Wrong, wrong, wrong

Susan Anderson, 'Savanha' from the series 'High Glitz'

American photographer Susan Anderson has released High Glitz, a book that examines the perverse world of child beauty pageants and accompanies her photographic series of the same name (recently on display at acte2galerie, Paris).

The photographer has spent the past three years on the pageant circuit, snapping Southern Belles in between their time on stage and in the make-up chair.  Despite minimal encouragement from Anderson, the living dolls ham it up for the camera, flashing their flippers (prosthetic teeth) and sometimes a bit of skin as well.

Susan Anderson, 'Mary Ashton' from the series 'High Glitz'

Some of the girls’ parents were upset with these photos.  Why?  The shots aren’t retouched and contain ‘imperfections’ that are normally airbrushed out of conventional pageant headshots.  While Anderson takes a sociological approach that neither approves of nor condemns pageant culture, the photographs speak for themselves; no child should be preened to look like a mini-hooker, it’s just plain wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong

258 thoughts on “Wrong, wrong, wrong

  1. healthnutliving says:

    I agree. I can’t believe the lengths they go to to make their child like “perfect”. Like their teeth aren’t fine enough. Can you imagine the messages they are sending their children?

  2. It looks really weird. Kids inocense is lost in here. I guess he, the photo guy, has some better job he did already. This is weird indeed. I hope he try for some better. This sucks!
    ~Great article.
    ~Great Love to you!
    Mirian from peelingtheorange.

  3. It’s really bizarre, the culture sending out the message that teens shouldn’t get to have sex, but still children – girls – should be sexualized so early… sickening.

  4. I completely agree. This looks like pedophile-material to me. I do acknowledge that children have their own sexualities (I use the plural on purpose), however, their sexualities should remain under their own complete control and influence, and adults should have nothing to do with it. The more I look at those pictures the more horrified I get, somehow.

  5. It concerns me because this is about sexualizing young girls, ingraining into their psyche that to be considered valuable in our society they must be alluring physically. There is clearly a finite definition on the part of pageant organizers as to what is considered feminine, furthering gender stereotypes. Children at this age should not be concerned with their physical appearance, they should be playing in the backyard with their toys and exploring their imagination. I don’t see a valid reason for entering them into beauty pageants. At least the photographic series by Ms. Anderson will fuel discussion about the issue.

  6. What scares me is that parents think it’s okay for a child to look this adult. She’s a KID. Let her be one, for crying out loud! I’ve never been a big fan of young girls in makeup, big hair and skimpy clothes, but the fact that pageants actually encourage this look is disturbing.

  7. You left out a couple of “wrongs” in the title.

    I wonder what goes on inside the heads of these parents. Most of us try as hard as we can not to screw up our kids, and sometimes we fail, but the mothers of these children seem to be going out of the way. They succeed only at objectifying their daughters and setting them up for disappointment later when the attention goes away.

  8. I simply can not understand the psychology of the parents who would engage their children in the shallowest part of our society. Never mind the future eating disorders or social in-aptitudes as they are always looking for the high of attention for looks – there is the not so small issue of predators and how they see these children. So very sad.

  9. AGREE (1000)

    This is exactly what contributes to the sickness of pedophiles and child pornography. Makes me sick!

    Long french style nails… fake teeth… On BABY teeth. I’m wondering where the fake boobs are. These are not beauty pageants. These events are monster factories.

    Thanks for posting.

  10. Jessica says:

    I find it kind of ironic that the parents are upset about the photos. Aren’t they usually the one pushing their children to participate in the pageants? Living their dream through their kids?

    I don’t agree or disagree with this. I say to each their own.

  11. I think it’s a slippery slope when you start defining what’s wrong or right when it comes to other peoples children. Would I do this to my daughters? No. I don’t want my daughters to think their worth is tied to their appearance. But who am I to tell someone else how to raise their child? Unless they are abusing them in some way that is manifest, it’s their right.
    I think it would be interesting to read some scholarly articles on the this topic.

  12. i definitely agree with you, but I think the problem starts with the parents who even lets their children to be like that.. Maybe it’s something to do with their childhood dream that they didn’t achieve!

  13. Lulu says:

    WOW!! It’s totally wrong, and abusive. What would their lives be?? Somebody’s got to do something with this, or else there is no such thing as cute children ( sigh)

  14. dianaruth says:

    I completely agree with you. It’s horrific and disgusting. It is my personal opinion that these pageants should NOT exist, and parents that put their children through these things should be brought up on charges of child endangerment….or flat out stupid parenting.

  15. […] Perverse world of child beauty pageants (via Leg of Lamb) Posted: June 8, 2010 by AA in WordPress 0 American photographer Susan Anderson has released High Glitz, a book that examines the perverse world of child beauty pageants and accompanies her photographic series of the same name (recently on display at acte2galerie, Paris). The photographer has spent the past three years on the pageant c … Read More […]

  16. This is so disturbing! Imagine what these little girls will look like when they are 30+…Most likely leathery orange skin, the same amount of makeup (if not more), fake nails, fake teeth, fake hair.
    We need to stress to the younger generations that they are naturally beautiful–not that they can purchase “beauty” from department stores so that they look like everyone else.

  17. shesmyhusband says:

    I don’t think it’s “mini-hooker” at all. Sometimes the parents do go overboard with the fake hair and teeth, you don’t want a child to be uncomfortable for the sake of beauty, but it’s all for show. Pageants often times than not are fun for these children and give them a sense of accomplishment. I have been in dance classes, and had to wear makeup and clothes like this for recitals. Nobody ever told me I looked like a hooker.

  18. Coco says:

    That is just…creepy. Especially the second picture – she’s obviously a beautiful child, but she’s been done up so much that she looks like a Bratz doll. It’s disturbing.

    Way to sexualize your kids, pageant parents!

  19. I am amazed at what children are put through…or allowed to do…these days. I know that some parents will say their children “want” to do or “thrive” on it. However, I wonder. Would their children want to do it if their parents did not place such a high value on it? How much of “wanting” is to get the parents’ praise…praise they should be getting in other areas.

    This is not using talent…although talent is a portion of the show. That is like saying the Miss America pageant is about talent when their having to walk around in a bathing suit with high heels. Excuse me????

    Whether adult or child…it is all about being eye candy. I feel for these poor children. They are being set up to think that their value is in their appearance. How very sad.

  20. markie says:

    that is really disturbing…! i mean, she hasnt even hit puberty yet and shes already being turned into a sex symbol

  21. Totally agree.
    A child is a child for only so long…

    The choices that they make later, are their right.
    But they shouldn’t be exposed much early on to things that are not right for their age.
    Needless to say they don’t have the maturity to handle the kind of things and pressure that comes with glamour.
    Besides also giving them an unnatural outlook towards life ,it gives them rose coloured glasses ,which so readily shatters as they age,giving more disillusion and pain.


    NO child deserves this.

  22. those pagent kids (and their parents) creep me out. Like- little kids in Japanese Horror movies-creep me out. I will never understand why parents do that to their kids!

  23. I agree. And it would help if society didn’t reinforce this standard of hyper-sexuality and “beauty” every single day in just about any media one can get one’s hands on.

  24. These little girls should be playing with dolls, riding their bikes, skinning their knees… This is the making of a tragic life, childhood and innocence has already slipped through the fingers. It has all kinds of potential to end in tragedy as well.

  25. I have always hated this exploitation of girls. I now have a daughter after 6 years of trying and three boys later.. It is almost child porn *to me*

    its one thing to see an 18 year old do this, but not 2-3 and 6 year old’s.. disgusting!

  26. This is disgusting. I refuse to watch those nasty shows on TV. God forbid, if anything were to happen to these kids because of how they look, the moms have no one to blame but themselves.

  27. drmomx2 says:

    I must agree! My daughter is 6 and she should look like a 6 year old, not, as you say, a mini-hooker! There is so much pressure on these young girls now anyway to look a certain way, I’d be interested to see these girls in the photos 10 years from now and see if there’s any kind of dysfunctionality in their lives. Does it make them more superficial and believing that the way they look is all that matters? And what is wrong with the parents that would bring them to push these girls into something so grown up at such tender ages? It would be very interesting to know.

  28. I can’t believe that that there are so many mothers that push their child to be beautiful and wonderful and that there are so many girls that want to be in the pageant. But in the end it IS the choice of the mother or sometimes of the child.

  29. kelliejwin says:

    I’ve never understood the need or drive as it may be to dress up our little girls like the adults they aren’t. Or to make their teeth perfect, etc. Little kids in general are supposed to have gaps in their teeth, messy hair and be care free. Not parade around trying to be beautiful mini-adults. Little girls already know they’re beautiful inside and out. Maybe we should be celebrating that kind of natural beauty instead. Love your post.

  30. I could not agree more. People can claim their own innocence all they want, but when we encourage/tolerate the objectification of toddlers it should come as no surprise to us we have a child pornography epidemic, not to mention a strong hold on the world’s use of enslaved sex workers. What IS the point of this?

  31. Tiger Mama says:

    Uh oh… you’ve got me on my soapbox! I totally agree! Women are sexualized enough in our culture and to encourage young girls (I’m talking about 2, 3, 4 year olds) to dress “sexy” and pose for cameras puckering their lips, etc. is disgusting to me. (Not to mention the talent competitions where these girls dance to songs with sexual undertones while baring their midriffs.) With new shows like ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ I’m afraid our culture is stepping backwards. How can anyone look at these girls and not see that they are being objectified and paraded around like a dog & pony show so that the moms can live vicariously through their child(ren) and somehow recapture their youth (or whatever). Don’t these moms realize that they are possibly leading their child(ren) towards decreased self-esteem, body-image issues, promiscuity, and narcissism. I’m not saying that all pageant moms are guilty of this or even that all girls who go into pageants will have these issues but parading young girls on stage and basing awards on appearance only encourages problems. I’m very scared for these girls. A 2-year-old wearing that much makeup is disturbing and creepy. They look like tiny hookers and that’s exactly how pedophiles see them. Do these parents ever stop to realize that some of these competitions (like ones in local malls) are open to the public and therefore they are exposing their daughters to these very sick individuals! I better stop… I’m pissed!

  32. Robin says:

    It’s amazing at what the parents got upset about! Their children look terrible, a child should not look like an adult. This is wrong. When I saw the front picture, I thought it was a plastic doll, not a real child.

  33. […] This post was prompted by this really interesting post at Lamlegs. American photographer Susan Anderson has released High Glitz, a book that examines the perverse world of child beauty pageants and accompanies her photographic series of the same name (recently on display at acte2galerie, Paris). The photographer has spent the past three years on the pageant c … Read More […]

  34. Heather Tricola says:

    Quite sad…a symptom of the fake images our culture embraces…where women are almost expected to wear make-up (it is actually a job requirement for flight attendants).

  35. Anderson is my new hero. Not much NEEDS to be said about this sociological pustule called “beauty pageants”. I don’t see anything beautiful about a 5 year old looking like a “mini-hooker.” (Well put, by the way.) As a child, I don’t remember caring about what I looked like until I turned about 11. Sure, I loved frilly dresses and bows, but most of my time was taken up climbing trees and playing with toys, not fake teeth and acrylic nails.

  36. Rawnie Hansen says:

    I agree. I’ve watched “Todlers and Tiaras” on TV or whatever it’s called and it freaks me out. Even though I don’t have children, I think there is seriously something wrong with parents who make their children do these pageants. It’s as if they are pushing their children to live a dream that is their mom’s dream and not their own.

  37. A million years ago I was a reporter in Statesville, N.C., where these beauty pageants for little kids are a fairly big deal. I found the whole ethos very creepy and off-putting. It’s sexualizing children, pure and simple, and it’s not right.

    Also, that top photo looks like a cosmeticized female version of Chucky. Just sayin.

  38. Doug says:


    Given that I am a parent too, I can’t understand why people put their kids through this. Little kids are beautiful as is, and soon enough they’ll be adults with all the challenges and problems that go with it. If only parents would put kids first, not their own stupid ambitions.

  39. donna kishbaugh says:

    Oh goodness! These are just plain scary! What is wrong with the parents of these children? It just sickens me!

  40. planejaner says:

    I agree with you–this is such a sad view on our society. We sexualize our girls–I was going to say, “too young”…but is there ever a good age at which to turn our girls into little hookers? I think not.
    I will look for her book…
    thanks for the post

  41. These pagents and all things surrounding them are really disturbing!!!!!!!!
    My husband and I were watching tv one evening, and saw a commercial for one of the shows that follows the lives of the girls and “pagent moms”… I was in complete shock, and it was only a 30 second commercial…
    Why these moms want to make their daughters look like a bunch of short 21 year olds is beyond me. They’re people, not freakin’ dolls! Let the kids be KIDS instead of wearing more make up than all of the starlettes and hookers of Hollywood combined! Shame on those moms… Making their kids go through that garbage… Those children are going to develope such a nasty, superficial complex. But I guess that the parents aren’t any better themselves since they’re putting their children through this in the first place. Disgusting!!!

  42. The idea of dressing up your young pre-pubescent children to look like heavily made up grown women is so backwards to me. I have never understood it – it seems to me like the mothers of these girls are fulfilling their own fantasies and not those of their daughters.

  43. darelene says:

    Yes, but why is it so fascinating. I don’t think the kids no any better, but the parents, oh my. They are the strange ones. Someone is making money off of them, that is what drives it. A lot of money for little return. It is society through a looking glass.

  44. darelene says:

    They should all get copies of the Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. A worth while read for anyone with daughters.

  45. this is very sick – I immediately thought that these children are deprived of childhood but of course I am not sure if this is true – but this is really quite sad

  46. TheBlueMorpho says:

    I completely agree!! I’ve seen that show on TV called Toddler and Tiaras, or something to that effect. It really is wrong. I mean these children dont even look real. And have you ever noticed the parents of these kids? Overweight rednecks. I guess it takes a certain kind. These children are going to have severe emotional and mental problems when they get older. They’ll be extremely vain people, and they’ll demand everything. They’re the kind that grow up to be those girls that throw a hissy fit if their latte aint perfect. It really is a sad thing. There’s no need to parade little girls around like that, so that perverted men can watch.

  47. As a parent of three girls, these pageants creep me out! Honestly, do you really want your little kid looking like a teen hooker so that pervs everywhere can ogle them. What is with those people?

  48. Thanks for this post! Hadn’t heard about this book, but now i am definitely going to read it. It’s shocking what parent’s will do to their children. What possible imperfections are they needing to airbrush?!

  49. kimbercb says:

    I recently saw an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras–I was hooked by a commercial showing a 4-yr old with a pacifier in her mouth berating her mother over something and one of her co-contestants who said the 4-yr old bit her!! I was fascinated and appalled all at the same time. And, “flippers”?? OMG. This is a sickness, a perversion, so mothers can play at being a beauty queens and princesses. Every little contestant asked if she was having fun say, “NO!”

  50. All this pageant business was really brought to the forefront with the Jean Bennett event; The parents aspire to dress and present their children as perfect miniatures (of themselves) and wish to continue, How do you stop them? What would you say?

    David Pylyp
    Living in Toronto

  51. I have a three year old girl and I look at these children and feel so bad. Their mothers are supposed to protect them and this does not look like protection to me.

  52. These poor little girls! I have a beautiful little girl and I want her to be exactly that! A little girl, playing with dolls and trucks, and climbing trees. This can’t be good for these beautiful children. They are not acting their age and will never be able to be get this time back.

  53. I agree it is wrong.

    Imperfections? Where?

    The natural oils in their skin will be non-existant by time they reach 30, since make-up dries out the skin.

    With a high rate of pedophilia and child kidnappings in this country, no child under 12 needs to like this.

    Perhaps, we need to demand that pagents not require children to wear make-up to look like mini adults? How about outlawing pagents until they reach junior high?

  54. nataliechampajennings says:

    OMG…I’m SO glad that your blog was featured front page today because this article is incredible. WTF? I can’t believe that these things are out there. Going to check out the book, for sure. Thanks!

  55. I totally agree, this is wrong. I believe they can still do the pageant but dress the girls according to their ages! no makeup, no elaborate hair dos, no fake nails. They are little girls not women! these are the girls that grow up to be vain, self-centered, selfish and with not a care in the world except for themselves and their image.

  56. Parents that pimp their children out like this ought to be be charged with child endangerment, not earning trophies! The life-long physical, emotional and psychological harm being inflicted on these little girls is nothing short of abuse. Let’s call these “pageants” out for what they are – Kiddy Porn Shows. This activity should be considered criminal, not “glitzy couture”. Shame on Susan Anderson who’s photos, book, and subsequent promos are only encouraging this sleazy subculture while cashing in on it!

    1. That really is one of my concerns too. The publication and promotion of the book also draws attention to it. No doubt her book will be purchased by pedophiles. On the other hand, a Sears and Roebuck catalog can be fodder for fantasy. Where does one make a distinction between promotion and awareness?

  57. BS”D

    Holy smokes! Although this is nothing new, I’m still completely shocked by the extent to which some parents are willing to exploit their children. As a father of two delightful children, I dearly love getting compliments on both their behaviour and their looks as much as the next parent. The parents who are subjecting their little girls to this world of pageantry, I’m sure, only have the best of intentions, but it goes too far. The same could be said about parents who, while their children are enrolled in sports programmes, go overboard with pushing their children to succeed.
    Why isn’t enough to let children just be children anymore?

  58. Tom Barden says:

    This is pretty disgusting.. i never knew stuff like this happened.. i can’t believe the parents were more upset over the “imperfections” than the photos themselves. What self respecting parent would allow/make their child do that

  59. It always freaks me out that these sort of things exist – I’d never even heard of them till I saw Little Miss Sunshine. It makes me thankful for my ‘normal’ childhood

  60. goldenpast says:

    “no child should be preened to look like a mini-hooker, it’s just plain wrong.”

    I AGREE!
    I don’t know how parents put up with it…
    I guess they want to win more than the contestants do.

  61. Sydney Bailey says:

    Those pictures are just wrong!! No little girl should be dressed like that, with that much make-up on. LET KIDS BE KIDS!!!!

  62. Thanks for your courage sharing this post. When tender posts related to childhood are written is much easier to leave a nice pleasent comment. Hence, though you are chosen by WordPress as the one of the best posts today, no comments are left yet. I´m happy to be the first.
    When truth is shown on your face of how childhood is being denied to children is much more difficult to find an answer. Thanks again, for sharing what we all, deep in our hearts know is wrong. This is the only way we can gain a broader consiousness and choose in an adult responsible way whats right, right, right for our kids.

  63. I cringe when I see these pictures, and when I’m flipping through channels and surf over the reality show. I think it’s Toddlers and Tiaras or something like that. I find it very sad when I can see adulthood problems beginning in these little girls. They are not being taught about the real world because it is all a fantasy. And many of the mothers don’t let them show any kind of weakness. Let’s see how well that goes when they start looking for husbands or wives.

  64. I have seen a documentary about these sick beauty pageants back home in France… makes me sick, really… Parents wanting to live through their kids should solve their own problems first… Better get a pure breed dog or cat to exhibit in order to make you feel better and/or important than doing that to your own kid! 😦

  65. I couldn’t agree more, i’ve seen the TLC show “Toddlers & Tiaras” link here:
    and couldn’t believe how these babies are being dressed up like mini-hookers.
    Instead of nurturing them, these parents objectify and teach these little girls that looks are all that matters, and it’s not.
    A lot of these little girls will grow up to be “people pleasers” who will be screwed up if they come up short of pleasing their parents or anyone else other than themselves.
    What these parents should teach their kids is that while having a positive self image is great, it should come from within first and self acceptance.
    My mother and I were watching the advertisements for the TLC show “Toddlers and Tiaras” and just looked at each other and said “how can parents do this to their children?”
    There’s nothing wrong with dressing them up nicely but when you see how they’re painted up to look older, it just objectifies them as little hookers.
    It is my sincerest hope that one day someone will step up for these children and bring some sense to these parents who apparently have nothing better to do than inflate their own egos at their child’s physical and mental expense.
    Thank you for posting this, maybe one of these parents will actually see what they’re doing to their kids.

  66. Let kids be kids. Beauty pageants with their superficial ideals and insanely competitive parents that force their children to dress like miniature porn stars just stunts them for the rest of their life. Little girls should look and be treated like little girls, not like property and money makers as their parents do.

  67. nastylittletruths says:

    Jeez… who are the parents of these children? And what are they trying to achieve? 100% in agreement – this is just plain wrong!

  68. Good lord, that second girl looks like she is in her 20s! I never understood this practice. Is it the mothers living out their own desires through their children, or do the children really want to do this (my guess has to be slanted toward the former)? Wrong and sick.

  69. newtotrend says:

    Wow those kids look just like adults.. it’s shocking! when I was that age I had no idea what makeup was! I don’t get why parents would want their kids to look so grown up.. being a child is about not having any worries.. especially about their appearance. Surely entering children into pageants at this age and changing their image to try and reach perfection will break a girls confidence later on in life as they will always try to reach this idea of perfection!

  70. beautyoftheyear says:

    Little girls with fake nails scare me. Not to mention, the tan is creepy too. Whew!!!
    I didn’t dress like a whore until I was the legal age to do so.

  71. I’m 43 and my mom always put me in pageants when I was young girl. In NO WAY did they ever resemble the dog and pony shows of today. Kids should look like kids, not mini versions of addicted Hollywood actresses on the red carpet.
    Well said.

  72. Wrong is not the only word for it! It’s just sick! These are children! There is more make-up and on stage booty shaking then a Jersey Shore night club. It’s just a calling card for perverts and sexual preditors out there. What happened to natural beauty? What kind of message are the parents of these children sending out? They are pretty much telling their children that not being perfect is not ok. Prosthetic teeth! Please pray for these people!

  73. Wow. Agreed. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

    Although, speaking as a former knee high drama queen, I think at age six I would have eaten this stuff up. Princess dresses, bejeweled crown, photo shoots, who wouldn’t!? LOL

  74. Wrong in so very many ways. Like watching some kind documentary about sick cult practices, or a culture so far removed from everyone else that they don’t know they’re psychos, I’ve watched some “Toddlers and Tiaras” and other such filmed records of this monstrous weirdness. Where did it COME from? Is it a pathology born of suppressed sexuality or something? Wrong, wrong, wrong.

  75. Caroline says:

    Sad sad sad… This world needs parents who love their kids for who they are – recognize the natural talents they have and draw them out with encouragement, not force. We all should say a prayer for these girls – that they are somehow able to rise above the false identities that are being pasted upon them and discover their self worth in deeper, truer ways.

  76. I agree, however I would like a programme or article to look into the actual reasons for parents entering their very young children in pageants.

    I perfectly understand the parents’ desire to show the world how beautiful their offspring is, but to dress her up and apply make up that would make a street walker curl up their lip (however, not in any case, I have to add!), begs for questions to be asked.

    To sexualise young children is to attract paedophiles, but to deny you think someone’s child is ‘attractive’ angers the parents. Where are we supposed to draw the line?

    And in what way would parents be responsible for their children? Should the decision not be made by an independent body, based on firm rules and regulations; laws that need to be uphold regardless of your child’s attractiveness?

    I’m sure there must be programmes or shows or articles that address this issue, however I feel that most of the time the emphasis is missing.


  77. Songbird says:

    I agree!!! Why, oh why do parents want to parade their daughters dressed up and made up COMPLETELY inappropriately for their age!?!?

  78. The very first one doesn’t look horrible until you take a closer look and realize the look in her eye isn’t that of a toddler nor is it natural to see a toddler with those nails. Why does she need a stage name such as that?
    The second photo you have shows a mini-hooker as stated. The way she’s standing and the look on her face isn’t one that should be seen on a child’s face. Have these mother’s forgotten that children are children?

  79. imaginecreation says:

    For reals! My thoughts every time I see stuff like this. Isn’t TLC doing a reality show based on child beauty pageants? Ugh.

  80. itavero says:

    Oh, this is gut-wrenching. How old can the girl in the second photo be—nine at most? It looks like her mother/sponsor gave her tacky Gods Girls (don’t search it if you don’t want to see alterna-chick porn) photos to mimic. Can’t begin to wrap my head around this stuff.

  81. Armel van Erck says:

    YES! A thousand times YES. You are so right. It raises so many terrible questions in relation to children, their lives, their psychology, their identities as kids, their self-worth, the objectification of their bodies, and, more worryingly the unspeakable perversions behind the desire to organise that sort of pageantry.

    I hope thousands, if not millions, will read your post.

  82. Really, what are we doing with these children? Children being the optimum word. Of course, they want to participate. What child wouldn’t. Makeup, attention, nice clothes. Hey sign me up, but what are we teaching them? All about how you look? Too much attention appropriate to their age and defnitely for their sexuality. Just not right, in my humble opinion.

  83. db says:

    Visiting from Freshly Pressed…
    I completely agree with you. My husband and I were just discussing it the other day. Anything that has a toddler wearing full makeup and completely inappropriate clothing (I like your word choice of mini-hooker) should stand out to the parents as completely wrong. I refuse to even watch one episode of TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras for that very reason..

  84. This is SO wrong. You are SO right. What every happened to a “normal” childhood? Digging out back, looking for salamanders, making potato bugs curl up into a ball?


  85. The line has been blurred between glamor and pedophilia with a recent array of reality shows. The images in this book are nothing that hasn’t already been shown on TV. Although I find it disgusting, I think the book is an important commentary on the issues with child pageantry.

  86. this girl looks like she can live on make-up, and i dont see why photographers would want to airbrush photographs just to make them look good. i mean you might as well take a picture of a monkey and make it look good!!! =P

  87. I would have to agree. While it is fun for many girls to play dress up, this is disturbing. If you watch any of the shows on tv, you can see half these girls don’t even want to be in it unless they win. These girls should be playing in parks, running here and there, instead their being bullied by their mothers and forced to look this way. You can have your daughter feel confident and pretty without exploiting her ladies!!!

  88. hideawaywithme says:

    I can’t believe so many people do this. I know there is some show on television about these pageants and I think it’s just horrible to put a child through all of that.

  89. jenn23ifer says:

    yes some of these girls are beautiful… and its really hard to like or dislike these pictures and all that imply… the only dislike i have with some of these types of girls, is the parents forget, they are only 4,5,6,7 years old… they’re still babies. they look like grown women… yes they are abolutely gorgeous… see theres the other problem, they are beautiful and fun looking… so its hard to debate… i love to dress my girls up like my little dolls… the only reason why i do, is because i have the tiniest time to play dress up with them, before the start telling me “mom i hate this”… but some of the girls are a little over done… long acrillics, and looking like they’re older than me… a little much… tone it down a wee bit…

  90. Finally someone agrees that childhood should not be spent in a shower stall getting a spray tan. If the girls pictured weren’t getting preened for judges I’m sure they would be bouncing on trampolines and sometimes succeeding at hoola-hooping.

    I think it’s a sad obsession that parents have. It takes that whole ‘giving-your-child-the-childhood-you-never-had’ concept to whole new heights.

    Despite it all, there are no laws to stop it. Instead it is considered ‘a pursuit of happiness’. The question is who’s happiness is being pursued?

  91. moriahbethany says:

    The biggest issue to me is that this sends the message early on ” Your body is your biggest asset”. It makes me a little sad because I have known a few intelligent, wonderful women who made the mistake of believing it.

  92. Lisa Thomas says:

    That is really sick.

    It’s weird for normal people to look at–can you IMAGINE what a pedophile sees when he sees those shots?

    Like hanging raw meat near the tiger’s cage.

    Why isn’t there a license for parents?

  93. I’m so scared about all this. Fake makeup, fake hair, woman’s movements. I’ve seen the tv show “Little Miss America” and I just thought -What’s wrong with these parents-
    I’ve never seen any of this in Italy.
    I don’t know, maybe my opinion is too extreme.

  94. The girls look so grotesque. I feel like if I saw these photos without being told what they were, I would’t have a clue what I was looking at. Oddly enough, these photos look unnatural on their own– No Photoshop needed.

  95. OK, ew, I have to agree. Very wrong. I’m actually pretty grossed out by the fake nails on the little girl in the first photo. I’m hardly able to get past them in order to shudder at her makeup. I wonder how old that second girl is. I’m guessing not old enough to be striking a pose like that in such a revealing “outfit.” Yikes. I don’t understand why a mother would do this to her child. Because you know it’s the mothers! No child is gonna beg her mama to go into this life.

  96. Those photographs are heartbreaking. I’ve never understood why beauty pageants are acceptable for such young ages. Of course, if the older generation is obsessed with external appearance, how can we even think for a second that they won’t want to pass it on to their own children? It’s a vicious cycle.

  97. I love pageants for young adults (Miss USA, Miss America, etc.) but the pageants for younger children have changed so much in the past few decades its disturbing. What alarms me most about the book is that I feel pedophiles and predators will have a field day with it, same as the shows that are out now that follow child pageant stars. These are children and should be shown as children not mini versions of adults. In my day you needed a fancy dress, a hair do’ and a smile, not cleavage, high heels, full makeup, and a spray tan. What is going on with the pageant world now a days?? Good post, I agree its wrong.

  98. Dani says:

    Those little girls would be plenty beautiful WITHOUT makeup. Kids should be allowed to be kids. Their parents are raising them to think they have to be “perfect.” We have become a society that sexualizes you girls, and it’s not fair to them.

  99. Betty says:

    Wrong, wrong, wrong is right. I watch a couple of shows on the TLC channel. Therefore, I often see preview ads for the appalling Toddlers & Tiaras. I can’t imagine how these spoiled brats will act 20 years from now. And where’s the disconnect in the brain of the parents??

  100. santiagooo says:

    Ha oh my God, I can´t believe there’s so many stupid people in this world…oh, wait, yes, I can…just wrong, wrong, wrong…

  101. rebekah says:

    i am continually horrified by this type of thing. making children “sexy” is so beyond wrong there are no words for it. ::shudder::

  102. I agree. Just. Wrong.
    Shame on the parents of these children who train their children to think that to be beautiful, they have to have everything perfect.
    I once watched a reality show on TV of children in the pageant circuit. I remember a child screaming at her mom because she is scared of the spray-on tan, her mom watching, reprimanding her and reminding her that winning is important. Apparently even more than her child.

  103. I don’t know, but I think little girls look best when they’re running in the house at night with dandelion fluff and twigs stuck in their hair; a rosy glow on their cheeks from playing hide ‘n seek, grass stains smeared across their knees and a smile across their faces that stretches your heart from one end of your chest to the other.

  104. Actually I was in pageants as a youngster. My sister, my aunts and I participated in pageants on the weekends. We’d take road trips across the state with my mom & Nana. Did we wear makeup? Yes, a little mascara and some lip gloss. Did tease up the hair? Yes, (it was the early 80’s) and we used hairspray and curlers. We had fun and made a lot of friends that we’d get to see at the next one. Not once did we ever get a spray tan or wear a hairpiece or extensions. I just recently found out what a flipper even was! It has gotten ridiculous. By no means did we dress the way they do now either. In fact my mom sewed most of our outfits. Of course our dresses had some rhinestones, but we still looked like little girls! We did take dance, so sometimes we would do talent competitions too. But, we didn’t have “coaches”. It was just us doing a routine we made up or one from our recitals. Back then it was fun. If mom heard about a pageant coming up she asked if we wanted to do it and if we did yay and if we didn’t want to then we didn’t go. By the time I reached middle school, we had stopped going to pageants as often. It wasn’t as fun anymore because there were other things I wanted to do, so I quit and my mom never questioned it. I’ve always been kind of shy and quiet, I think pageants were fun back then because it helped me step outside of my shell a little bit and helped me become more confident. It was never about the attention.

    Nowadays, I think there are a lot of people that either didn’t get the love & attention they needed as a child or something and now they are living vicariously through their children. I listen to all the women about my age with teenage and middle school aged girls and it seems all they are concerned with is how popular they are and if they have a boyfriend. Seriously, what’s the rush? Do you really want your daughter to measure her worth by the fact if she has a boyfriend by 14 or not? Really….

  105. And people wonder why kids are being abducted by perverted individuals…they are being lured in. You are absolutely right, this is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! God help us!

  106. shannon says:

    woooooooow…… why do parents do this to their children? they are just kids this is the only time they are going to be kids why make your child up for 3 hours to look like a a grown woman what is the logic in that? let your little girl go outside and play with her friends and play barbies! I just don’t get it with these crazy pageant moms…

  107. Young girls should not look like this.. It’s not “cute” at all, it’s completely hideous. Girls shouldn’t wear makeup until they are at least 13.

  108. K8 says:

    Child pageants just horrify me. Way to teach your daughters what’s most important in life: Being tan, made up, and dressing in skimpy clothes. It seems to always be vicarious living through their daughters for the pageant moms. No little kid wants to spend hours on hair and makeup. Dress up maybe, but the competitive aspect of this and being “judged” is what is really disturbing. You are right. The pictures speak for themselves.

  109. roxocubes says:

    Do you have a link where you can see a wider selection of the images in the series? I would be interested to see more of them as I can’t possibly see anything the parents could have wrong with the photos, apart from the fact peido’s will love them.

  110. This is totally wrong.

    I remember seeing this mini beauty pageant on a TV documentary years ago and my jaw was still on the floor when it finished. Prosthetic teeth? What’s that about? And how old is that girl in the yellow? If you just had a head shot, it would be understandable if you mistook her for a 20 year old.

  111. Natalya says:

    I am sickened by the parents of these children that are a part of these beauty pageants. If a child wants to be in one when she’s a teen, ok-I can understand. But this young? It’s gross to me and the way they make them act….it’s wrong and these parents need to grow up! (And I am a mother of 2 girls)

  112. I agree 100%….. Let kids grow up slowly………… Let them enjoy their childhood !!!
    For God’s sake Then you wonder why kids get abducted and raped its all wrong so very wrong!

  113. hi, i am disgusted by the entire pageant circuit, i think the pageants are nothing more than fronts to sell these little beauties into sexual slavery, what other reason for the makeup, hair, skimpy costumes?

  114. Kendrus says:

    This was excellent, and I completely agree. It’s scary how these little girls become so influenced by the sick industry of beauty pageants… they are taught to always be ‘perfect’ and that beauty is the key to happiness and success. This is just sad. I’ll have to check out High Glitz… thanks for posting.



  115. throughnarrowdoorways says:

    This sort of thing honestly upsets me. I know pageant moms insist pageants are good for scholarships and open college possibilities, but I feel it teaches the girls to value the wrong things. Come on, fake nails and teeth and tans and hair on a 6 year old? So much for needing a mind.

    I wouldn’t let my kids wear a pair of sweatpants with the word “Juicy” on the butt any more than I would let them feel their only value was of an artificial kind.

  116. CC says:

    It wasn’t until I really looked at the second picture that I realized that girl was a LITTLE girl. There is something not ok about dolling these girls up to that degree.

  117. I like the format. I mean, I like the pictures and then people would already know what your article is about. But, the twist of talking about the photographer. I like it, although some people may disagree, I guess that’s the point. I like the post. 🙂

  118. I hope their names weren’t published, that’s even worse than just having their photos up. I could never do this. I mean, if my daughter wanted to do pageants, okay, but dolling it up and making them look like they’re trying to pass off as 21 year old or roleplaying models, that’s another thing. There are pageants out there that do not allow such things, but after watching Toddler’s and Tiara’s on TLC, it should be considered child abuse in many cases.

  119. If you’ve ever watched a documentary on these beauty pageants or watched a show like “Toddler’s and Tiaras” there is always a scene where a mother defends the amount of primping and preparation that the girls are subjected to be saying: “my daughter loves this! She begs me for hot rollers in her hair/fake nails/spray-on tans/etc.” And then they cut to a scene where the mother is doing one of these things to her and the girl is screeching “NO!! Stop it!!” It makes me laugh every time.

  120. I should clarify: I’m not laughing because the child is in pain or discomfort. I’m laughing because the child is so obviously refuting what the mother has said. The juxtaposition of the mother’s defense of what she puts her child through with the child’s honest reaction is what makes me laugh.

  121. The main problem is that the mother’s are trying to make a living off the pagents. The documentaries I’ve seen always has very high prize money amounts for top winners.

    I try not to watch these shows even though it’s perversely fascinating because I don’t want to encourage the mothers more by giving them ratings or youtube hits.

    The worst time I saw was one young 5 year old practicing, and when she forgot her next step she said “umm… mommy what do I do next” only to have her mother grab her face and pull her close screaming at her that she is “never to do that!!!” because she can’t do that on stage.

    There’s always the shot of the little girls saying they don’t like it, then the mother guilt tripping them “fine, we’ll go home right now, no more fun” and the little ones crying and saying “no mommy I love it”.

    It’s just heart wrenching.

  122. I think that it is a sickening reminder of the world’s values–just taken to a new extreme. It’s telling these girls (and boys if there are boy ones out there) that they are not ok as they are, but must be “perfected”. Also, I think the parents that do this are living out some sick fantasy of their own through their children. It’s sad.

  123. Wow, that last pic is rather scary in a way… she looks like she is 20 years old or something, in her face… but when you look further down you notice it is a young girl :/

    I have always thought there is something wrong with girls having to do this in such young age. Do they want it themselves or is it somekind of dream that their mums (or both mums and dads) has to create a princess?

    I feel sorry for them… the girls that is… and in a way I feel sorry for the parents too.. they should see their childrens inner beauty, not make them look like this…


  124. Kayla says:

    I can see why some people may find these images shocking. However, if you think there are any sexual connotations attached to them, then as far as I’m concerned, that’s just you and what you see. In these days of irrational fear it may be hard to forget that LITTLE GIRLS LIKE TO DRESS UP!! They always have! The most shocking part, to me, of the Beauty Pageant scene is the pressure the parents put on the girls to win…not the way they look.
    I live in Thailand and at the school I teach at, they have regular shows, talent comps etc where the girls get dressed up with make-up, manicures and clothes. They love it and it is all in good fun. It is comon-place in SE Asia to have young girls dressed up in nice clothes and make-up for special events. No-one would even entertain the idea that there could ever be anything sexual in it.
    We need to STOP wrapping our children in cotton wool and teach them that yes, the world is a dangerous place, but it is also a beautiful place with more good people than bad.

  125. I am so strangely drawn to that show, Toddlers & Tiaras. I generally despise all things so exploitive but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tune in now and again because that shit is fascinating! I can’t make sense of the mothers at all. This probably also reflects my not having children or being aware of how children’s minds think at that age. Anyway, thanks for the link!

  126. jacksterxxx says:

    wow! what is this?

    i don’t blame the culture or sociological things attached to this activity, but things as perverted as this start with reasons. but instead of giving them out, I’d like to make queries about this subject
    1. why are mothers doing this? It is their desire to continue something that they hadn’t achieve in their life
    2. does this go with the child’s free will? if yes, then how would a child cope up with pressure–since this is competition
    3. who started this and of what purpose? quoted as “perverted” in some way, who organized this stuff and what’s the community’s general reaction
    4. what’s the ulterior motive of joining just pageantry? it for prize money, fame, as weird as it may sound–for the child’s future

  127. Came here through the wordpress frontpage. This is just so sad. I’m not obsessed with my appearance even a tenth of this, at five times their age. This is tragic, and should be banned or something. Whatever defence their parents might have, it will never justify them parading their kids by dressing them up as mini-hookers, as you said.

  128. I thought at first, the photo clip on the ‘freshly pressed’ page at WP (good on you, btw) was of one of those old-fashioned dolls. Clicking through to find the whole photo and realizing it was a girl… just creepy. This post of yours is along the same lines as one I just did. Mothers of these little girls… what is *wrong* with you?

  129. yasdr says:

    I can see where Ms. Anderson is coming from; her intention, basically. What I don’t understand are the reaction coming from the children’s parents.

    “Some of the girls’ parents were upset with these photos. Why? The shots aren’t retouched and contain ‘imperfections’ that are normally airbrushed out of conventional pageant headshots. ”

    I think Ms. Anderson made us see the other side of Child beauty pageants.

  130. This is always going to be a going on thing.
    There should be rules to follow this kind of activities. I don’t see anything wrong on playing dressing up, it can be fun for children at that age but… wearing heavy make up and fake finger nails ,wow that is definitely a bit over the top by the parents. Children plays cinderella ,snow white that sort of things and I can see how this pageants contest can inspire children to do this type of dressing up game.
    It’s sad for a child not to have control of what is going on.
    Some mothers even die their children’s hair in which I find that ridiculous .
    Children have the best natural hair, skin, teeth and body why not stick to their natural beauty ?

    Once again there should be rules to follow such as: No make up, dying hair, applying fake finger nails and be as natural as possible.

    Good bless those children.

  131. Freckles says:

    A show about this have been on TV in my country some times, and I just can’t stand watching it. It’s just wrong….

  132. I am glad to see someone else write about this very disturbing issue. Last month I wrote a post about the exploitation of young girls within this industry titled “Kiddie Porn & Pimp Moms.”

    I congratulate you on getting this news out to a wider audience.

  133. unknowntheartist says:

    The times have changed, haven’t they? When I was that age, all I wanted to do was climb trees and use our trampoline to jump in the swimming pool…
    I couldn’t have done any of that with all that muck in/on my hair/face/hands and fancy clothes…

  134. Child pageants are as revolting and damaging to female children as the other heinous practices around the world such as ‘Leblouh’ and ‘FGM’.

    The pain inflicted upon daughters by mothers who willingly participate in their physical and psychological abuse will haunt them for the remainder of their lives.

    Child advocacy is as important in America as in other countries around the world. http://wp.me/pBKZS-1HJ

  135. Do the kids *want* to do this, I wonder? My daughter was impossible to get into nice clothes at that age – all she wanted to do was play with the dog and wear manky old overalls lol

  136. dontaskalice says:

    There is very little that can make me audibly gasp with dropped jaw, but this absolutely provoked that reaction before I even saw the second picture. I have seen bloody violence that did not give me that strong of a visceral reaction.
    I find this to be a highly disturbing facet of American culture that I absolutely classify as child abuse. Being in the psychology field, it is absolutely clear that this is not a healthy way to raise a child. I would be very interested to see case studies of these girls as adults, and how the pageant world influenced their self-esteem, self-image, relationships with partners, parenting skills, etc. It is almost a guarantee that their psyche will be evidently damaged from being involved in such a distorted and critical upbringing.

  137. caramilk says:

    It’s disturbing to receive feedback from parents like that.
    Child Pageants are not 100% the best thing for their children, but to have the pictures digitally airbrushed and retouched? Insane!

  138. darkmattter says:

    Its ironical and painful that while on one hand there is sexualisation of infants and on the other infantilisation of women as mere objects. And its high time something be done about it.

  139. Sibel Catana says:

    I absolutely agree. I cannot stand that show “Toddlers and tiaras”. It’s disturbing and disgusting. Great article and I am happy to see that there are still some people with common sense.

  140. Ugh. Having just read Maureen Dowd’s editorial about the “fantasy team” of 14 and 15-year-old girls recruited by their male peers, I’m wondering if the world/culture is becoming more dangerous for girls or if it’s just more of the same.

    Is the book primarily photographs or is there explanatory text as well? It would be interesting to see/read interviews with parents and the girls.

  141. […] View original post here >>> Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Freak ShowMiss USA 2010 Pageant: A Boon for NBC? Posted by misscleofashion Filed in art, extravagant photography, fashion, fashion for a child, la vie in fashion, lika bell, photography, yana chernyaheva ·Tags: art, art photography, child, child pageants, children, extravagant child pageants, glam photography, glan child photography, High Glitz, make-up, photography, Susan Anderson Leave a Comment » […]

  142. Mary Ashton says:

    wow i look possessed haha its been a year since ive done pagaents, i miss getting all dressed up with makeup gorgeous dresses and beautiful hair they are so much fun!!

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