About two and a half years ago, I finally broke down and signed up for satellite television after about a decade living in rural Kansas without. Within a week, I was beginning to regret it, because my kids found “Toddlers in Tiaras”, a ridiculous program in which girls who were barely old enough to walk “competed” in pageants to win crowns of which the mere size put winners in danger of stunting their growth. My kids couldn’t get enough of it. I don’t know what the fascination was--just a fad or passing fancy.
Recently, it seems the world has become fascinated with the “Toddlers in Tiaras” spin-off about cult beauty pageant contestant, Honey Boo Boo and her family. I can’t even bear to watch the show for the length of time it takes me to pass from the kitchen to the stairs with a load of laundry. I saw enough of her mother plying her with “go-go juice” and her whiney petulance the few times I sat and watched “TNT” long enough to get a handle on what the kids were watching.
When “Dance Moms” aired, I found it equally disturbing. If you’ve seen it, you know the moms sit around nit-picking one another and the dance instructor, while the dance instructor belittles the kids and the moms, and somehow, the kids perform some pretty amazing dance for their ages. As a mother who supports her daughters in their love of dance, I hate the idea that anyone would lump me into the category of “dance mom” with this show in mind.
Dance and pageantry often go hand in hand. While dance requires the same degree of athleticism and skill as sports, and dancers are just as susceptible to injuries, they often don’t get the recognition that sports participants do. Bad manners and cattiness is not what its all about.
Shows like “TNT”, “Dance moms” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” are billed as reality television, but fall far from the mark. They are contrived and give pageants a bad name. Real pageants are worthwhile opportunities for our young people to shine, and often further a cause they believe in. Contestants should be old enough to have had an opportunity to grow in their minds and bodies and gained skills and talents. These are the elements that should be celebrated.
In the past week, Great Bend has produced three Miss Kansas contestants, all of which competed at the Miss Barton County and Miss Golden Belt pageant on March 2. While Taylor Fry, Great Bend, won Miss Barton County, and Kaiti Hemann, Hugoton, won Miss Golden Belt, Barton County runner up Bonny Boltinghouse was named Miss Heartland at the Miss Kansas Sweeps pageant in Pratt last weekend. And, having seen each compete, I have to say I was impressed. They are all beautiful, smart, talented and accomplished young women, and deserve to be recognized.
And its not just for girls. At the same time Boltinghouse was competing to win her title, Great Bend High School Kayettes hosted the Mr. Perfect Panther pageant to raise funds to support a local goodwill gesture. Even though it is only done in good fun, it too spotlighted the fitness and talents of the contestants. I went prepared for something that poked fun at pageants, but left feeling impressed by the talents and tastefulness of the event. Kudos to those involved on all fronts.