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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. Hmm... Brock surely isn't the first boy on the show (there was at least Peyton from season 1, episode 8, who was 6 and whose father wanted him to retire so as to not become a florist). However, I have to give TLC credit for highlighting the aspects of bullying and competing on the same ground as the other girls.

    Shows like toddlers and tiaras come off as seeming exploitative, but what I see are some parents realizing their dreams through their children (isn't that why we have them?) and some parents who are at their child's every whim. Just a great study of generational power struggles, y'all.

    Posted by: Eggrollstan | Jul 7, 2011 12:07:18 AM

  2. Even if parents making their kids do sports are living out their dreams through their children (just like parents making their kids do pageants) there is a big difference: a kid playing sports doesn't look like a miniature stripper for strangers to stare at. I am very uncomfortable with seeing children parade around looking like that. Although I do give credit to this boy's mom for being so supportive of his "non-traditional" interests.

    Posted by: Mark | Jul 7, 2011 1:35:00 AM

  3. No. These shows creep me out, big time.

    Mostly because you have self-deluding parents saying "X loves it". When X is a five year old girl who's just suffered the misfortune of having her eye brows waxed.

    Surely there should be a period in your life when you aren't aware and don't have to worry about appearance. When you're five your biggest concern should be custard.

    Posted by: RyanK | Jul 7, 2011 2:14:32 AM

  4. The mother is a faghag you dweebs, she isn't frigging supportive! But then I'm sure most of you had women in your lives who you think/thought adore for you, when really they just love 'gay, gay, gay!'

    Oh, how we ever stop being a product in society when most gay men see themselves that way so much that they approve of child abuse because 'it's FABULOUS she let her son play dress up'

    Someone mentioned Justin Timberlake. That made me laugh, why didn't you mention Britney Spears? Or while we are at it, wasn't the Jackson 5 put out to work early too? Heck why don't we talk about the R.I.P Corey Haims of the world? Or Macualay Culkin?

    All those wonderfully adjusted adults who were put out to work since they were frigging 5 years old because 'Mommy!! I want tooooo! PLEEASE?'

    I agree with THOMASINA. I tried to jump off a 2 storey building because I wanted to be 'tough'. I also wanted to join a gang at one point. I also NEVER wanted to do my homework. I one point I was convinced the only thing I wanted to do was sing and join the circus.

    Thank god my mother-who wasn't great-told me to shut up and go play outside.

    Posted by: Rowan | Jul 7, 2011 3:10:58 AM

  5. We don't have children because we care, we have them because we are narcissists who crave to indoctrinate another being either through our own miserable childhood, abusive behaviours, crippling insecurities or ideology.

    Children must be the only sub group in society that is treated like scum. It seems that something happens to adults as soon as they leave being a teenager where they simply can't connect with what it is to be a child.


    Posted by: Rowan | Jul 7, 2011 3:14:57 AM

  6. @Rowan: I'm sorry that your mother wasn't great, and I know that childhood and adolescence can be difficult (believe me). But some children are actually happy, not treated like scum, and not created to fix the psychological failings of their parents.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 7, 2011 4:06:58 AM

  7. OK, I hadn't watched the clip. That woman is essentially one of my sisters-in-law. Desperate for a gay child (don't ask) or *possibly* a daughter her husband doesn't want to have because she's nuts and they're divorced or on the road to it.

    How many boys that age even know the word diva? I just hope he's telling the truth when he says he has real friends. I'm happy if he's happy, but it seems like he's going to have a hard time for the next, say, 10 years. Going to pageants will make it even worse. This publicity will hardly help.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 7, 2011 4:17:13 AM

  8. The whole "pageant"-thing should be banned for children of any sex before they're 16 or 17....for the children's sake. This is just dress-up-dolls for parents. There are plenty of dance and drama outlets for younger children with talent and a desire to perform.

    Little League Parents are bad enough....

    Posted by: Ted B. (Charging Rhino) | Jul 7, 2011 5:44:23 AM

  9. I think any parents that put their kid through beauty pageants do not have their child's best interests at heart. It's at least distasteful and possibly flat-out wrong to teach children how to become objects rather than real people.

    Posted by: Justin L Werner | Jul 7, 2011 7:26:06 AM

  10. I agree completely with Ben. I watched this episode last night (ok I watch every episode, don't judge) and I love this kid and his Mom! He's allowed to be whatever and whoever he wants, he's allowed to express himself however he wants and he's supported the entire time. He's going to grow up to be a well adjusted child who is comfortable with themselves and doesn't care what anyone else thinks. Those little girls were thinking "First the gays take our men, now they're taking our crowns!" lol

    Posted by: Kerry | Jul 7, 2011 7:59:58 AM

  11. There is a really good book, the Tao of Equus that explains women form a sociological/behavioral standpoint. There are others that go into our brain chemistry and how it impacts our outward mannerisms, and group behavior.

    Essentially, we are like horses in many ways that deal with herds and acceptance.

    These women you believe just like: gay, gay, gay...and are overly --whatever-- aren't in love with gay, gay, gay. They are trying to overcompensate for society and draw you into our group and world.

    Do you think that we women don't hear what straight men say about gay men? We hear the nasty comments and our natural instincts, right or wrong, is to protect you from the "stallions" of the herd.

    Perhaps, it is wrong how many go about it, maybe you feel diminished, but that is how we interact with each other. These women you know...they are kicking it up a notch because they want you to have a place to go, be their friend...not because women LOVE gay men--we love guys that can "put it on us" and will--but because we are socially and biologically pre-programmed to form herds.

    Why am I so involved in gay equality in my state, why do I have so many gay friends? It started because I saw that it was needed (equal rights) and because I saw those kids (now men) being picked on. NOT because I appreciated being called "faghag", which I don't. NOT because I have to collect gay friends like purses, because that's not cool. NOT because I think all gay men are FABULOUS, because they aren't.

    It's just the right thing to do.

    Would you all prefer that this mother told him that he needed to man up and play baseball?

    Sheesh. I swear, there is this weird misogyny vibe that comes out a lot on here.

    Posted by: Rin | Jul 7, 2011 8:03:47 AM

  12. @Rin: there's also a whole lot of racism. Comments on this site and many others (gay or straight) should not be read as being reflective of gay men. Your support is greatly appreciated.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jul 7, 2011 9:57:35 AM

  13. "He's going to grow up to be a well adjusted child who is comfortable with themselves and doesn't care what anyone else thinks. Those little girls were thinking "First the gays take our men, now they're taking our crowns!" lol"

    Dude, he's still a child. He's years off from figuring out his sexuality.

    I know a lot of gay men have positively responded to the 'born this way' mantra with stories of their 'fabulous' behaviour as children, but frankly that's retroactive determination. I suspect there were and are many many straight boys who wanted to play with dolls and own easy bake ovens etc. Hell, my brother was like that when he was little. He only started playing with action figures to emulate me.

    Posted by: Nat | Jul 7, 2011 10:34:55 AM

  14. I have watched Brock dance with my niece for years. This is who Brock is...his parents are supportive and he wants nothing to do with baseball or other 'traditional boy' activities. Those are available to him, but he chooses not to partake. While I don't care for this show in general, if you have watched this episode, Tori is the first non 'psycho' mom I've seen on the show, and it truly does a great job of showing that this is Brocks choice, it makes him happy and that is all that really matters. His parents should be lauded for their support of their son. Many people say that he is's too early to make that call folks...he's only 7, but when he hits puberty that could very well be true, and he has many of us that support and love him no matter what...because he is Brock! I can't wait to see him on Broadway!

    Posted by: Ashton Grey | Jul 7, 2011 11:31:03 AM

  15. So I watched this episode last night. How many of you did? Brock's inclusion was interesting to watch. The whole pageant thing, personally, for single digit aged children is kinda off ( i mean.. spray tans, fake eyelashes and mini skirts on a 5 yearold?) but Brock's inclusion was more about him wanting to be on stage and performing, than about pageantry. His mother (and I suppose his father too) are huge supporters and ought to be commended for this support. They've allowed their son, who is clearly different from other 7 year old boys (including smarter) to be broadcast across the nation.. and supported him fully in the process. They didn't try to make him different than he is, nor scold him for being a self admitted Diva. His mother was also very clear in indicating that anybody who can't accept him for who he is, isn't worthy of his friendship. He clearly loved the attention, and definitely has dance (and likely Broadway) in his future. More parents should be supportive of their children's uniqueness and not try to cover up the fact he likes girl crowns as well as boy crowns by forcing them into baseball or hockey or something else so.. typical.

    Posted by: NorthoftheBorder | Jul 7, 2011 11:56:50 AM

  16. I actually saw the episode last night (while channel flipping) and while I normally think kid pageants with the accompanying parental pressure is gross, it was clear that this little boy was WAAAY into it AND that he was actually an amazing dancer. Kudos to his Mom for letting her boy live the dream. I was proud of her and him.

    Posted by: dplummer | Jul 7, 2011 12:37:28 PM

  17. The parents of pageant kids always say "it was his/her decision." What happened to parents making decisions for their children?!? I agree with Bookman: death to beauty pageants!

    Posted by: mp | Jul 7, 2011 8:16:08 PM

  18. you stated that it was BROCK's decision… this is the problem. kids should take direction from the adults…assuming they are making sound, adult decisions…..not the other way around….enrolling him in a dance/theatre type class would be more suitable…but the pageant circuit is a big NO

    Posted by: chris keck | Jul 7, 2011 11:21:48 PM

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