Mannequins in My Closet

When I think of guilty pleasures, nothing fills me with more shame or more delight than a little TLC show called, “Toddlers and Tiaras.” Seen it? It’s okay, this is a safe zone (and the safe word is “glitz”). Go on, admit it. You love it, too.

It turns out there’s a lot to learn when it comes to little miss-guided pageants. My mom likes to tell me I was born during a Miss America pageant and that’s why I have this strange obsession. For example, do you know how they get those perfect smiles? Something called a ‘flipper,’ which is a fake set of snowy white teeth that the children snap over their gap-toothed imperfections. The parents shell out about $300 and send a mold in the mail to Never Never Land, even though their kids quickly outgrow this accessory. This says nothing of the thousands they spend on bedazzled dresses, ‘falls’ for the hair, fake nails and spray tans. All for a 2-foot tall trophy, if they’re lucky.

I was horrified when the previews first began to air, but alas, my will power was no match for the man behind TLC’s curtain. My moral compass imploded as I watched a 3-year-old, doing Madonna for her ‘talent,’ walk on stage in a gold, cone-shaped bustier. You know it’s bad when the other pageant moms gasp.

The pageant directors are a spectacle of their own, the ghosts of dreams past lurking behind the feverish glint in their eyes. They take their jobs VERY seriously, but can’t even seem to string a sentence together as they stand behind a rickety wooden podium announcing the contestants. They give you a glimpse into the corrupt world of pageantry, hinting that the judges already have a favorite or that the entry fees were misallocated and the pageant might have to be canceled. I drove all the way from Louisiana and all I got was a 5-year-old hyped up on Pixie Stix? I think not.

My absolute favorite element of all of this is the pageant fathers. Really? Really, Ava’s mom from Texas? Really, Jayla’s mom from West Virginia? Do you REALLY think he’s in it for moral support? You might want to check his closet for that missing feather boa. And don’t be surprised by what else you find in there.

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