Right at the beginning of this episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, we're told everything is bigger and better in Texas.
First we met mom Chelsea and daughter Emerald, age 3. The first thing Emerald asked is "Hey pageant people, you want a piece of me?" Which makes me think that there are a lot of Britney Spears reference going on in their home.
The family is Quaker, which creates a conflict: Quakers believe that people should be equal, and pageants are about winning. Because of this, the family doesn't focus on winning, but being the best possible person.
The family has a fun, although unsanitary game for Emerald. When she does well at a routine, the family plays chocolate bowling. In this game, mom and dad throw chocolate chips into Emerald's mouth as she lies on the floor. If her parents miss, Emerald will, in her own words, find the chip and "suck it up like a vaccuum."
I have to say, I really like this family. Mom and Emerald put on a practice pageant at the CLC, an organization that helps people find jobs. While this doesn't help people find work, it's a nice, free distraction for those who don't have the cash to do expensive activities.
Also, mom, dad and Emerald are all only children, so they truly appreciate the family experience. The family seems really healthy, and it seems like they participate in pageants responsibly. Emerald's family keeps her makeup limited (even in glitz pageants), takes Emerald's photos rather than paying for them and has strong relationships with other families who do pageants for fun, not to cause trouble. Plus, Emerald is way less spoiled than some of the other girls. I also think that she genuinely wants to be in pageants.
Mom Beth and daughter Baylen, age 3, came next. For celebrity wear, Baylen was dressing as Elvis. Baylen protested a lot of activities throughout the episode, and her attitude seemed to cause at least a decent amount of stress for her parents.
Third was mom Kylene and Allyson, nicknamed Ally. Ally's four years old. The first thing we learned about Ally is that 'she wants to be brown.' Like, she has prayed for darker skin and only wants to play with non-white dolls. Since she's obsessed with being a bride and being brown (mom's words, not mine), she's dressing up as Beyonce from the BET awards.
Ally is probably one of the only girls on all of Toddlers and Tiaras that loves spray tanning. She begged her mom for it until she allowed her to do it. This ties in with her love of dark skin.
Mom Kylene puts a strong focus on having a good attitude, which is helpful in the pageant world, but Ally didn't seem to want anything to do with that.
The Glamorous Beauties Pageant in Center, Texas features three categories: Beauty, Outfit of Choice, and Red Carpet or Celebrity Wear, in which kids dress up like celebrities such as Lady Gaga and other people that are probably way too mature for them.
Director Tonya Bailey filled us in on the facts that girls from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. The Ultimate Grand Supreme would take home a prize package and a $500 savings bond, plus a crown and sash.
Allyson was hilarious during pageant preparation. She was very clear about not wanting fake eyelashes in, and said "This is getting aggravating." It was cute - she whined about it but wasn't obnoxious.
Emerald did great in beauty. He smile was solid and she had stage presence. Mom looked so happy and supportive, which was awesome. Decked out in pink, Baylen looked like a Barbie...but also a deer in headlights when she hit the stage. She first tried to run off stage, then walked around aimlessly. Ally looked okay, but she didn't smile in the beginning of her routine and her dress didn't fit terribly well.
Outfit of choice came next. Emerald was dressed as a cheerleader. Ally was Shirley Temple, despite her desire to be Beyonce. Baylen was Rocky...you know, the boxer. Not the most glamorous outfit of choice, but what do I know?
Emerald did great and was clearly happy to be performing Outfit of Choice. A judge noted that she wasn't flawless, but her face shows desire to participate and the fact that she worked hard. Baylen just stood on stage at the beginning of her routine and didn't do much more after that. Even so, she said she thought she did well. Allyson was awesome as Shirley Temple. Her smile wasn't perfect the whole time, but she kept her composure well, even when stepping on her lollipop prop.
Emerald's runway wear was Rainbow Brite. Once again, adorable. What was nice that the outfit and performance weren't sexy or inappropriate at all. Emerald had fun and danced around appropriately. You know, like a kid. Baylen was Elvis, and during preparation for this competition, she looked bored and listless. Mom took to bribing her with gum, saying that if she performs well she'll be rewarded with gum. Despite the bribe, Baylen clearly had no desire to be onstage and barely moved. She still wanted her gum, showing that the gum is given no matter what, even for a bad performance. Allyson dressed as Beyonce in a bridal dress. It was a nice moment when mom got choked up thinking about her daughter as a bride because it's obviously way too soon for such things. Allyson truly enjoyed herself, and while she's not the most coordinated, she did show the judges that she loved what she was doing.
A contestant named Kelly took a Princess crown in the 2 to 3 year old division, and Baylen took Queen. Honestly, this is beyond me. Was there some part of the pageant that we missed, other than the aimless standing on stage or falling in front of the judges? Clearly, there's a reason I'm not a pageant judge.
Madison took the Princess title in Ally's division, and Kaylee took Queen.
This means that Ally and Emerald were in for the major titles.
Dayvie won Overall Glitz Photo
Allyson won Overall Natural Photo
Alyssa won Beauty Supreme
Carissa won Mini Supreme
Emerald won Grand Supreme
Emerald was adorable at crowning. She ran onstage with a huge smile. She fell onstage, but popped back up with a smile on her face. The fact that Emerald won a glitz pageant with less makeup and overall glitz than some of the other girls is refreshing!
Some thoughts about kids in pageants
I fully respect moms and their desires to enroll their kids in pageants, but it drives me nuts when the kids clearly don't want to be there. I know it's not fair to judge whether kids truly enjoy pageants from one episode of Toddlers and Tiaras because a kid may just have a bad day, but it just seemed like Baylen didn't want to be on stage at all. We've also seen this on other episodes of the show, where kids don't want to practice, cry during spray tans and then throw tantrums at the pageant.
I'm also a bit miffed by babies participating in pageants. In today's Toddlers and Tiaras, a baby spit up all over her pageant dress. It's like, how young is too young? I can see the appeal of having a baby in a pageant because the kid is too young to protest much or be spray tanned, but if there's any question about whether mom or daughter wants to be in pageants when the kid's a bit older, it's obviously for the moms at this point. Plus, arguments about pageants building character and confidence can hardly apply when the kid isn't even aware of her surroundings.
Next week on Toddlers and Tiaras, we'll see Eden Wood's last pageant ever before she heads for Hollywood. It doesn't seem to go well. Maybe Eden's mom pulled her out of pageants because she wasn't performing well, not because she thinks Hollywood is really the most natural next move. We'll see!
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