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TLC Show To Feature 'Pageant Prince'


TLC beauty pageant series Toddlers and Tiaras will feature its first pageant prince tonight, when Brock Ritter, a 7-year old boy who hopes to perform on Broadway when he grows up, joins the show.

While it's fantastic Brock's parents are so supportive of their tap-dancing son, and his presence on the show will help open people's eyes to bullying based on perceived sexuality -- Brock's mom says he's been picked on since he was in kindergarten -- I find the entire concept of this show -- grooming children to be beauty stars -- to be completely problematic and more than a little exploitative.

But, then again, it was Brock's decision to get into the business, and if it makes him happy, that's wonderful! I am, in a word, conflicted.

What's your opinion on this, reader: is Brock's rise to fame a blessing, or a curse? Should children, male or female, be enrolled in beauty contests?

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  1. I have to go back and watch "Little Miss Sunshine". No, I don't - it's perverse for parents to impose the Barbie and Ken plastic universe on 5 year-olds. Childhood should be a time of play and fun (and dressing up in your mother's clothes, makeup and shoes) not pretending to be a miniature adult. If he wants to go to Broadway, he should study a musical instrument, voice, acting, dance and get adopted by NPH and/or Hugh Jackman.

    Posted by: Hue-Man | Jul 6, 2011 6:56:34 PM

  2. These things come down to the parents, don't they? Some parents treat their kid like a chihuahua in a dress, others are responsible and supportive. With the appropriate support system, kids with the performing urge will fulfill their own potential and have wonderful lives. Brock is probably straight, based on statistics, but who cares? It's the parents that resolve the conflict, IMO.

    Posted by: Russell | Jul 6, 2011 7:01:14 PM

  3. No one of any sex or age should EVER be in a beauty pageant. The whole idea is morally repugnant.

    Posted by: BOOKMAN | Jul 6, 2011 7:09:31 PM

  4. The pagaent programs are gross and it is a way for parents to push their dreams on their kids. But if an enthusiastic, talented boy wantst to use an existing system to showcase his skills, good for him. Justin Timberlake was a pageant prince. It was one of his few outlets when he was very young.

    Posted by: Conrad | Jul 6, 2011 7:19:09 PM

  5. Child beauty pageants tend to evoke a visceral response; every time I think of one, I go back to those nauseating 90s-era images of Jon Benet Ramsey. The Botox-injecting Mom may have been a hoax, but it doesn't seem that far off from some of the reprehensible things these parents do.

    I guess the question I have to ask child beauty pageant supporters is this: what's the purpose of dressing little girls (and boys) up to look like adults? Is it supposed to be cute? Is there ever a worry about sexualizing children?

    Posted by: Nat | Jul 6, 2011 7:36:51 PM

  6. Beauty Pageants? No. If the kid can tap dance and wants to do theater, yes.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 6, 2011 7:44:53 PM

  7. As a mom of two girls and watching how they are told so early on by society that beauty is everything...I cannot support this. I'm sorry he is bullied and I'm happy he is building self-esteem, but there are other ways.

    There's children's theater, for example.

    That documentary on the pageant circuit was brutal. I could never do that to a child.

    Posted by: Rin | Jul 6, 2011 7:54:33 PM

  8. Please. The mothers ALWAYS say "Oh I don't push this at all! Little Tyffyny/Brock is the one who wants to do the pageants!" Ummm, BS!! Sure, little girls and some little boys like to play dress-up. But NO kid wants to sit through fittings, endless make-up sessions, being plucked, prodded, and poked, and practicing those silly-@ss routines over and over. All you have to do is look at the kids' rictus grins onstage and the misery on their faces when the judges aren't looking.

    ALL of this is the parents, almost always the mother, living their own dreams through their kids. As someone else said, if you kid wants to be onstage then enroll them in community theater classes.

    Speaking of Jon-Benet Ramsey, not long after that whole story broke I saw an interview with a casting agent for commercials who'd interviewed Patsy and Jon-Benet. She stated unequivocally that pageant kids are USELESS for TV shows and even commercials because they're like little robots, all spontaneity trained out of them, all personality gone.

    Posted by: Codswallop | Jul 6, 2011 7:57:13 PM

  9. though not a fan of child pageants, my basis for that is due to the huge amount of controlling parents who literally force their kids into it. If the kids want to partake on their own, then that's a different story. This kid wants to - so he should have every right to. I hope he kicks their little asses !!

    Posted by: Tre | Jul 6, 2011 8:13:11 PM

  10. For a site that seems to be fascinated with posting multiple stories from the garbage show "What Would You Do?" I find it puzzling that they would find THIS show problematic and exploitative. Both are exploitative garbage reality shows and are equally disgusting.

    Posted by: Ian | Jul 6, 2011 8:16:55 PM

  11. honestly how is it any worse than forcing a kid into little league?

    I'm a fan of T&Ts and on the show they display a decent range of people- some parents obviously forcing kids, some seeing it as an opportunity to spend a saturday with their kid and get them more comfortable getting up in front of crowds, which is a life skill, unlike batting. They also show a mix of the natural girls (no makeup, hair done by mom) and the.. I think it's glitz girls (kids done up like adults). The former is really no more noxious than a flower girl at a wedding or dressing up for first communion... the latter is, to me, exploitative. However, I don't think the whole pageant system is robbing children en masse of their childhood (which has only been around since modern times).

    Posted by: MadM@ | Jul 6, 2011 8:23:01 PM

  12. It's so complex when dealing with kids. You want to model good decisions to them, but on the other hand they may really go for this pageant gig, and you don't want to hold them back either. Loving selfless parents who know their kids will find the balance easily. I'd try and find less exploitative outlets for my child's creative yearnings though.

    If the boy truly enjoys the little prince scene then more power to him. I wanted an Easy Bake Oven when I as five but because I was a boy I couldn't have one. I'm glad those days are nearly behind us.

    Posted by: Tone | Jul 6, 2011 8:28:28 PM

  13. Why is this still up!? Big news:

    Posted by: Dan4444 | Jul 6, 2011 8:34:36 PM


    Posted by: CRISPY | Jul 6, 2011 8:34:54 PM

  15. The pageant scene is NO DIFFERENT than fathers and mothers who played sports as children and then push their kids to participate in it at young ages. The child sports leagues are brutal these days. I see this as no different. Sing and dance on Brock!

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Jul 6, 2011 8:51:53 PM

  16. 'Picked on since Kindergarten' Jesus things are getting worse. Maybe instead of beauty pagents they could try homeschooling.

    Posted by: Michael Singh | Jul 6, 2011 8:56:39 PM

  17. Children are incapable of making decisions that are in their own best interest. That is the job of the parent. Then again, alot of parents aren't capable of making decisions that are in the best interest of the child either. I say no to child beauty pagents. Unlike other competitions where you're being judged on a skill, "Beauty" is waaay to vague and personal a concept. No one adult or child should be judged on Beauty.

    Posted by: Gary | Jul 6, 2011 9:28:53 PM

  18. "But, then again, it was Brock's decision to get into the business..."

    @Andrew: This kind of logic is bizarre to me. When I was seven years old, it was my "decision" to eat chocolate ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but my mother said NO, and that was that. Good parents say no to their kids when the kids want to do something that is bad for them, because the parents are (theoretically) more mature and experienced than the kid. If the point is that this boy is drawn to things that are traditionally "for girls," it's great that his mother supports him--but pageants are terrible for children, no matter what their gender-identification or sexuality is.

    Posted by: Thomasina | Jul 6, 2011 9:31:28 PM

  19. Andrew, I defended you earlier against unfair criticism, but you hardly need to end posts with "What's your opinion, reader?" Towleroad readers are hardly a recalcitrant bunch.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 6, 2011 9:33:10 PM

  20. Being a kid isn't easy. Being a parent isn't one either. Opinion only here, contests like these are crap but they are growing into the next reality series (there's a new one coming on with some truck-driver looking dance teacher....). I can't remember at age 7 knowing what i wanted to do - or at age 30 for that matter. Both of my kids wanted to be one thing one day and another thing the next. Let the kid be a kid before he ends up in rehab like all of the rest.

    Posted by: TyInTenn | Jul 6, 2011 9:49:27 PM

  21. Let the kid do what he wants to do. The parents are supportive, they clearly love him...that is all that really matters. He will grow up to be a super cool kid with great parents. Some kids play on motorbikes, some play with fake guns, some are raised with the bible, some are raised learning to tap dance. The little fella has a big grin on his face so i suspect he is a boy destined for bright lights and big city so let it will be.

    Posted by: Paul | Jul 6, 2011 9:55:33 PM

  22. "The pageant scene is NO DIFFERENT than fathers and mothers who played sports as children and then push their kids to participate in it at young ages. The child sports leagues are brutal these days. I see this as no different"

    It depends on the sports league and the level of play. Frankly, kids who don't exhibit early talent have a great time, because the competitiveness never transitions from them to the parents. It's the kids who display a modicum of skill from the get-go that are then molded by coaches and parents and experience all the demands of success.

    Posted by: Nat | Jul 6, 2011 10:20:00 PM

  23. Hmmmm... well, dressing your kids up to look like playboy centrefolds sounds like child pornography to me. Perhaps all these parents should be arrested.

    Posted by: Bravo | Jul 6, 2011 10:28:45 PM

  24. Personally, I'm against pageants, but it's cool they let a boy in so...go Brock!

    Posted by: Nik | Jul 6, 2011 11:01:01 PM

  25. Regardless of how you feel about pageants or the parents or how ridiculous this show is...the mom of Brock was incredibly supportive and it was heartwarming and encouraging to see how positive his home environment was. He wants to be a diva? Mom loves him. He wants to be Dorothy for Halloween for years in a row? Mom loves him. Brock is in a positive environment and that environment includes him feeling good about his accomplishments at pageants.

    Posted by: Ben | Jul 7, 2011 12:00:40 AM

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