This was undoubtedly one of the most horrifying displays of shallowness I’ve ever witnessed. The documentary followed three little girls who were entering the Mini Miss UK beauty pageant and as the documentary wore on, it became rapidly apparent that having money and social status does not buy you good parenting skills.
Of the three children featured – Madison, Tyla and Sasha – only Sasha’s mother Clare didn’t have her own agenda and her own ambition on the line; it also happened that she was the least wealthy and was from a working class background. She struggled to pay for everything needed for the competition but the reason she entered Sasha was because she felt the little girl needed a confidence boost.
The mothers of the other two children hurled money at the project, buying designer dresses and paying for expensive dance and singing classes and for one, even paying £200 per hour for her daughter to be coached in catwalk walking and waving.
The thing that most set Sasha’s mother apart from the other desperate wannabe mothers was that she wasn’t bothered whether Sasha won or not, and so consequently, neither was Sasha. The only slightly worrying thing as far as this mum and daughter were concerned was that Clare didn’t believe Sasha was academically gifted and therefore needed to look to a future where having “brains” wasn’t a prerequisite.
For me, Madison’s mother made the most shocking of all statements during a film full of them; she said of her daughter, “She’s got a gorgeous, beautiful figure. I know she’s only nine and people say all kids have got gorgeous figures at nine, but I don’t think so.”
I personally would be horrified if anybody said to me that a nine year old had a “gorgeous figure”. I would instantly assume they were mentally warped and/or deviant.
Madison and her family are born again Christians and during a service at their local church, the Pastor brought Madison up on stage to pray for her success in the show. If ever there’s a Billy Graham Wannabe contest, that bloke should enter. I’m sure he’d win on mock American accent and faux sincerity alone, that’s without his slimy, smarmy appearance.
As to Tyla, her mother was “worried” when her daughter was born because she wasn’t pretty. Her worry about that continued – she didn’t want an “ugly” child – and when Tyla was seven, mummy paid for her to have her ears pinned back. Mummy also insisted that Tyla wear uncomfortable contact lenses rather than glasses. Madison told the interviewer that if she wore her glasses and not her lenses, her mum would be angry.
The whole thing was hideous to watch – the layers of make-up on pre-pubescent faces, the spray tans, the plucking of eyebrows and sexualising of these children was sickening. Again, only Sasha’s mother seemed to understand the incongruity of these things and only allowed Sasha to wear “children’s” make-up, of the Barbie glitter variety. All the other kids were primped and preened as if they were about to be sold into a frightening form of slavery.
So, inevitably the day of the pageant arrived and none of the three kids featured won or were even placed in the top three. Sasha and her mum had won their own personal victory though because Sasha had summoned up the bravery to do her dance routine in front of people. For Madison and Tyla though, failure equated to being publically humiliated and told they’re simply not pretty enough or good enough.
Madison’s 14 year old sister wept hysterically and Madison herself had a foot stamping tantrum and sulk of mammoth proportions. After the film, we learned that she and her mother were now trying out for American pageants.
Tyla was “taking a break” from the pageant circuit but was still having singing lessons and Sasha had done two modelling jobs and “her confidence is soaring.”
And good for her. I really hope she continues to do well on a personal level, irrespective of how many tacky tiaras she wins.
As to Madison and Tyla’s mothers – particularly Madison’s in view of her continued determination to prostitute her child at these pageants – I hope they’ve learned something from watching this film back. Sasha has the beautiful and unblemished looks that a normal child should have, and she’s achieved more in terms of modelling than the hideously made-up children have.
Hopefully, the message will also be that your children aren’t commodities and you could be damaging them irreparably by sending them the message that how you look is the be all and end all of life.