Most Controversial TV Show: 'Toddlers and Tiaras' overtly sexualized children while emotionally abusing them
Time and again beauty pageants have been slammed by several critics for promoting unrealistic beauty standards and causing self-esteem and body image issues among women, especially young girls. Despite the problematic nature of these pageants among adults, TLC went ahead and decided to greenlight a beauty pageant show for toddlers. Despite being at the receiving end of a lot of backlash, the show managed to stay on-air for seven seasons.
Instead of playing in a sandbox or enjoying candies, a bunch of little girls were nudged into the beauty pageant world by their over-zealous stage-moms. These young girls and their mothers were the center of the plotline for TLC's highly controversial show 'Toddlers and Tiaras'. The show had girls as young as three behaving like adults. They were made to walk on a ramp, watch their weight, showcase their talents, etc, on stage.
One of the biggest stars to emerge from this show is none other than Honey Boo Boo aka Alana Thompson and her mother Mama June. On the show, we saw Honey Boo Boo's mother serving her daughter 'go-go juice'. This juice was supposed to help the then six-year-old Alana stay alert throughout the day, and stay lively and get through the grueling demands of the pageant world. The secret go-go juice recipe turned out to be a concoction created by Mama June, which involved a mix of Mountain Dew and Red Bull.
While Mama June and Alana loved the juice and swore by it, the audience and fans began expressing concern over the young beauty queen's health. They felt that such a large dose of caffeine was bad for a child and called out Mama June for it. Mama June refused to bow down and defended her concoction passionately by saying, "Everybody does it. There are normal people who give their kids this, so why is it such a big issue with us pageant moms that do it all weekend to keep our kids energized and awake?"
Aside from the problematic dietary habits of these young girls, the overt sexualization was also a recurring yet problematic theme on the show. Girls as young as three were made to wear padded bras and padded butts among other things, by their mothers. In fact, the show was pulled off air after it was slammed heavily for promoting a little girl wearing Julia Roberts's infamous hooker costume from 'Pretty Woman'. The highly inappropriate clothing was paired with fake smoking to make it more realistic.
After being called out for years, TLC finally pulled the plug on the show in 2016. The overt sexualization and abuse of these little toddlers in the name of entertainment makes 'Toddlers and Tiaras' one of the most controversial TV shows of all time.