I have been incarcerated at home for the last two weeks recovering from “minor” surgery. What was supposed to be “minor, you’ll only miss two days from work” became “major, I’ve missed two weeks of work.” Don’t ever believe your doctor when he says “minor and incision” in the same sentence. Those two words are an oxymoron.
During these two weeks of enforced inactivity, I watched a lot of television. I enjoy “whodunit” stories and seeing how those mysteries are solved. In my opinion, there are several great shows that fall into this category. There are also some excellent programs on the Discovery channels – Health and Science – that can teach us and our children about the wonders of our world.(Even some of the programs on these channels should be screened before you allow your children to watch them.)
As we all know, there are far more harmful programs on TV than programs that teach us, edify us or that we simply enjoy. Some of those shows are obvious and we should not be watching them, let alone allowing our children to watch them. In this blog, however, I am writing about shows that are more subtle but could be as damaging to females – from our toddlers to our grandmothers.
I’ve seen ads for a show called “Toddlers and Tiaras.” Honestly, I was not impressed by the ad and had not watched the show. But, I came across it in the middle of the night earlier this week when I couldn’t sleep, and decided to watch it. Besides, there was nothing else on at that hour of the night I wanted to see. If you’ve never seen this show, the title almost gives it away. The show is about young girls, from approximately three years to nine or ten years of age who enter beauty pageants.
Now before all the mothers start yelling at me, let me say there is nothing wrong in your daughter participating in beauty pageants IF that is what she wants to do. Many pageants, including Miss America, give back to the community through the scholarship program for the contestants and in various community service projects. Most of the contestants also volunteer in their own community. I have an online friend who is Mrs. Montana International 2009. This position gives her the opportunity to promote a worthy cause she supports and believes in with all her heart.
We now return to our regularly scheduled blog…
On the program “Toddlers and Tiaras” even the three-year-olds wore makeup and their hair was crimped, curled and sprayed. The older girls had the makeup and hair styles, long wigs, acrylic nails, false eyelashes and airbrushed tans. They participated in a swimsuit competition, a talent show and the evening gown event. These girls had been trained – even the three-years-old – to strut, sashay, “shake their booty” and a few even had rather provocative dances in their talent routine.
My objection to these pageants stems from how these young girls are dolled up and made to perform. What messages are they receiving about themselves? What image and expectations of themselves do they have that they carry with them into adulthood? I would venture to say that many of these young girls grow up demanding absolute perfection of themselves and being totally devastated when they believe they don’t measure up – whether it’s in looks, grades or relationships. For the girls who did win the title in their division and the pageant title, the message they receive is they must continue to be “perfect;” they cannot fail. For those girls who don’t win – the message is obvious – they are losers and they always will be.
Perhaps I can prove my point by sharing with you the other show that disturbed me somewhat. Well, it really wasn’t the show as much as it was one of the brides. I watched “Say Yes to the Dress” last night – a program that follows two brides through Kleinfeld’s Bridal Salon in New York City as they look for the perfect wedding dress for their perfect wedding. I love weddings and everything to do with weddings. At one time, a friend and I considered owning a bridal salon. And, I have been a wedding coordinator for over a decade. So for me, this show is a lot of fun to watch. What was disturbing on last night’s show was one of the brides. She was a stunning woman who appeared to be confident of herself. She had lost 120 pounds over the last couple of years and was excited about getting married. As the show progressed, however, it came to light that not only was she not self-confident, she thought she still looked fat, that others still saw her as fat and based their opinion of her on how they saw her.
I realize that this bride did not grow up participating in beauty pageants. She had been overweight all of her life until she lost 120 pounds. But my point is the same. All of these girls – the pageant contestants and the bride – had messages drilled into them by society and by parents whom I’m sure believed they had their daughters best interests at heart and who meant well. Messages that told them they would never be pretty enough, smart enough, skinny enough…never perfect. Messages that never allowed them to see themselves as the beautiful woman God created them to be.