Carina has been typing on the internets before there was a www in front of everything. This is why she’s cranky and wants to know when you’ll get off her lawn. She resides in a hopelessly outdated home in the Mountain West with a mathematician and three children hell-bent on destruction. Her laundry is not done, but her Twitter is totally up to date. Carina does not have a Tumblr, because get serious.

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Are Moms TV’s Bad Guys?

Dance Moms by Scott Gries for Lifetime

Lifetime’s newest reality show, Dance Moms, premiered last week. Focused on a Pennsylvania dance company in the middle of competition season, Dance Moms is everything you’d think it would be: a harsh task mistress, cross-country travel, choreography, music, moms obsessed with their daughters, and little girls in vaguely inappropriate outfits and makeup, and abundant tears. 

But something about it was even more familiar: mothers caught up with making their children “stars” to the exclusion of all else. You hear it in a dozen reality shows, an obsession with performance and fame.

Toddlers and Tiaras is the same way: make-up on babies, encouraging children to “shake it,” and telling us their kids are “stars.” It makes me squeamish. What are we telling these girls? That what they look like is more important than anything else? That tantrums from children AND adults is appropriate behavior? By all means, feed your kid another pixy stix so they’ll sparkle on stage. 

I admit it: we’re judging these moms, and we’re supposed to, the networks are counting on it. “What kind of mother would do that?” I hear over and over. From Supernanny to A Baby Story, and even Hoarders. Any time there’s another mother on TV we’re supposed to compare our mothering to their mothering. Is that fair? Is that right? Does it help?

I don’t know, but I do know that it sells a lot of soap.

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Comments (4)

  1. Erin Oltmanns 07/22/2011 at 4:30 pm

    Crappy parents were around long before TV decided to cash in. The part that irks me is the network and programming juggernaut that is actively seeking out and promoting these folks. They’re not putting these programs on the air because of they’re good, they’re doing it because they know it’s trash and it’s going to make everyone talk. We’re all appalled, but we all tune in so the networks get the viewers they want so they can sell advertising and make money. The more we tune in to stuff like this, the more the networks are doing to drag these people into the spotlight.

  2. Alison Kallstrom 07/21/2011 at 11:07 pm

    These shows are so disturbing. The ads for “Toddlers and Tiaras” are enough for me. Children need to be protected and these shows just exploiting them for ratings. It really is sad. I do find myself wondering what parent would want their child involved in the circus that is reality television.

  3. Raejean Roberts 07/21/2011 at 1:31 pm

    These kind of shows are a sad statement about our society. The “reality” is they are entertainment. The fact that they are on the air and people are watching them conveys that they are a dim slice of some deviant lifestyle. Over time the “stars” and the viewers get sucked into a life where fantasy takes over reality.

    I’ll keep my entertainment fictional.

  4. Emily 07/21/2011 at 9:08 am

    Oh a bored channel-surfing whim last night, I stopped at Toddlers and Tiaras. I listened to a little girl tell the camera “I feel really really really bad about myself if I don’t win a crown.” Huh?? What the freak is going on here? Can’t that kind of behavior wait until the appropriate jr high/high school days? It’s crazy talk perpetuated by a mother who, after watching her daughter on-stage, said “She did real good. She didn’t shake her booty like she I’d at home, but she did good.” I’m not even going to get in to the way this lady speaks the English language, let’s just talk about your 4 year old not shaking her freaking booty enough. I realize that we catch glimpses of their lives, but they are bad, awful glimpses. How about we get rid of shows that promote insecurity and sexuality at age four.