Spray Tans, Fake Teeth and Diapers


Claire O'Halloran, Features Editor

It first came to my attention one Friday night in August, in the midst of watching the famous Shark Week on Discovery Channel.  I was pulling the usual check-every-channel-to-see-if-anything-worth-my-time-is-on, when all of a sudden an abnormally tan girl, plastered in makeup, wearing a wig that looked about twice her size, came on the screen.

This girl turned out to be about 6 years old.

 According to ABC news, she was the one of the estimated 250,000 children to compete in a pageant in the United States each year.                                                                                                     

There was something wrong with that picture. 

 As disturbing as this sight was for me to see, it was also intriguing, and so I then proceeded to find and watch another episode of the famous TLC hit, “Toddlers in Tiaras.” 

 What I saw in that hour was one of the most shocking things I’ve ever witnessed. 

 I got to witness a day in the life of Peyton, a 2-year-old pageant girl who got her first spray tan at 11 months old.

She hadn’t even cracked the one-year mark.

Peyton’s mom continued to take her to over 50 more spray tan sessions in the hopes that it would increase her chances of winning the pageant title.  

This one scene alone was very troubling to me.  Although spray tanning is supposedly one of the safest methods of getting a tan, I found it hard to believe that getting 50 spray tans in two years could do no damage at all.

So as I researched the effects of obsessive spray tanning, I came across the fact that “Only 11% of all substances used in cosmetics have been tested and approved by FDA,” according to Spray Tan Byron Bay.

Not only have they not been tested, but also many spray tanners contain up to 45 different ingredients.  It’s hard to believe it is safe to put that many chemicals on the skin of a toddler up to 50 times. 

But that was only one of the troubling segments I witnessed in the hour-long show. 

When I was a toddler, of course I enjoyed my days of dressing up as a princess for Halloween, and wearing the ever so popular Snow-White costume.  But I can honestly say that never in my princess obsession phase did my parents suggest that fake teeth would be the perfect complement to my white and red dress. 

Yes, fake teeth are part of the extent these pageant parents go to to make their children-or should I say dolls-look flawless.

In a world where media makes a person’s image seem like the only thing to live for, these parents are sending their children on a downward spiral.

If celebrities like Lindsay Lohan crash and burn in their early twenties, then these toddlers, who are essentially being told that they are not attractive without a wig, fake teeth, and a spray tan, must be headed for a mid-life crisis at age 10.

Obsessive pageant parents, Barbie’s were a fad when you were 12.  Your 4-year-old child should not be treated like that life-size Barbie you used to have. 

So toddlers, put the tiaras down.