Why Men Hate Toddlers and Tiaras

I love watching lowbrow reality television shows that I can claim are educational in nature. TLC (the cable television channel, not the awesome 90’s band—R.I.P. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes) is the king of such television programming. I mean, TLC is after all, an acronym for “The Learning Channel.”

And just look at some of the educational programs TLC brings us:
- Sister Wives, an insider’s view of a polygamist family, without all the pesky glamor of Big Love.
- Kate Plus 8, one woman’s desperate cry for fame after losing her husband to hair plugs and Ed Hardy.
- I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant (or as I like to call it: Scary Bedtime Stories for Your Promiscuous Teen) that, of course, educates viewers on what sex, denial, and bowel movements can trigger together.

But the crown jewel of TLC’s programming is undoubtedly Toddlers and Tiaras.

Toddlers and Tiaras is a reality-based TLC show about the lives of young beauty pageant contestants across the country. Each episode follows little girls (and a couple of little boys who have not yet discovered YouTube’s cruelty) throughout their journey as they prepare for and participate in a life-changing, but typically small town, beauty pageant.

courtesy of TLC


And I love it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I originally hail from the great State of Texas. I guess my Southern roots can’t help but embrace Toddlers and Tiaras. It’s engrained in me the same way country music always makes me crave a State Fair Corny Dog, or miss going on a sweaty-palmed Ferris Wheel ride with a middle school crush. I understand why a sparkly dress and big hair can be so important. I even had some friends that did pageants as a kid. Sure, I think the fake teeth and spray tans are a bit strange on a 3-year-old, but hey, I created a living worm farm when I was that age. What’s actually weirder, fake teeth or real worms? I’m gonna have to go with the worms here—and I never even got a plastic crown for my troubles.

So I obviously was not at all prepared for the negative reaction my boyfriend Matt had when viewing Toddlers and Tiaras with me for the first time. While I was laughing at some crazy pageant mom’s very existence, Matt kept shifting uncomfortably on the couch next to me. When I finally caught sight of his face, Matt was looking at the TV in disgust, as if he was watching someone make a hat out of a live baboon’s scrotum.

After much deep thought pondering Matt’s initial reaction, I’ve decided his discomfort (and the discomfort felt by all other, non-creepy, adult males) can best be categorized as the “Chris Hansen Effect.”

The show’s pageant contestants aka little girls are primped and painted until they more closely resemble an 18-year-old, rather than any ordinary 8-year-old. They are also taught to be disturbingly sexy and flirtatious when onstage. The result of this phenomenon on the male audience’s psyche is intriguing to behold.

When a man watches Toddlers and Tiaras he seems to secretly fear that at any second cameras are going to pop out and he will suddenly find himself starring in an episode of To Catch a Predator hosted by Chris Hansen. Seriously, if you watch closely while any man is viewing Toddlers and Tiaras you can almost see them mouthing the words over and over, “I swear, Officer, I thought she was 18.”

So ladies, what to do if your boyfriend looks like he’s running from a one-armed man every time you mention Toddlers and Tiaras?

Simple.

Just turn on I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant. Ten minutes of watching that show and he’ll long for the days when his biggest fear was over an entirely different sort of crowning.

- Lindsay

About Lindsay Golder

Freelance writer, book-fiend, lover of shamefully bad films regularly featured on TBS or TNT.

9 Responses to “Why Men Hate Toddlers and Tiaras”

  1. Any girl wearing a tiara for any reason other than actually being a member of a royal family is trouble. No exceptions. I have never watched this child pagaentry show and I am glad of it. Regular adult pagaent shows repulse me enough already. I don’t think your boyfriend is afraid that he will be outed as a child lover, he might just be thinking that the idea of forcing children into participating in beauty pagaents, teaching them to be coquettish and sexualising them at such an early age as being abhorrent. Not that my opinion counts for much but that is how I feel.

  2. I can’t wait until “Toddlers & Tiaras” has been on long enough that the girls are in their 30s. This show has to be a feeder system for “Real Housewives of Wherever They Are.” For the few girls that don’t grow up to be crazy spoiled wives, we need a different update show called “I Was A Preschool Queen” that chronicles their trashy lives. America demands a show where a woman wears her 4 year-old beauty queen tiara as she opens a can of Spaghetti-Os.

  3. I’d like to build on Purple Chimp’s comment with a rigorous class-analysis. This is done half-jokingly, but I wouldn’t doubt there is some frightening truth to these wild speculations:

    As a staunch Marxist, I can’t help but feel that beauty pageants for any and every age group are some sort of late bourgeois attempt at commodifying the memory of bygone European aristocracies. I mean, this has been going on for quite a long time, but the tiaras and glamorous dresses, the strictly prescribed motions and heavily-rehearsed answers to equally predictable questions — all this “pageantry” bears the faint echo of nobilities past, the mystique of ancient bloodlines lost to the ages.

    Of course, advances in hairspray technology have long since rendered the powdered wigs of the Ancien Régime utterly obsolete. The orange-brown spray-tan of modern-day pageants is the dialectical inversion of the pallor of Louis XV lead-based foundation. It is difficult to say which is more perverse: the pedophiliac miniaturization of these latter-day beauty “queens,” or the more antique notion that a mere child could inherit the political rulership of an entire nation (as with Louis the Sun King or Peter the Great), regardless of qualification.

    Of course there are some major differences to take into account between the two phenomena. Gone is that sense of effete separateness and condescension, that healthy blue-blood sense of disdain for the common man. The elegant curtsey has been replaced by the shameless spectacle of outrageously sexualized dance numbers. The superciliousness of the raised eyebrow and the dismissive scoff of the gentry has been traded in for the obsequiousness of the plastic smile and other fawning attempts to endear these young princesses to the vulgar masses. This is the one crucial innovation of contemporary beauty-pageants over the old: their democratization. In keeping with its liberal-bourgeois transmutations, birthright has been replaced by the audience vote or at least a panel of judges.

  4. Sorry dear, you are just not getting it. Yes this show disgusts most normal men. Here is at least MY reason, I expect many would concur.

    The mothers on this show are all exhibiting the worst display of Borderline Psychotic Personality Disorder. Please google “wiki cluster-b dsm-iv” & take the time to understand the spectrum of traits. These mothers (at least 99%) are overweight cows living some vicarious fantasy through 3 year olds. It amounts to child abuse, & no one has the courage to come out & say it.

    Yes I have watched an episode or two..
    - Infants & toddlers are painted up like 18 year old hookers.
    - They are praised for acting in coy or seductive ways.
    - They are verbally & physically abused by these”mothers”.
    - They are rewarded for the most superficial & shallow reasoning.

    While you are googling, look for “A multimodal etiology for the development of borderline personality disorder from untreated adhd” Written by a phd psychiatrist. TLC should do a follow up in 15 years to see how many of these little darlings qualify as personality disordered. Do a 30 year follow up to see how many are divorced.

    So what these pageant moms are actually doing is training the next generation of psychotic female. Little narcissistic sociopaths, & we are supposed to enjoy the show? This type of women carries the communal common sense assessment from guy-sites of the sound advice “turn & run like hell”. Many if not most men may not be able to articulate “why” they dislike this show. At an instinctual level they are recognizing something outright evil being perpetrated. A mans more primal instincts are to PROTECT his offspring. What happens when the children have to be protected FROM the mother’s twisted actions?

  5. No, unfortunately the person who wrote this article is complete wrong. Men hate this show for one basic reason – It’s fucked up! And, no matter how anyone rationalizes it, it’s the exploitation of young girls who should be out climbing trees, catching frogs, playing with Barbies, and having basic wholesome fun. Anyone who believes otherwise is also fucked up…

  6. Not only men hate this show. I hate it as well! It’s a discusting hobby for bored, narrow minded and shallow mothers. Not only is it a disgrace to kids, it is also in poor taste, absolut cheap trash!
    And the husbands on these shows that are supporting this circus seem too week to defend the poor child or are just plain idiots.
    I hope child pageants will NEVER become popular in europe! Scary thought!
    People would be outraged.
    I used to model and hated it. The beauty business is no place for kids. Even I started too young.
    I was 16, but had the choice.
    I could’ ve had a career but studied, travelled and went to university instead.
    Some mothers put their babies in pageants. That’s the life they know from early on.
    They are NOT asked! Make up, false nails, false hair, false tan…They don’t even have time to develop and express their natural beauty. They learn that the only thing that counts is outter (fake) beauty.
    They all seem so unnatural and brainwashed by their sad mothers/ parents. No kid cares about money, or looks. And they shouldn’t…there’s enough of competition, greed and shallowness in adult life.
    These kids are trying to please their idiot mothers, that’s all. You might like all the glitz and glam but believe me there’s a lot of pain underneath and as a human being you should be able to tell by looking into the blank stares and fake smiles! It’s a disgrace to children. And these kids have no voice…I watched a couple of episodes and everytime there was a case for CPS. Long term studies show that pageant girls have unhealthy relationships to their bodies and are more likely to develop anorexia, depression, body dismorphia etc… and other psychological problems. You should educate yourself on this subject and look behind the glitzy curtain, not everything that shines is gold!

  7. P.S:
    I can’t believe that you really think the uncomfortable behaviour of your partner, is your so called
    “Chris Hansen Effect”
    Do you really think so little of men? You think they see lipstick and dresses and they can’t think straight anymore??? Sorry, but you should go easy on the Trash TV…it’s not doing you any good!
    I don’t know your Matt, but am 99% sure that wasn’t t it. I’m sure that he felt uneasy, because you seem to like this show and he is in disbelief, because he likes you and hates the show.
    Maybe because little girls are forced to act like adults and it’s hard and sad to watch.

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