Lately, my 5-year-old daughter has been fascinated with the television show, "Toddlers and Tiaras." In case you haven't found time to catch this spectacle of human indecency, please don't feel that you're missing something educational or worthwhile. In fact, I'll do my best to sum up a typical episode in as few sentences as possible.
A pageant mom or dad pushes a child to perform onstage. They dress these show kids in slightly inappropriate sequined outfits and slap on layers of make-up that would be considered too much for a "Glamour Shots" session. The children are usually spoiled brats and the parents are, more often than not, living vicariously through their child while in constant denial that they are forcing them to wear fake eyelashes.
In one show, the mother swore her daughter loved getting a spray-on tan. The girl was about 2-years old and naturally pale. Since the mom had a friend who worked at an auto paint shop, that's where she took her to get tans. I guess it's just a simple matter of changing out the chemicals. I'm not making this up.
The kid was running away screaming and the mom was just baffled that her little angel wasn't cooperating because she usually just loved getting this done. Really?
My daughter is immune to all of the obvious dysfunctional family issues the show presents; instead, she gets stars in her eyes when she sees the stage and the performances. She puts on her prettiest church dress, places a plastic crown on her head, and practices her pageant walk while smiling and waving to an imaginary crowd.
Last Saturday we had the privilege of seeing a real live pageant at the Hardee County Fairgrounds. My niece was selected by her second grade class to participate and have a chance to be crowned as the 2012 Princess.
My sister had been preparing her for the last two months; there was paperwork involved and pictures to purchase from a specific studio and an evening gown that had to touch the floor or else points would be deducted. It was mind-boggling how much went into a kid's beauty pageant and this wouldn't even include pushy parents and talent competitions like the crazy reality show.
The night of the event, we walked into the civic center, which must have had their air conditioner set at around 32 degrees because I swear I could see my breath. This was when I realized almost every second grade class in the county had nominated a Prince and Princess, which made up 54 contestants. That meant that 54 times the audience heard some kid answer the question, "If you had a million dollars, what two things would you buy?" One kid said, "A bunch of clean underwear and hot dogs!" That was the best answer.
At the end of the night, about four hours of my life had been stolen and my niece did not have a crown, but she was smiling so big you wouldn't have known it. I guess that's what made all those kids so different from the "Toddlers and Tiaras" children, they truly had a good time.
My daughter wants more than ever to get onstage. Maybe I'm the perfect mix of parent for her. I would never force her to do it, but if she wants to, I'll sit in an uncomfortable chair for hours until I lose feeling in my legs while I let her shine.