Prodigy-Pimping Parenting
on 03 September 2012.

Around August 20, 2012, a story broke in the national news about a mother who had entered her 6-year-old daughter into a pageant. The character her daughter was portraying in the pageant was Dolly Parton. The misguided mother had gone the extra mile of adding fake breasts and buttocks to her daughter to “complete” the look of the buxom Ms. Parton.

The mother saw nothing wrong with what she had done. The child’s father, estranged from the mother, was immensely enraged, however. He seeks to gain custody of his daughter, citing the pageant incident as grounds for the mother being unfit to have custody of the child.
Although I cannot speak for the father’s suitability to have custody of his daughter, I certainly agree that the mother should not have custody of the child.

I’m about to speak to a general ill in American culture that some no doubt consider as American as apple pie. But “beauty pageants” and all their iterations should become extinct in this nation.

Some consider the events innocent and innocuous. Some say that the concept of pageants should not suffer because this one mother went too far. But in this day and age – when everyone knows females are still exploited for their “assets” – every hint of sexploitation needs to be brought up and decapitated.

When video vixens are bouncing around half-naked in videos, someone needs to speak out. When music divas are half-naked on-stage, gyrating and scintillating the senses of men – and the parents of these stars are managing their offsprings’ music careers, and seeing nothing wrong with their children being the focus of lust – somebody needs to speak out.

Will it be the church? Or is it just that we prefer to rake the young ladies over the hot coals of hellfire when they have never been ministered to for their damaged emotions and psyches? Perhaps the issue is that we simply prefer to teach them from the cradle that it’s their physical attributes that make them worthwhile as a human being?

Maybe I’m taking this a little too far. But it’s because for many years I struggled with an unhealthy self-image. And even though, by some “natural” standards, I would be considered attractive – it was never my physical attributes that I considered to be my most valuable traits. There was no lack of so-called God-fearing men who made it clear that they found me physically attractive. The problem as far as I was concerned was that God didn’t put me on this earth to be a sidekick to someone who valued my appearance above all else that God endowed me with.

This is sad but true nonetheless. I once met a gentleman who asked me, after a brief greeting and initial cordial conversation, had I been married before. When I told him no, his response was, “It’s such a waste.” My immediate thought was, “A waste of WHAT?” He could not possibly have known much about me because we had just met. So his statement had to refer to the surface attributes. What’s really so sad about that scenario is that the body of Christ is almost as shallow.

The church should take a look at what our little girls are being taught. The church should come up with strategies to address it rather than attack the young ladies when they grow up. All the young ladies know at that point is what they’ve been taught all their lives about their value.

The little girls in such pageants as “Toddlers and Tiaras” are being taught by the public-at-large that their chests and bottoms (real or fake) have entertainment value. They are being taught by the public-at-large, at 3-years-old mind you, to shake and shimmy, and that such behavior is what they are expected to do as females to have value in this world.

A few years ago, a friend and I attended a dance recital conducted by the owner of a dance studio. A coworker’s son was participating in the hip hop dance segment. The dance segments were broken up into all the different types of dance lessons offered by the studio. All of the show was pretty good – except for the segment with the little girls. They couldn’t have been more than 4-5 years old. And their segment was complete with shimmy-n-shake, like a Vegas night club act or something similarly as adult as that. It was totally out of place and lacking in taste for whomever trained the little girls to dance like that. And then they had the nerve to place the little girls on display in a public arena.

I was a witness to a fashion show conducted by a photography studio in 2011. I was appalled at how the little girls had been taught to “walk” the runway. They were twisting their hips so wildly that it would have been hilarious had the deeper undercurrent not been offensive. But I recall one very elegant little one in the talent show. She must’ve been 6-10 years old. She had such a runway presence of grace that I knew instantly that her parents had taught her that to be a young lady meant to be lady-like – not whore-like.

Hopefully that little girl will adhere to those principles when she matures. And my prayer for the others – and the millions like them – is that they will be enlightened and nurtured out of the mentality that is instilled in them from the time they barely know that they are little girls. The mentality of “Toddlers and Tiaras” and similar programs is what leads to “girls gone wild.” And the church seems content to attack them rather than seek to heal them.

Prodigy-pimping parents need to be helped and enlightened. It’s almost like what the Lord Jesus said to the Pharisees: “You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” (Matt. 23:15 NIV)

The parents of these toddlers are making the children twice as much a child of hell than the parents are. And the church isn’t saying much about it, until the grownup toddlers show up in the house of God as young ladies. And then they are bashed instead of ministered to.

Heaven help us all.