Don't ask why or how, but somehow I have ended up watching quite a few episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras in this past week. It follows mothers and their children, entering beauty pageants across the USA.
The mothers seem stuck in a cycle of wanting to win money, and bragging about the $5000 little Mary Jo has won, while spending thousands of dollars on each dress. A very bizarre journey to watch.
If you haven't seen a beauty pageant, it is usually in a hotel conference room, and the only audience are the other children and their parents. The judges score, and most children win something, if only for Best Smile, or Cutest Eyes. But they all want to win the Supreme crown.
Backstage is full of children crying as mother (or make up artist) attempts to glue false eyelashes on, or get fake teeth to stay fixed into the gap where the child recently lost them to the tooth fairy. They are persuaded with a mixture of anger, sugary drinks (what they call special juice), threats or flattery.
The girls suffer fake tans, eyebrow waxing, false eyelashes, painful wigs and poking and prodding to get them 'glitz' ready.
The mothers talk about feeling proud that they produced the child that worn. That they are living their dream. It's pretty sad to watch, sad for both parent and child.
These children are basically groomed into saying 'I wuv pageants', and somehow acquire approval through being pretty, walking right, and wearing make up. The mothers, anxiously directing from behind the judges table, give off an air of desperation, fragility, neediness and sadness.
An over all pretty depressing scene.