Examinging the hype behind 'Toddlers and Tiaras'

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- "Toddlers & Tiaras" is a hit reality show that goes inside the world of toddler pageants. 3TV takes a closer look at the hype behind the show and why controversy always seems to follow the contestants.

"The amount of makeup, the extremes of makeup, the spray tans on these little ones, really raises my concerns," said clinical child psycholosgist Beth Onufrak. "To me it sends the message that the natural beauty of you is not beautiful enough."

To compete in what's known as a glitz pageant, the young girls put on makeup, false teeth known as flippers and fake fingernails. Many even get fake tans.

"We've just departed from who that child is in her natural state," Onufrak points out. "Girls might end up pursuing relationships where they feel that level of appreciation for their externals rather than someone liking them for who they really are inside."

The emphasis on beauty could create social challenges for these young girls as they get older.

"I worry that it may be harder for those kids to be developing good solid frienship skills that will give them resillience in the future and help them really be liked for who they are and not just for the moment they are the beauty queen," Onufrak said.

Onufrak would rather see these girls spending time developing a skill, something she sees lacking in pageants.

"How your face looks with false teeth and false eyelashes and spray tans is not a talent," she said.

Christian Granda put his daughter, Ellie, in her first pageant when she was 6 months old.

"Pageants and dance is my thing with her, it's our sport," he said.
Now 7 years old, Ellie competes monthly. Her drive and dedication caught the attention of TLC producers and she was selected to be part of "Toddlers & Tiaras" last season. Her parents say they probably won't be invited back.

"They won't film Ellie again because it's the norm and that's not what the bigwigs want to see, they want to see Mackenzie Myers, drama sells, and all those girls that are crying and having a binkie in their mouth when they're 4 and a half," Barbie Granda said.

The new season of "Toddlers & Tiaras" begins Dec. 7 on TLC.  

To learn more about Beth Onufrak, visit www.Drbeth.org