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Small Wonders: Down a runway toward destruction

September 16, 2011|By Patrick Caneday

Ever since M*A*S*H went off the air, I’ve been a little disillusioned with TV.

That’s not to say I don’t watch, or like, certain TV shows: “30 Rock” and “Modern Family” stand out. While channel surfing, I will stop and view random mind-numbing programs with a measure of unabashed shame and guilt.

“Keeping Up With the Kardashians” comes to mind. But only because I like Bruce Jenner. “Project Runway” because my wife likes to watch it. “Hillbilly Handfishin’” because, well, damn, they pull 40-pound catfish out of muddy rivers with their hands. What’s not to like about that?

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But there is one show I simply cannot stand, one show I find reprehensible, immoral and without redeeming value. I see no substantive reason for its being on the air and I blame not only the subjects of the show for the damage they do to society, but also the show’s producers and the television network behind it.

I find them all complicit in what I think should be a criminal activity.

That show is “Toddlers and Tiaras.”

It's gotten much attention lately for an episode in which one beauty pageant mother dressed her 3-year-old daughter in a prostitute outfit ala Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.”

The mom defended dressing her daughter as a lady of the night by saying it was meant to be cute and comical. She said that everyone in the audience understood that, and her daughter had no idea what she was dressed like.

But funny doesn’t make it right. A roomful of parents with the same questionable taste as you isn’t exactly the best focus group. And 3-year-olds shouldn’t have to know that dressing like a prostitute is wrong. You, the parent, are supposed to know that.

And it's not that I merely dislike the activity these parents have engaged their children in, or the business of child beauty pageantry. It repulses me.

For years, people have talked about the sexualizing of our children happening at a younger and younger age. Well, folks, we’ve hit rock bottom with this show.

Watch one episode and you’ll see small children squirming under the application of false eyelashes, hair extensions and contact lenses, not to mention bustiers, padded bras, false teeth, spray-on tans, high heels, bikinis and elaborate Vegas-style costumes. And all the while, attention-seeking parents holler directions and cheer their young ones down a runway to destruction.

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