And The Emmy of Secret Shamefulness Goes To…

Every little girls dream...and source of endless therapy.

Some of my TV viewing habits are a secret source of shame to me.  One show is so horrible I can’t even share it in the sanctity of the confessional.  But I know I can tell you.

I am hooked on “Toddlers & Tiaras.” 

In case you don’t watch crass, commercial television, here’s the Cliffs Notes version.  The show follows young girls (and babies) as they prepare for and compete in beauty pageants.  This hobby/money-making scheme/soul-destroying endeavor seems to be practiced primarily in the American South.

Many of the pageants are what they call “full glitz”.  That means the little girls try their mightiest to look like adult women, although not any women I’ve seen in real life.  They put on tons of make-up, have their hair teased up a mile, and wear poufy, sequined dresses.  Some even wear fake teeth called “flippers”.  These give them perfect, white smiles that mask the fact that they are missing teeth because, well, they’re really children.

If you took Dolly Parton 30 years ago at her Grand Ole Opry best, shorten the dress, add white patent leather shoes and ruffled ankle socks and subtract the bosoms, you would have the Ultimate Grand Supreme, which is the highest title.

For me, the family dynamics are the most interesting thing about the show.  They tend to fall into three type relationships:





And A Little Child Shall Lead Them

Plain, fat, can’t believe  this beautiful child came out of her

Deer-in-the-headlights, spineless

Rule-the-roost, tantrum throwing monster

In It To Win It

Thin, intense stage Mommy Dearest

Absent, always at work to pay for/avoid the whole business

Too skinny perfectionist heading for eating disorder or self mutilation


Won’t This Be Fun?

Well-meaning, clueless

Doting, clueless

Sweet kid who will be devastated to be one of only 3 girls in the room not to get a crown

  A couple of days before a big pageant, the moms take their little ones to the salon and spend the mortgage money on the works – hair, nails, spray tan.  Sometimes an eyebrow waxing is in order.   The Tiny Supreme-hopeful screams in excitement for the coming treat.

Pageant day is packed with activities, and little beauty queens start to droop at naptime.   The savvy pageant mom keeps Pixie Sticks and Red Bull handy to take care of that problem, and provide a wholesome meal for a growing body.     

They even have their own language. 

Many of the type 1 mothers refer to their daughters as divas.  The dictionary defines a diva as: a usually glamorous and successful female performer or personality.  This really confused me at first, because the moms were talking about 4-year-olds with no discernible talents.  Then I figured out that in pageant world, diva is actually a secret code word for: a child whose parents have totally given up any control, let her do whatever she wants, thus turning her into a spoiled, mean brat.  The moms seem to be proud of this.  Didn’t that used to be a bad thing?

Like Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy disease, those pushing pageants are almost always moms.  But sometimes the dad is the driving force.   Even Tom Hanks is hooked on the exciting world of pageants, as he explained to Jimmy Kimmel. 

I’m only sorry I didn’t discover this hobby when my girls were small.  It would have been a wonderful mother/daughter bonding experience.  And I just know both my divas would have loved it. 

Oh well, someday I might have grandkids!

About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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40 Responses to And The Emmy of Secret Shamefulness Goes To…

  1. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    As I think would be the case of many things, I enjoyed your synopsis of this more than I enjoyed the few minutes of the show I’ve seen. My skin wouldn’t stop crawling for that, but this way? I get a little bit of the filtered experience, colored by your perception. That I can handle!


  2. Seasweetie says:

    As a fellow Trashy TV Anonymous member, I will admit to spending an afternoon watching episode after episode of this show in utter disbelief.


  3. Jackie says:

    I’ve watched this show in shame as well, and though I find the mothers who put their children through this to be frightening, I am far more terrified by the children who enjoy it.

    Those flippers are creepy.


  4. Tar-Buns says:

    Spot on, Peg. I must admit to having seen a few of these shows, but not regularly. It is shameful what they put those children through. I’m hoping they have one of those follow-up shows 10 years later to see what these girls have become as teenagers. Are they still brats? In therapy? Do the parents still have the house? Still married? We’ll see…


    • Tar-Buns says:

      By the way, I could not open the TOm Hanks clip.


      • pegoleg says:

        OMG, last night’s show had a little kid from Bay City on! I was practically hopping up and down in my chair when they showed the downtown. Sorry you couldn’t open the video. Check it out on You tube – it’s hysterical.


        • Tar-Buns says:

          Actually the little boy was featured on the local news but I didn’t see it until today.

          Been watching Grand Rapids TV stations since 7pm when I started following the killing of seven people and looking for the suspect. Then we watched the car chase on 131 and I-96 before the creep burst into someone’s home and is still holding hostages. Very creepy. And, MK’s in BC so I called to let her know. Close to 4mile and I-96. She was going to call Katie. Scarey…. and still going on now at 10:35pm, full live coverage on TV and in the press.


  5. Jane says:

    Wait a minute! Aren’t you the same woman who confessed to having a secret crush on Charles Krauthammer? You sure have a varity of interests, Peg-o-leg….or, maybe we should call you Hard-to-Peg?


  6. Cheryl says:

    My ex husband’s Tennessee kin were into the pageants. Salita (the cousin) put her diva daughter, Starr, into pageants. Sadly Starr didn’t make the big time. Last I knew Salita got a job as a prison guard where she met and married a prisoner (I’m totally not kidding) and Starr had a child at age 16. Sadly that child was the smartest of the whole bunch so who knows, maybe the cycle will be broken.


    • pegoleg says:

      Wow. That would make a great reality show by itself: “Toddlers & Tiaras: 10 years Later” I hate to say it, but I suspect a higher-than-normal percentage of the pageant population would be involved in adult entertainment.


  7. Toddlers & Tiaras is a delicious train wreck. One of the best parts is watching the MC of the Little Miss Perfect Competition sing the theme song. Even the two year olds are embarrassed.


    • pegoleg says:

      You are so right. When that creepily-botoxed guy gets down on their level to sing to them, I bet the kids’ “stranger-danger” radar goes crazy.


  8. Tori Nelson says:

    I’ve written about this show… and people are shocked I watch it. But who doesn’t need a little reminder that she’s a great mom every once in awhile? Nothing makes me feel more fit as a parent than seeing a 3-year-old getting a spray tan 🙂


  9. I can’t bring myself to watch it… I have too many strong opinions about what should happen to those parents. But the title reminds me of the biopic Elton John did: “Tantrums & Tiaras.” That, I’d watch!


  10. bigsheepcommunications says:

    I watch more than my fair share of shameful tv and I have watched this on occasion, but I can’t seem to watch without screaming, “WOULD SOMEBODY PLEASE CALL CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES?!”


  11. MKC says:

    This show doesn’t do much for me but the Tom Hanks video was great.


  12. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    I don’t hold it against you at all, because I know that your interest in it is pure, unadulterated watching-a-train-wreck horror. We all partake in our dirty little secrets once in a while. Of course, now yours is out there for all to witness. For another hilarious take on it, watch “Little Miss Sunshine.”

    Wonderful synopsis and description of the family types. Very well done and a huge laugh!


  13. Big Al says:

    You nailed it with your spreadsheet about the 3 main characters in this travesty of sexually exploited cherubs.I know what you mean about the train wreck. If I come across this during my surfing sessions my clicker finger freezes. Just another bit of evidence that the apocalypse is nigh.


    • pegoleg says:

      It’s all about the moms living vicariously through their kids. No 4-year-old decides to be a pageant queen. They might come to enjoy it, though, because most little girls like to play dress-up. But if they don’t win, it can be devastating.


  14. missumerica says:

    Oooh!! Wanna do something REALLY fun?!? I have actually given MAKEOVERS to some of these little princesses. I mean, I haven’t actually done any that have been on the show (that I KNOW of) but they are LOADS of fun! The mamas are DYNAMITE too! Lemme know if you ever wanna come along and get your kicks in real life. If you laugh out loud though, I’m gonna send you to the bathroom/office in the back because they are big $$ spenders. (Our store is small so the bathroom & office are one in the same. G.L.A.M.O.U.R.O.U.S!)


    • pegoleg says:

      Wow – somebody who is in the business! I bet you have some interesting stories to tell.

      One one hand, little girls have been playing dress-up and trying to look like mommy forever – that’s how children learn, through role playing. On the other hand, the emphasis on looks, looks, looks at such young ages can’t be good for these girls.


  15. I can’t even stomach the commercials!


  16. The "rooster" says:

    Odd how in the “natural world,” the male of most species is festooned with the greater allotment of plumage. Cock-a-doodle-doo!


    • pegoleg says:

      That’s true – the female is drab to protect her from predators, and the male is brightly colored to attract the female. Interesting change from people, hmm?


  17. Marija sKeri says:

    I like how you describe this show and characters of the people involved in it. Almost sounds like a great show… but it’s not! This wont be my kind of show never-ever. I would cut my hand instead to put make up and all this fake eyelashes, hair etc. on my (sometimes in the future) baby-daughter! I’m sure there is many other mother/daughter bonding activities, much funnier and better for the kid’s mental health (and in this case even my mental health!) :DD


    • pegoleg says:

      You are so right. The dress-up part of it is harmless- little girls always like to do that – but so many of these parents get too near or cross over the line into “sexy”. That word doesn’t belong in the same sentence with a 6-year-old child.


  18. Sandy Sue says:

    OMG, Tom Hanks is SO my hero (did you see his new movie with Julia Roberts? I adore the man).

    I hate to encourage child abuse by watching the show, but it’s just as fascinating as Horders and a juicy episode of Criminal Minds. Our Gawker-Slow-Down gene must be dominant.


  19. Pingback: Life Has Meaning Once More | Peg-o-Leg's Ramblings

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