Are ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ moms being judged for being ‘white trash’ or for the pageant circuit?

TLC’s controversial show “Toddlers and Tiaras” premieres tonight to what I am sure will be a judgmental audience. But one writer on Slate.com wonders if the moms on “Toddlers” aren’t being judged for being on the pageant circuit but instead for being “white trash?” She wonders if these moms are really all that different from Tiger Moms pushing their kids academically or with activities, such as playing the piano. But the Tiger Moms aren’t judged as harshly.

From Slate:

“While not uniform among the pageant families, many featured on Toddlers and Tiaras are from poor, rural, Southern areas, which the show highlights with stark establishing shots of sparse and depressed towns. The “white trash” markers of the mothers—strong accents, ungrammatical speech, obesity—are also highlighted on the show, providing a classist subtext to the media’s judgment of parenting. It’s not whether waxing your young daughter’s eyebrows or depriving her of dinner is objectively worse. It’s that a Toddlers and Tiaras mother’s participation in supposedly “trashy” culture makes her a beastly parent, while Dara-Lynn Weiss is a merely controversial or micromanaging one.”

“The media takes a certain thrill in humiliating and hating the Toddlers and Tiaras mothers, and this would not necessarily be a problem (it is reality television, after all) were it not happening against the backdrop of the reaction to Weiss and others, like Amy Chua, a mother who also came forward with controversial parenting techniques and leveraged them for her personal success. In Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Chua admitted to denying her then 7-year-old daughter bathroom and water breaks until she learned to play a piano piece just right. She certainly faced criticism, but she was never vilified as the Toddlers and Tiaras mothers have been because her ultimate goal for her children, admittance to prestigious universities, is accepted as legitimate by bourgeois parenting standards.”

“The mothers on Toddlers and Tiaras are chastised for ignoring their children’s feelings, forcing their own desires upon them, and spending exorbitant amounts of money to do so. If the mothers on Toddlers and Tiaras expended their funds and parental pressure on SAT tutoring, squash instruction, or foreign language immersion, they likely would not be dismissed as broad caricatures that are all too easy to hate. Because in reality, the main difference between a pageant mom and a tiger mother is just a matter of accessories.”

What do you think? Are the moms on “Toddlers” being judged for being low-class or for what they are they doing with their children on the pageant circuit? Are they any better or worse than the self-avowed Tiger Moms that won’t let their kid pee before they learn a certain piano piece or have friends over for a spend-the-night party?

58 comments Add your comment

shaggy

April 4th, 2012
6:35 am

Does it make you any higher “class”, whatever the hell that is, to watch, judge, or comment on these humans?
After all, you are the reason these crappy reality shows still exist..you still have knobs to manipulate on the one eyed monster’s remote control, yet you, the voyeur, continue watching, eternally fixated on what others are doing, while your own life slips away.

“Class”…it’s practically the same thing as telling someone to “get a life”. No meaning, just a dumb comeback.

K's Mom

April 4th, 2012
8:00 am

I think the Tiger Mother was vilified about as much as the pageant moms for a period of time. The difference is her book is no longer new and T&T is on all of the time. I gotta say, I do watch the show very occasionally. It is so bizarre and outside of my understanding that I do get sucked in every so often.

Jeff

April 4th, 2012
8:01 am

I’d certainly like to know the demographics of who watches these shows. That would tell me more.

Now, Shaggy, about that one eyed monster. Ummm, I was under the impression that was something a little different that often manipulated and controlled things. Lol.

DB

April 4th, 2012
8:07 am

The toddlers aren’t being encouraged to excel with their minds or athletically with their bodies, which is why the Tiger Moms are considered somewhat more “respectable.” T&T kids are being encouraged to excel by slathering on gobs of make up and walking through prissy little artificial “talents” and generally being about as fake as possible. At least a good SAT will help you get into a good school — what will a “Little Missy” trophy get you? You MIGHT win enough money to pay for the hideous dress and costumes, but probably not.

Any kind of excess, to my mind, is a form of child abuse — whether it be make-up, long hours of piano practice, or endless practice sessions that serve to feed the parents’ frustrated dreams instead of the child’s. If a grown woman wants to do it — aka Miss America, Miss Universe, etc. — then that’s her choice. Maybe it’s the narrow focus of the show, but it does seem that these pageants can become all-consuming for these families.

One of the reasons given for participating in these pageants is that it helps the girls learn “poise and self-confidence”. That never made sense to me — how can you learn “confidence” by hiding behind a make-up mask and “performing” an unnatural routine? (walk two steps, pose, smile, hand on hip, etc.) That’s not real confidence. Real confidence and self-esteem come from knowing that you are able to successfully deal with challenges, not putting yourself up to be judged on your dress and your hair.

Augusta

April 4th, 2012
8:15 am

I think this is a classic example of living vicariously through your child. I used to watch the show, for entertainment, but I got so disgusted, and thought, these poor little girls have NO childhood. Their Moms are FORCING them to look like adults, even at age 9 months. That I just don’t get. Entering a 6-9 month old in a beauty pagent.

I don’t watch the show anymore, because it upsets me that these kids don’t get to be kids….

missnadine

April 4th, 2012
8:42 am

Really? now you are saying that the Tiger Moms, as a group, won’t let their kids pee or have friends over? That was one woman’s story, not all Tiger Moms. There is a huge difference between the types of parents you discuss.

I agree that most of the moms (the white ones mainly) are what we would call white trash. Everything about these moms – their behavior on the show, their missing teeth husbands, the tattoos, the improper language – all are the classic signs of white trash. What is worse, however, if the way they sexualize their daughters, with the cheap and sleazy outfits, the mannerisms, and the dance moves. In my opinion, this is child abuse plain and simple. The parents of color do not seem as bad – or maybe the show just does not focus on the bad ones. I know what you are thinking: if this person is so against these shows why is she watching? I am guilty of watching maybe 6 episodes back to back on a Saturday. I was just amazed, and while I thought it was awful, I did sit there and watch.

Tiger Moms remind me more of Sports Moms (and Dads) where a child is pushed to excel in sports. While I don’t agree with everything Amy Chua has done, she has prepared her daughters to be strong, independent, and very smart, relying on their smarts instead of their looks. In contrast, the pageant moms teach their kids that sex sells, which, while this may be true, is a notion that should not be focused upon, especially at such a young age.

I know this is a long post – sorry! There is a good book out – The Truth about French Parenting, that I feel is a must-read for US parents. The author is an American mom that lives in France for a few years. I traveled there quite a few times in recent times for work, and I can say, their children there are so less coddled, and the parents less frazzled. The concept of a pageant mom or helicopter parent is so rare in that country. It really is a good book, funny and smart.

Me

April 4th, 2012
8:59 am

I’ve never seen the show and simply choose not to watch “reality” TV as, usually, there is actually very little reality.

FCM

April 4th, 2012
9:17 am

This type of show is much like our school system Feeding to the LCD. If they did a study that showed this type of TV is what makes us less competive in the job market than say China would you finally stop adding to the insanity by watching/blogging about them.

Yes it is your blog. Yes a quick Google search shows this topic will probably gets lots of hits…..but that is just it. It adds to the insanity.

Most of the people on these shows about the kids (Duggans, Kate, Tiera, Dance, whatever) are legalized pimps. They are selling their kids to the American voyuer and it is just wrong. So stop supporting it by watching something else….good grief even Sponge Bob will rot your brain (if you insist on rotting it) without pimping a kid.

JOD

April 4th, 2012
9:27 am

I refuse to watch this show – these people make me nauseous, not for their ‘trashiness’, but the hypersexualization (as others noted) of little girls – not to mention the cheap antics they use on the show. I saw a commercial once where a girl who couldn’t have been more than 5 guzzled pixie sticks and Mountain Dew with her mother’s encouragement. Won’t watch it.

Want Reality TV? Check out ‘Bomb Patrol – Afghanistan.’ That’s the crazy reality of our soldiers overseas – it will suck you in.

Jan

April 4th, 2012
9:34 am

Sick show… Little girls as sex objects with Mom’s and Dad’s full support and encouragement. At least Tiger mom was pushing for something with a future that doesn’t include a stripper pole.

shaggy

April 4th, 2012
9:55 am

Questions:
Would a black reality show be showcasing “black” trash?
Would Al Sharpton stage a protest if you published “black” trash?
Would the new black panthers put a hit on you?
Would Spike Lee put the wrong home address out and end up “settling” with a big wad of cash?

Just how is it that you get away with “white” trash and would certainly get beat up if you used “black” trash?

shaggy

April 4th, 2012
9:59 am

Jeff,

I like “trouser trout” better for that delightful, attached appendage that rules us.

Roberta Higginbotham

April 4th, 2012
10:08 am

Isn’t if funny how our feelings and opinions of others for the most part are based on how closely others do or do not behave in comparison to OUR rulebook? It never occurs to us that there may be more than one rulebook. If someone’s behavior, comments, or appearance violates any of our rules, we judge that because of this violation this person is bad or stupid. There are several reasons for this: Judging someone as bad or wrong gives us a false sense of self-esteem; Judging others bolsters our need to feel right; Judging others makes us “feel safe” – we can hide behind “the right thing to do” – this validates that we are right and others are wrong.

We’ve all had different backgrounds, and therefore have our own unique “rulebooks”. “Not good or bad, just different” is a good mantra for beginning to accept without judging.

jct

April 4th, 2012
10:27 am

To Answer Shaggy:

1. Keeping up with the Braxtons, Real housewifes of atlanta
2. No, Al is too busy with other stuff.
3. Not sure
4. Don’t think so

Believe me there are plenty of black folks who hate these shows whether the cast is black, white or purple, such as myself. I don’t waste time with reality tv. Also, we have names for these show with black cast but we just use the name in front of mixed company.

Augusta

April 4th, 2012
10:27 am

I was taught to never judge a person, as you don’t know their situation. I have tried very hard to NOT judge people.

“Walk a mile in my shoes”…….

Jessica

April 4th, 2012
10:58 am

People who support pageants will tell you that the competitions help girls develop poise and showcase their talents. That’s great in theory, but the reality is that these little children are dressed up in indecent costumes and forced by overbearing parents to put on a show for strangers. They don’t get to just be kids, and the unspoken message is that their parents love them more if they win, less if they fail.

People who go to the extreme pushing their kids to excel in sports and academics will tell you that they are giving their kids the tools to get into a good college, succeed in life, etc. In reality, a lot of these kids will end up stressed out and resentful, overburdened by too many practices and lessons. They will miss out on the chance to enjoy being kids, and the unspoken message is that their parents love them more if they win, less of they fail.

Pageant moms and tiger moms seem very similar to me, even if the tiger moms look a little less ‘trashy.’ Achievement and opportunity can be good things, but it’s wrong to make your kids think you value them for what they can accomplish instead of who they are. This hold true for people of every class.

jarvis

April 4th, 2012
11:03 am

@Augusta, we do know their situations. They have cameras following 24/7 for what has seemed like a century.

Augusta

April 4th, 2012
11:04 am

@Jessica – very, VERY well said!!!

jarvis

April 4th, 2012
11:16 am

Who remembers Flowers in the Attic?
That was a creepy mom.

Augusta

April 4th, 2012
11:41 am

Yes, Jarvis, and it’s HEAVILY EDITED…

K's mom

April 4th, 2012
11:49 am

@Jessica, agreed…

RJ

April 4th, 2012
11:58 am

@Shaggy, apparently you haven’t seen Basketball Wives. Yes, I would indeed call them black trash. Why would Al Sharpton need to speak out about a TV show unless it was “The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer” that UPN did years ago about slavery, which was disgusting. I wish he would’ve stopped that from coming on TV. The bigger question is are the Black Panthers even relevant? It is an extremist group that only a small minority would associate with. Does the KKK speak for the white race? Whatever Spike Lee decides to do is his business. Since when does the black race have control over his mouth? And why are any of your questions even relevant to the topic at hand?

I have only watched a few minutes of this show. i just didn’t find it interesting.

homeschooler

April 4th, 2012
12:06 pm

I’ve never see the show but I can just imagine. I wonder, though, are there different levels of these pageants? I see people post pics of their daughters on fb in local pageants. The girls are always wholesome looking, no makeup, long dresses. Just really simple and pretty. Nothing like JonBenet Ramsey. These are not parents that I would consider anything like those portrayed on TV. I have no idea. Just asking.

I think there are definite similarities in tiger moms, pageant moms, sports dads etc.. it’s just the less “trashy” the more socially acceptable. Dysfunction crosses all social and racial lines.

@ Roberta.. my sister-n-law and I have always said “Do white trash know they’re white trash?” because it always seems that no matter how trashy one seems to be they still talk about people being trashy. I have a nice house, two clean and well cared for kids, good manners etc.. but I’m sure if someone from a very a very posh, upper class lifestyle showed up and saw my kids playing in the dirt, my son with longish hair and the hole in the screen on my back porch he/she would totally call me white trash. Different rule books. Great way to keep things in perspective.

Saul Good

April 4th, 2012
12:25 pm

I really find it no different compared to pushy fathers who obses about their sons playing baseball or football because of their own failed dreams. Parents that actually “cared” about their kids would worry more if their kids were striving to get straight A’s and grow up to cure cancer… what iut comes down to is there will ALWAYS be parents who push their own pathetic failed dreams on their kids.

Saul Good

April 4th, 2012
12:30 pm

missnadine, yes I’ve read that book…it’s a great take on the differences between child rearing in Europe compared to the states… parents here SHOULD read it…but the truth of the matter is that most would not read it and condemn it for even “daring” to say other people are doing a “better” job raising their kids compared to USA parents. The few that DO in fact read it…should take a look in the mirror and learn to let their kids be on their own a bit and make their own choices…to stop giving in to their whims and wants the second they demand something…to leanr to even “gasp” ignore them at times so that they WILL go play and learn on their own. Yup..they’ll even probably condemn me for agreeing with that premise.

billy bob

April 4th, 2012
12:31 pm

that show is almost as good as operation repo!

jarvis

April 4th, 2012
12:54 pm

The noncompetitive nature of the French is hardly an example to follow. Please outline the greatest French achievements of the last 100 years that don’t include food.

DB

April 4th, 2012
12:59 pm

@Roberta: “Not good, not bad, just different.” I agree to a certain extent, but there is also virtue in seeing another’s behavior, seeing the effects, and deciding, “Oh, HELL no, I’m not going there.” That’s judgement, too. While not “judging” people is a nice concept, it’s essentially impractical, because human beings judge EVERYTHING to determine how they, in turn, should respond. It’s an essential component of communication and survival. Human beings seem to have an innate need to organize themselves with “like” human beings, and use a variety of methods to do so, etc. In this way, they are very similar to animals in the wild, who will reject or attack members of their own species if they are too far off the “norm” — i.e., an albino animal is almost always an outcast, primarily because it becomes a visible target for predators.

So don’t judge humans too harshly for judging. :-)

DB

April 4th, 2012
1:03 pm

@Jarvis: *giggle* Well, there was Chanel . . . ! :-)

Saul Good

April 4th, 2012
1:04 pm

Jarvis…there would be NO USA if not for the French. It was THEY who helped Washington defeat the British at Mount Vernon…but I guess you get your “history” from Fox News and Rush instead of from “books”… we also got our “democracy” from them as well as they outline for our justice system.

Of course I said people like you would “attack” instead of “read” the book and THEN make up your mind. Typical. I feel sad for those raised under you to be so bigoted.

missnadine

April 4th, 2012
1:06 pm

Saul, you were right -Jarvis had to made a disparaging remark about the French. Lots of people here just don’t want to ever think they can learn from another country….we are talking about child rearing and the pushy parents. Many kids are way too spoiled here. If you have ever traveled beyond these borders, you would appreciate the behavior of children elsewhere (I am speaking of civilized nations). It is just a difference in how the kids are generally not coodled, and that bad disruptive behavior is not as accepted as it is in North America. It is a huge diferrence.

Saul Good

April 4th, 2012
1:11 pm

Yet let’s talk about a few more things WE (and the rest of the world got from the French)..you know besides the way they raise smarter and more well adjusted kids.

The barometer, the battery (which Jarvis I believe you should never use again since you hate the French… okay back to munching on your Freedom Fries…there’s more):
The bicycle, Braille, The electric iron, interchangeable parts, the parachute, pasteurization, the sewing machine… all ontop of the fact that we’d be a British colony if not for their help and support with both troops and money when we needed it most.

Saul Good

April 4th, 2012
1:17 pm

I agree missnadine…I travel a great deal and my sister in law is married to a a Norwegian and lives over there. They too do not coodle their children every time they want something or when they cried. Their children are well adjusted, don’t need to be told when to do their studies…and are happy kids…all without being spoiled by their parents. I have my first on the way…my wife and I have both read that book (she after I finished it)…we learned much and it opened our eyes to what we saw in our travels but never focused on at the time. There’s much to be learned outside of the Happy Meal culter our kids are raised in. It shows why decade after decade our youth are falling behind to almost all other civilized nations…and trust me…those kids are not “sad” and deprived. Not in hte least.

shaggy

April 4th, 2012
1:20 pm

RJ,

Calm down. I was merely making an observation of term usage, as I have never heard of the term, “black trash”, only the white kind.
The other stuff was merely poking fun celebrities that only care about stoking their egos and pocketbooks with your cash. They pick the sensational events, because of $$. I am pretty sure they wouldn’t pee on you if you were lying on the sidewalk on fire, unless it was to put the burning money in your pockets out.

As for “white or black, Asian, Native American, etc… trash”, I have met some of the most honest, hard working, down to earth, wise, funny, beautiful, strong, interesting…people that would be judged trash…by many of the people commenting here. Also, they were the poorest in a material sense and treated me waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than the richest snobs of any race.

The ones I have liked the most were the ones that could make fun of themselves. I try to do that every day for sanity.

shaggy

April 4th, 2012
1:23 pm

jarvis,

I’ll have you know that the French hold the record for the most surrenders of any nation on the planet in the last 100 years.

Augusta

April 4th, 2012
1:25 pm

Let’s quit attacking each other. Let’s quit comparing parents to those around the world.

Can’t we all just get along?

shaggy

April 4th, 2012
1:27 pm

Saul Good, missnadine

Has your doctor told you that you suffer from rigid-itius sphincter-itis?
Belly laughs will cure that 100% of the time.

Saul Good

April 4th, 2012
1:35 pm

Shaggy….I’ll play… name those surrenders. Too bad they didn’t lose any wars..you know like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afgan…. and btw…I’m SURE i laugh a whole lot more compareed to you. It;s those Foaux News and Rush listeners (along with Boortz) who spend their days worrying about things..like WMD’s, and that war on Christmas that takes place every year!

missnadine

April 4th, 2012
1:37 pm

Shaggy – has your doctor every told you you are narrow minded? Really, every culture has something we can learn from. The French happen to raise their children very well, as do most European countries. If you were willing to look beyond your narrow focus, you might be able to learn from and appreciate other cultures. You know, I have never heard French people bad mouth the US, but I hear it so often from people here. Just because they don’t agree with our military stance, doesn’t mean they are cowardly and small. I know you will say something in retaliation, but I won’t respond. I see that you can’t even imagine anything better than the way you lead your life.

Augusta

April 4th, 2012
1:59 pm

If it weren’t for the U.S., the french would be speaking German.,

’nuff said.

HB

April 4th, 2012
1:59 pm

“You know, I have never heard French people bad mouth the US, but I hear it so often from people here.”

Hahaha! I love France and French culture and spent a wonderful summer in Paris, but believe me, plenty of French folks have a lot of not-nice things to say about the U.S. and American culture (or as some say, lack thereof). One Frenchman told a friend and I that he would never visit the U.S. as it had nothing of interest to him and was particularly lacking in contributions to modern music. He preferred cutting edge British rock groups — his favorite was R.E.M. ;)

Yorktown2

April 4th, 2012
2:28 pm

Let’s see — someone qualifies for the Jaywalk allstars for their poor history knowledge. The French did not help the Americans under Washington defeat the British at Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon was Washington’s home and not a battlefield. The French helped Washington corner the British under Cornwallis at Yorktown where the British surrendered. You loose final jeopardy.

shaggy

April 4th, 2012
2:58 pm

Saul Good,

Why would I want to “play” with someone infected with rigid-itius sphincter-itis ? It is a nasty disease that while not infectious, does cause the infected person to drool, sputter while trying to speak, and wrinkles the brow unnecessarily.
It is painful to read the ravings of a mad man.

missnadine,

Laugh and cry while you still have the chance. Life is too short to take every second seriously…especially on a freakin blog. It was a joke for crying out loud…relax thine blow-hole.

FCM

April 4th, 2012
3:02 pm

If it were not for the French we would not have had Julia Child….for she would never have gone to Cordon Blu…..we would not have Creme Brulee or Bernaise. We would not have Madame Liberte to greet people in the Harbor of NY.

We would not have Les Miserable (although Cameron McIntosh must be thanked for that too!!).

For their culinary contributions and Les Mis I can thank them. Their habit of taking longer lunches and really enjoying life (joire de vire)…..ah that I can grow fond of too.

However, as a military powerhouse…..uh No…..as a Politcal to emulate….uh no.

George at Mt Vernon

April 4th, 2012
3:18 pm

George’s Lookout: “LOOK, Over THERE…it’s our French allies moving on the evil British formation.”
George: Wellllll, which way are they going?
George’s Lookout: Over to that house….they are setting it on fire…they are shooting cannons at it…it is a wreck.”
George: Let me have look. I love to see the British get theirs….wait a minute…THAT’S MY HOUSE THEY JUST DESTROYED! WHO sent THEM THAT way???? I”LL HAVE THEIR HEAD!!!!!!

George’s Lookout: It was buck private Saul Good sir…he was trying to be smart again…I remember the last time he did that, he mistook Paul Revere’s horse for a British horse and shot it…shortened that ride by quite a bit.

Augusta

April 4th, 2012
3:29 pm

jarvis

April 4th, 2012
3:55 pm

The electric iron? Really? That’s on the list of great accomplishments? Not to mention it was invented by an American.
And Louie Pasteur has been dead for well over a hundred years.

As to my loving of all things Fox News and Rush…you’ve barked up the wrong tree on that one. Pure open-minded Independent here.

In fact, I’m open-minded enough to know that when I hear crap advice no matter where it is from….it’s crap advice. I too have traveled a good bit. Lots of foreign advice can be useful, and much of it is crap.

DB

April 4th, 2012
4:53 pm

ROFL at “That’s my house they just destroyed!!!” I wasn’t going to jump on poster who got Mount Vernon mixed up with Cornwallis at Yorktown, but yeah, I did get a good snicker out of it :-) And lest we forget, the French weren’t as much FOR the Americans as they were anxious to beat up on the British, a sort of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” in order to solidify their hold on colonies in the West Indies and in retaliation for the loss of Canada after the Seven Years war, in 1763. France didn’t enter the American Revolution until after Saratoga, when people started to realize that, darn, those uppity Americans may actually have a chance of winning (In other words, they were perfectly happy to let us lose, but they were anxious to sidle up when it looked like we might win . . . ) Many in France objected to involvement as they were afraid it would be ruinously expensive at a time France was undergoing severe financial issues. They were proven correct, as the resulting financial disarray was one of the factors that helped spark the French Revolution.

The thing that is really cracking me up on today’s blog is that it started out as a “oh, we shouldn’t judge people! That’s not nice!” and promptly turned into a HIGHLY judgmental “US kids are crap, French kids are great!”

For those interested in reading the “the rest of the story” (as Paul Harvey was wont to say), browse through this article from “The Atlantic”, which has an interesting take on how those well-behaved French children get that way — and the adults they become:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/03/the-truth-about-french-parenting-and-i-would-know/254521/

catlady

April 4th, 2012
5:37 pm

I’ve never seen the show. It shows things I don’t think are entertainment. Let’s watch fat old men getting a colonoscopy! Hear what they say after they are given the amnesiac! Whooowee,

RJ

April 4th, 2012
6:07 pm

@shaggy, glad to know you weren’t serious. For the record, the word most often used for black trash is ghetto.