A couple of days ago, Lisa posted about the sexualization of young girls, specifically in a fashion spread in French Vogue. Erica B. found another striking example on the reality show Toddlers & Tiaras, a show about young girls entered in beauty pageants. In this case, 2-year-old Mia’s mother has her perform wearing a tiny version of Madonna’s famous cone-bra bustier from her Blond Ambition tour:
The whole performance (and note the video is titled “Mia Living Doll”):
For another video of her doing the routine, watch the 2nd video at this Jezebel post.
SociologicalMe — January 10, 2011
To give a teeny, tiny bit of credit to whoever named the video, the "living doll" bit might just be a reference to the fact that the girl forgets her routine and her mother gets behind her and waves her arms (and hips!?!) around.
I'm still mulling over how I feel about this, but I couldn't help but notice that the little girl acts exactly like a little girl. She wanders around, gets distracted by the crowd, and can't help but touch the weirdo breast cones in a "WTF are these?" kind of way. And it's driving mom crazy- she has to come up on stage and force the girl to act in a totally inappropriate way. I feel so sorry for the kid, contemplating what mom (and plenty of other influences, of course) will push on her next...
T — January 10, 2011
I totally get sticking your kid in funny situations (in a box or in a funny pose) and snapping a picture for giggles... the kid doesn't know what's going on and/or doesn't really care. It's all for the parents and their friends.
It seems that these pageants have taken this 'urge' to some sick and twisted level. The really sad part is when the kid gets to be about 4 or 5 and begins to actively participate. It's no longer dressing up a doll that happens to move... the kid is now internalizing all of this toxic weirdness.
Pauline — January 10, 2011
I couldn't help but smile a little when I saw that the video production company is called 'Speechless Imaging'. I bet they really are speechless when they have to work on projects like this.
But back to the topic at hand - I agree that, like others, I was struck by how normal the child seemed - she was much more interested in playing with the cones than performing. That said, there are quite a few children who do really understand 'performance' at a young age. I've been involved with a few dance clubs that often have a 'babies' section for the littlies. They'll go out as a group onto stage and perform their routines (and have a ball, as you can probably imagine) and you can always pick which ones are 'performing' which are overwhelmed by the audience and which are just having fun being kids and running around.
bbonnn — January 10, 2011
Is it common in pageants for two-year-old participants to wear the heavy makeup you see on the slightly older kids (4 or 5 or 6 years old - yes it is a real thing in the world)?
Because it's kind of interesting that this kid doesn't seem to be wearing any obvious makeup.
Treefinger — January 10, 2011
I saw a documentary not long back on this subject. The three girls it focused on enjoyed what they were doing to an extent (they liked dressing up mostly), but there was still a LOT of pressure from their mothers. One mother made her child get a spray tan (the part of getting made up the girl definitely didn't like), and practice her dance routines every day. This girl also wore makeup pretty much every day, unlike the other two, who did it mostly for fun or special occasion. When she lost the pageant at the end (none of the three featured girls won it), this girl also took it much worse than the others- she had a tantrum and seemed convinced that she was ugly. While I have my issues with child beauty pageants, I wouldn't begrudge the two other children entering if they wanted, but the whole thing was really fucking up that one girl's life.
Actually just googled and found the thing online: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/baby-beauty-queens/
Natalie — January 10, 2011
I found the "I look innocent but REALY..." message of the cones-under-angel-garb of this to be particularly creepy - more so than the expected "here's a little girl dressed up as a big attractive girl" content. Regardless of if this was in Madonna's original (I assume it was), ugh!
Noanodyne — January 10, 2011
You just know that there are people who think: What could possibly be wrong with grooming females to perform their proper role in society? And what better way to learn to perform femininity than a family-oriented event like a beauty pageant? Gee, dressing and acting like a sex object is empowerfulizing and the sooner girls understand that, the better! Can it be long before these pageants are providing classes in the other ancillary skills they will need to be fully-realized women - pole dancing and burlesquing?
On a horrifyingly related note, has anyone done any studies about the rates of incest in the families that participate in this sickening stuff?
Matt — January 10, 2011
I just find it completely gross that a little girl is put on stage and pretends to go from an "innocent" angel to some sort of slut/vixen in a cone bra--and she gets cheered for it (which seems to scare her). Seriously? Who are these people? This is so disgusting. She wants to go to her mom, but her mom drags her back on stage and forces her to perform. I feel like a pedophile just for watching this filth. The real study would be to follow these girls as they grow and then through their teen pregnancies. I'm sure this girl will end up on the next Jerry Springer show trying to slap another pageant girl for stealing her baby daddy.
Boner Killer — January 10, 2011
Unbelievable. Apparently marketing off your children as sex symbols is cool and a great way to raise a child. Seriously, what the hell is going on? I made a comment about this very publicly online and actually was threatened by a mum from the show...i just "didn't understand" apparently and the 3 year old "likes it"
rhea d — January 11, 2011
I hope that little girl grows up to be a feminist and gives her mom a piece of her mind.
Michele — January 11, 2011
Ugh, absolutely awful, on soooo many levels. I think, at 2 years old, most of this stuff won't be consciously remembered anyway. Sadly for that little girl, the video will always be there to remind her. Perhaps someone needs to take mom to a parenting class so she can be trained on the idea that children are NOT toys, they are living, feeling, conscious beings who need to be nurtured and protected, not exploited. Ugh!
Alyssa — January 11, 2011
The video posted on Jezebel was absolutely awful, because unlike the one in the post above, she actually does the routine. In the first video, she looks like a regular 2 year old who wants to run to her mom and play with the cones on her chest rather than dance, in the second one she looks like a trained dog. It's disgusting. She has no way of knowing what those gestures and dance moves MEAN. Kids need a safe space to explore and develop their sexualities in their own time, there is no way she could ever have such a space with a family willing to exploit her like this.
Anon — January 13, 2011
the strip club next to my apartment is looking for dancers. i am sure they will take her... i bet her mom make a lot more money that way
nobody — March 19, 2011
madonna cone bra pictures — June 5, 2011
[...] Toddlers, Tiaras, and Cone Bras В» Sociological Images Jan 10, 2011 … Toddlers, Tiaras, and Cone Bras … wearing a tiny version of Madonna's famous cone-bra bustier from … [...]
Altheacrawford — August 19, 2011
We are soooo hooped...I've been twisted about this for years, whatching it insidiously develop like a malignant perversion seeping into our mediated culture...I have friends that thought I was being waaay too intense about it all...being an alarmist...telling me I'm nuts...When I look directly at these mind boggelingly awful short films I feel physically & emotionally ill. It's like we're all living in a cyber slumber...WHILE WE'RE ALL BEING EXPLOITED...our very human nature...I want to cry it's so deeply disturbing. And it is happening BROADLEY---not just a few nasty moms---lots & lots of nasty moms--I can already see the traumatized outcomes in their little girls faces. It's such a bitter saddness I feel about it all. Mom's expressing their sexuallity thru their little baby girls. It's like another collective symtptom to a much bigger illness in our society.
Riah J Davis — October 1, 2011
This is SICK. Her mother just drags her around the stage and dresses her up like that... This girl is friggin TWO. It's Exploitation. Her dressed up like that isn't cute, and if anyone thinks it's sexy they need to be locked up. Her mother should be locked up for gift wrapping her for the pedofilles.
Leahnite — September 16, 2012
honestly i thought it was cute. And for the ones who think its sick then just dont dress YOUR kids like this damn all in somebody elses life what the fuck you doing with yours. NOT your kid NOT your problem, do you not everybody else.
treacle — November 4, 2012
My fucking god. If child pageantry were a black thing, there would be an endless outcry to condemn it. But no, it's all right because it's all white.
I'm sorry, but the mothers and fathers of these girls are OBVIOUSLY unfit parents and need to take some classes and get therapy, AFTER their children are removed from these abusive predatory homes and placed in safe environments and given therapy. This sexualization is no better than giving a kid alcohol and cigarettes.