A child custody case centered on a family from the TLC reality show "Toddlers & Tiaras" has pageant mothers concerned that their children's participation in beauty pageants could cost them their custody rights. In the case, a 6-year-old girl's father reportedly cited her child beauty pageant hobby as a reason why he should be awarded full custody, believing the pageants sexualize young participants. While the judge ordered the girl and her mother stop participating in pageants until the case concludes, he also issued a gag order against the father, threw reporters out of the trial and closed the hearing.
The results of the case could have repercussions for child custody cases involving pageant families in Michigan and across the country. One woman, whose daughter was also featured on "Toddlers & Tiaras," defended the mother's parenting ability. She argued, "[her daughter] is a happy little girl and she's well-taken care of. She's spoiled and she gets a lot of attention, but that's not grounds for her to be taken away."
Another pageant mom spoke out in support of the mother, commenting on an incident in which the girl dressed up like country singer Dolly Parton. "It was a 90-second clip of something that she would do on stage to pretend like she was someone else," she asserted. "It's just a funny routine, there's nobody there who would take it in a sexual context."
A number of psychologists say that pageant moms are indeed sexualizing their daughters by tanning their skin, putting them in excessive makeup and having them wear costumes that are "reflective of adult sexuality." The case's court-appointed psychologist also referred to a report by the American Psychological Association that found that the sexualization of young girls negatively impact their mental, sexual and cognitive development.
Source: Fox News, "'Toddlers & Tiaras' moms worried child beauty pageants can be used against them in custody cases," Meaghan Murphy, Aug. 24, 2012