I've never seen an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras. The very concept of little girls strutting around in sexualized poses and outfits makes me shudder. The message that is being hammered into their young, impressionable brains -- that the way to get attention and rewards is to act like a little sexpot -- is disturbing. Now after hearing about this latest episode, I'm more convinced than ever that this show is truly harmful to young girls. One mother won't let her 3-year-old pageant daughter play outside because she doesn't want her to darken her skin tone. If this sounds outrageous to you, believe me, it's common.
On the show, 3-year-old Selena is described by her mom as having a "natural, golden skin tone." Apparently in order for her skin stay "golden" and not darker than that, Selena isn't allowed to play outside, even when she begs.
"She has to stay inside. She follows the proper protocol," said the mom. The little girl, of course, like any kid, wants to be outside in the fresh air and sun. "I really want to play outside. Like my brothers," the little girl lamented, to no avail.
So what lesson is mom passing along here? One, that skin tone matters. Two, that skin tone only matters for girls. Three, that skin tone -- or her looks or beauty, if you will -- is related to a lighter rather than darker skin tone. And four, that again, looks matter for girls, not boys.
How messed up is this? And yet it's common. A friend of mine, who is West Indian, gave birth to a little girl recently. Her mother, still in India, said this the second the child was born: "Does she have dark skin?" Yep, first thing out of her mouth. That's how important skin tone still is to some people.
Honestly, couldn't the mom put some SPF on this child and let her outside for an hour? Or better yet, not care about this stuff at all and send her a healthier message, like that playing outside is good and being athletic is a good, and being dark is damn fine too?
Do you think what this mom did was okay?
Image via TLC