Monday, July 23, 2012

Life Lessons with Toddlers and Tiaras

"...The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Yesterday, my 11-year-old daughter was watching Toddlers & Tiaras out of sheer boredom.  I was so disturbed by what I saw, I have since banned the program from our house.

I came in as one mom was gushing over how proud she was of her two daughters who appeared to have won their divisions.  In the same breath, she was thanking God for her girls being so blessed.  Don't get me wrong. I think it's great that she recognized that God had something to do with it. I'd really like to know, however, how she feels He has blessed them. Is it because they're beautiful by the world's standards? From what I've seen, these competitions are merely a way for the world to "judge a book by its cover."  There's a brief talent division, but the talent often includes a three-year-old toddler thrusting her hips to an Elvis song or walking across the stage and waving while wearing a themed costume. I'm sure there are skills involved in being able to maintain a perfectly coiffed hairstyle and not allowing mascara to run, but I digress...

After turning off the show, my sweet girl and I talked about how we have been so programmed with the world's view of beauty that we often forget about what God thinks. While God wants us to take care of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), he wants us to spend more time caring for what's inside. Our character, how we treat others, and our relationship with Him are what matter most (just to name a few).

We also talked about her cousin - a sweet, red-headed young lady who is mildly autistic. I asked her how she felt the judges would rate her on their beauty scale. She couldn't really give me an answer. This is the problem with the world's beauty expectations. This cousin is one of the most amazing, loving, smart and naturally beautiful girls I've ever met. Yet in a competition based on worldly beauty standards, I'm afraid she wouldn't fair so well. I can't see her being interested in piling on loads of makeup and spending hours curling her fiery locks or trapsing around in a skin-tight, sparkly ensemble. She would, however, love to talk to you and tell you about the stars and constellations or what belt she has achieved in karate...Those judges seriously have no idea what they're missing!

OK, so, here's the thing...

My heart hurts.  It truly breaks for the girls who are growing up trying to keep up with the world's beauty standards. It breaks even more for the girls whose parents encourage these worldly standards. So many have turned a blind eye to the characteristics that are most valued by God. It's no wonder so many of our girls are suffering from depression and eating disorders and are the victims of bullying (or the instigators).

This is one of my very favorite Bible verses, and I have this verse taped to every mirror in my house:  "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful. I know that full well." (Psalm 139:14)  I put it up at least five years ago to not only remind my daughter that God created us and loves us as His wonderful creation, but to remind ME, too. I'm going to be one of the greatest influences in my daughter's life. Does that mean I'll always be a good influence?  Oh, heck no! But I'm really, really trying. My own body image is a work in progress and has been as long as I remember. Thankfully, God has been at work with me and my daughter, because she is an amazingly confident young lady. This is truly a God thing.

Chances are if you're reading this, you care about this subject, and you care about the girls and young women in your life. Take some time today to compliment one of these lovely ladies on one of their beautiful inner characteristics. And pray. Pray that she will see her worth as glorious creation of our precious Father - regardless of her weight, her height, her body shape, her hair color or the color of her skin.


  1. mary, you are so right. i had to explain to my girl the other day why we wont watch dance moms, even though all her friends and even coaches are obsessed with it. she didnt totally understand until a commercial came on during cupcake wars and she said " wow, thats just moms being a really bad example to their daughters of how to treat other people."
    exactly. :)

  2. It really bothers me how the parents ignore the obvious signs that the children do not want to participate. There have been a few girls on there that seem grounded, polite, not at all spoiled, and genuinely interested in the pageants, but for the most part I feel bad for the kids and better about my own parenting skills.

  3. Uggghh this show!!! I have a really big problem with this show! I try not to judge people on their parenting because obviously, this is their life, their choice, etc., etc., however I just cannot see past this as it feels slightly abusive to me. I often find myself wondering: is this any different from the "kyoiku mamas" in Japan, or the ever made fun of "soccer moms"? Is it wrong to push your children, or to have great expectations? Coming from a household where this indeed happened, I have mixed feelings. As a result, I find myself WAY more motivated than peers my own age, and even those older than me. At the same time, however, I also expect WAY more from everyone else, which is often a point of frustration for me. I don't think this is good for young girls because it places nearly all their self-worth and self-esteem on appearances and performing at a pivotal age where these things shouldn't be at the center of their development. It's horrific to watch these little girls become sexualized and in turn cause this 'normalcy' of sexualization of children. Kids should be kids, and sure, play dress up, but not for cash, because then it becomes akin to something similar which I should not name here... Have you ever seen the movie "Little Miss Sunshine"? Yeah, like that ;-) I agree with what you say about this creating a culture of bullying, contributing to eating disorders and the like. I find myself having to keep on my niece about her 'diva behaviors' because I fear her becoming a mean girl and she is already so obsessed with her nails/hair/clothes and 'princess behavior'. She's EIGHT! And she is allowed NO television (per her hippie mama!) and she still picks up so much at school and camp. SIGH....


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