Pretty Expensive Hobby?
"When my daughter, Mary, won her first pageant when she was 16 months old, we really got locked in," says Amber.
Amber's mother-in-law, Karen, doesn't feel comfortable with the image her granddaughter projects in the pageants. "The clothes that they wear are very short, glitzy, sexually provocative. It could attract pedophiles," she says. "If you feel a child can perform like that, put them in acting class, not as a spectacle."
"[Mary] loves playing dress up and having her hair done," Amber says. Holding a hairpiece aloft, she says, "This is a mini wiglet. Usually, it's styled. It's curly, and you put it up on top."
"Does a 2-year-old really need fake hair? Does she really need a lot of makeup? Why can't the child just be a child?" Karen asks.[AD]
Amber admits that she buys acrylic nails and spray tans for the tot. Rummaging through a bag of makeup, she says, "We have lip liner, and we add sparkles."
"I love sparkle lips!" Mary says.
"My greatest fears are what values Mary will end up with. Does everything have to be perfect? Let's say she has a crooked tooth. Does she have to immediately go get it fixed?" Karen asks rhetorically.
"I have considered getting the fake pageant teeth," Amber says. "I love the pageant experience as much as Mary does."
Taking a seat onstage in front of Amber, Dr. Phil says, "What's you're goal here?"
"It's a hobby. It's fun for us to do together, and we get to travel together," Amber replies.
"That's a pretty expensive hobby, isn't it?" Dr. Phil asks Amber.
"Yeah, it is," she admits.
"I'm not a fan of [pageants] overall. I really am not," Dr. Phil says. "I don't understand why there is this emphasis on dressing kids up and making them up like they're much older. Why not have a pageant for the best-looking 2-year-old? The best-looking 3-year-old, 4-year-old, 5-year-old?"
Dr. Phil says that a child's personality and value systems haven't fully formed by 2 years old. "By the time they're 5, they do start setting some markers. They start beginning to form personalities, and values and deciding how they're going to define themselves," he explains. "You're really not in a danger zone about this yet, but I really wonder where you're headed with this."
"I don't know," Amber says. "There's a lot I said I'd never do that I ended up doing."
"In the interest of being balanced, number one, I want to say that little girls love playing dress up, and that can be a great thing that you guys can do together," Dr. Phil says. "But there's a point at which this, in my view, can really become dysfunctional."
"We've put away for her college," Amber says. "I wouldn't do it if I thought it was going to get her into school or in movies. It's just something for us to do together."
Dr. Phil turns to Karen. "How am I doing there, Mother-in-Law?" he asks.
"Great!" she says with a huge grin.
Read Dr. Phil's blog on pushy parents!