It was only a matter of time before the Parent’s Television Council (PTC) targetted TLC’s hit series Toddlers and Tiaras. The show is, after all, profiting from parents who parade their children around in sassy little costumes with far too much make-up, but recently there were a few instances that really got tensions flaring. First, one four-year-old was dressed up to look like Dolly Parton — complete with breast and posterior enhancements. People we so outraged by that clip that they forced TLC to shut down its Facebook page with the influx of negative comments. Now, the series has officially angered the PTC thanks to a promo for an upcoming episode in which some pageant moms criticize one particular parent for dressing her three-year-old as Julia Roberts’ prostitute character (before the classy transformation) in Pretty Woman.
The PTC issued a memo and spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the issue. “We have a serious problem when The Learning Channel features a toddler, who probably hasn’t even learned to read, dressed as a prostitute showing off her sexy strut…There’s no question, TV executives are complicit in robbing these small kids of their childhood. For years we’ve seen adults sexuality being inappropriately and aggressively foisted on innocent young children, but children today are being sexualized at younger and younger ages. All available data suggests they will suffer for it later in life,” said Melissa Henson of the PTC.
Obviously, a great deal of blame falls on TLC for broadcasting these images of children dressed in such inappropriate costumes, but the PTC seems to be issuing no call for the activities the reality series captures to stop — they’re just expressing problems with the show itself. The show brings these issues which have been ongoing for years without much public knowledge (the Dolly Parton costume was a hand-me down from the four-year-old’s mother, who used to do the toddler pageant circuit) into our collective consciousness. TLC shows little tact by showing the toddlers so excessively in their age inappropriate costumes, so it makes sense that the PTC would want to make clear how much of an issue they create. But perhaps, what may (and should) come out of all of this, is an examination of the real-life situation that bore the baby-prostitute costume. Of course, that would require ruffling some feathers that are a little tougher than those of TLC’s Facebook administrators.