want to do it anymore and she walked her back up there and tried to encourage her hip shaking, the little girl kept grabbing the cones. This is clearly not something a 2 year old had the slightest interest in whatsoever. The Mother should be ashamed of herself. She’s 2, NOT 22!

  12. Joss

    September 30, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Little girls are cute, why do the mothers feel the need to dress them like whores? What’s the reason that the pageant judges are choosing the sluttiest looking child as their winner? The problem is less with the parents than with the judges. If the judges changed their idea of cute and had some semblance of normalcy in their decision making skills the parents wouldnt be hyper sexualizing their babies for profit. The system is completely out of control. It’s like watching a train wreck and I’m just thankful I’m not stupid enough to participate.

  13. Joss

    September 30, 2011 at 9:34 am

    @auntie Lisa. You mean I have to put away MY gold sequence cone bra onsie?!

  14. PiecesOfEight

    September 30, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I think all these types of things are deleterious to society

  15. Melinda

    September 30, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Even if I was crazy enough to put my kid in a hooker costume, jack her up on red bull and pixie stix and force her to gyrate for a bunch of pedophiles who were crafty enough to fill out an application to be a pageant judge, my husband would never let me do it. He takes his job of “keeping the kid off the pole” very seriously. Thanks, Chris Rock.

  16. Pageantgirl

    October 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Seriously? Who cares, I’ve been doing pageants since I was 5, I loved them and my mom was cool, sure she made sure I was gorgeous but she didn’t act crazy. This show misrepresents pageants, 99 percent of ppl dont act crazy , but that 1 percent makes excellent tv. Would you guys be talking about it if the girls you saw on there were laughing and happy? No. If you don’t want your kids to do them simply don’t put them in one. And stop worrying ab everyone else.

  17. Rene Syler

    October 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    @Pageantgirl: Um, we weren’t “worried”, it was a question for debate, something mature individuals do. And you were right there with us, presenting a decent argument, until the very end.

  18. Paula Costa

    October 20, 2011 at 9:08 am

    I don’t understand how you can use your own child like that. I wish there was a law to protect these little girls. it breaks my heart to see this. How can she call herself a mother? I feel so sorry for this and all the other girls who have mothers like that.

  19. Fatima Ceesay

    November 14, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    listen i know this is wrong but i think that patgeants are really cute and fun the kids usually have a great time but that girls mom was just wrong but dont stereotype pageants like thatI love to watch the little girls show there beauty and there cuteness
    the mothers never really FORCE the kids to do this
    the kids most of the time like it
    i have seen episodes where the moom asks the kid do you like pageants or do you want to keep doing them and they always say yes i love them
    if you are against oageants then how about you don’t enter them and let this be their own buisness
    pageants are really good
    forget the tanning and the breast pads and that picture up there look @ some glitz photos i really think they enhance a girls beauty
    pageants are not terrible at all
    how do i know?
    i have been in them for 12 years and have won 19,000 dollars cash!!!!

  20. mark

    December 28, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    no… they schould not be banned

    but parents schould be banned who force theire kids to do something they dont want. in sport there are doping tests.. so why not something similar here?

  21. denise

    May 14, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    I don’t think the pageant should be banned however I do feel the children should be judged on their natural beauty and talents, not fake tans,eye lashes, hair, makeup and costumes that are inappropriate for their ages….I refuse to watch this show because of the things these “parents” make these poor little children go through. They should be ashamed of themselves children are beautiful with out any of that crap, let them show their natural beauty and stop dressing them up like little porcelain dolls.. How can any of this stuff these kids go through not be considered as child endangerment…come on who in their right mind would spray tan a child let alone a toddler….It’s sickening and the channel that airs this show should be embarrassed and ashamed for promoting such a show

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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