Monday, July 27, 2009

RE: Wallets Containing Photos of Babies are More Likely to be Returned, and Watching "Toddlers & Tiaras"

I missed this story from a couple of weeks ago, but apparently researchers claim that wallets containing photographs of babies are more likely to be returned than those that do not:

The baby photograph wallets had the highest return rate, with 88 per cent of the 40 being sent back.

But we're not shown the baby photos in question. What if you found a wallet that had pictures of babies and small children that looked like these:

What would you do with the wallet in that case?

There is a television program on TLC called “Toddlers & Tiaras” that has escaped my notice up to now. Since I care for neither children nor beauty pageants- and, as I’ve previously written, I dislike ampersands- I am not the target audience. But I did manage to muddle my way through the first episode of the second season, which has been sitting on the TiVo since last Wednesday.

The episode followed three families with children competing in a beauty pageant in Texas called the Universal Royalty Pageant, or something like that. The overall winner from all age groups and genders is called the “Ultimate Grand Supreme” winner, and awarded $1,000 in cash.

I know. What is a small child going to do with $1,000 cash? Well, they could spend it on makeup, nails, hairpieces, or outfits. As five or six year old Eden Wood’s mother, Mickie says, she’s probably spent about $50K or so on clothes.

One of Eden’s outfits (for the pageant’s “Outfit of Choice” competition) is a Vegas Showgirl, which Mickie describes as “a real Vegas Showgirl outfit that was cut down.” When Eden steps out onto the stage decked out in that Vegas regalia she- to use her own terms- “rocks the stage.”

Another family is that of Michelle Treder, whose sons, Cavin Treder and Cameron Fletcher-Cantu are competing in the boys categories. Because they’re both boys, much to mother Michelle’s regret. She is a pageant winner herself (in fact, she was the first winner of the Universal Royalty Pageant 15 years before) and hoped to have girls that she could dress and train. With boys, all you can really do is put them in a tuxedo and cut their hair.

Cameron is a funny seven year-old kid, and enjoys being on stage. He will compete in pageants until he’s in his grave. “The stage is my home,” he says.

Cameron’s brother, Cavin, is silent on the subject of competing in beauty pageants. Because he is two weeks old.

“I think Cavin’s going to be really outgoing,” his mother says. He is still so small and fragile that he cannot even lift his head, and his dazed expression remains unchanged.

Cameron says that Cavin “wants to win really, really badly. But he doesn’t know that.” Mother Michelle brings the tiny tuxedo-clad baby on stage, and displays him like a piece of matter. He looks cute, but cuteness isn’t all the judges are looking for. As one of them interviews, the judges want “personality, confidence, and it looks like they’re having a lot of fun on stage.”

Poor little Cavin just looks surprised to be at a pageant. He looks surprised to be anywhere; only three weeks before, he was a fetus.

Then there was the Sterling family. There were several daughters, maybe five or six total (too bad they can’t swap one of their daughters for one of Michelle Treder’s sons), including a pair of fraternal twins, AshLynn and BreAnne. They’re not identical, and mother Sterling catalogs the physical defects of the “less cute” one. I honestly could not tell them apart, but then I was not examining them with a mother’s critical eye.

Mother Sterling (sorry, I didn’t catch the name and I can’t go back and watch any more of it) is a pageant girl herself. Her husband is less sympathetic to pageants. He’s concerned about his fraternal twin daughters competing against one another, but he doesn’t want to cause any friction with his wife, so he “compromises” by allowing his wife to do whatever she wants.

That worked so well with Jon and Kate Gosselin.

In preparation for the pageant, the twins are coached in walks and stances. One of the girls- the mother’s favorite, again, I can’t tell them apart- is interested in it, and enjoying herself. The other is not. Later, one of the daughters- AshLynn- cries over a ripped dress. This could cost her the competition, as her mother points out. Repairing the dress is just one more thing that Mother Sterling has to do that she doesn’t have time for.

The punchline, of course, is that even after all that passive-aggressive guilt-tripping, mother still didn’t repair the dress. On competition day, part of the fabric is hanging down from the bottom.

BreAnne flatly states, “I don’t like doing this,” on the day of pageant. This prompts Mother to interview: “BreAnne has had a bad attitude, and she’s not listening at all or behaving or minding.” The husband adds, “If I had to, I would pull her from the pageant. Jamie (the mother’s name, I just remembered!) would probably lose it, but I would do what I had to do.”

Finally, no one can stand BreAnne’s attitude anymore, and Father pulls her from the competition. He says, without any detectable trace of irony in his voice, “She’s the child and I’m the parent, and I’m responsible for how she behaves in public.”

AshLynn’s left to muddle through the rest of the competition without her sister, and as she dances on the stage in her pink tank top and pleather skirt and leggings, Mother laments, “It seems so forced with AshLynn.” With that cold, analytical eye of a mother of six year-old daughters.

Maybe that’s why I have little desire to procreate. Being a parent is stressful.

First pic source.
Second pic source via this.
Third pic source.


Miss Malevolent said...

That show is uber disturbing.

shampoo said...

wtf is wrong with people? these women need to go buy themselves a barbie and stop screwing up their kids' lives.

Ricky Sprague said...

I have a pretty high tolerance for reality shows, but I did have a hard time getting through this one.

shampoo said...

who wouldn't (shiver)

Anonymous said...

I watched this episode (the only one I have seen) and I wanted to slap that mother in the face! Who treats their children that horribly? The "ugly" daughter placed really well and the family still wasn't happy for her. They were mad that their star child never placed since they took her out halfway though. This show is more depressing and Miss. America.

Anonymous said...

You idiots all of you this show helps little girls confidence !!