The concept of the Public Sphere according to Jurgen Haberman is the ‘space’ in which citizens openly debate about common issues, without the State and official economy. The public sphere has enhanced the opinions of society and the illuminates the issues surrounding ‘popular’ media texts. Alan McKee views the ‘public sphere’ as “a metaphor that we use to think about the way that information and ideas circulate in large societies.” The mediated public sphere has enabled domestic, emotional and personal issues existing in the public culture to be brought to life.
Toddlers and Tiaras is a highly controversial American TV series that airs on TLC and is debated in the public sphere for all the wrong reasons. The show explores the crazy competitive world of child beauty pageants and the quest for perfection. But looking for perfection is asking for trouble. The young girls or should I say living Barbie dolls are paraded around wearing excessive amounts of makeup, false eye lashes, fake hair and how can we forget to mention Barbie will not be complete without her Malibu spray tan. This is evident in the below picture.
The young children are judged on their beauty, personality and costume. Even the pushy stage mums and Dad’s get involved to make sure there precious Barbie wins the ultimate supreme title and prize money. The main issue that is debated in the mediated public sphere is allowing the sexualisation of young girls.
The below image caused an uproar when the young pageant girl on the front cover of Peoples Magazine had striking similarities with the actress inside the cover page. The over-the-shoulder glance of the young pageant girl and the actress placed emphasis on the debated issue of sexualisation. Was it just a coincidence the photographs were taken in the same direction or were they encouraging the sexualisation of the young girl?
On other occasions, young pageant girls were sexualised by their provocative costumes and dance routines. Throughout the show, young girls were dressing up in skimpy cloths imitating Julia Roberts as a prostitute in ‘Pretty Woman’. Others went to the extreme by wearing stuffed bras in the aim to imitate Dolly Parton. The sexualisation of children should not be allowed, but “Toddlers and Tiaras” seems to be promoting and exploiting young children all in the name for ratings.
The father of beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey revealed to ABC News his thoughts on today’s controversial pageant “Toddlers and Tiaras” describing it as “very bizarre.” It made me think has the show gone past the level of being just fun and harmless? The issues raised in the mediated public sphere reveal young children are made to believe the prettiest girl will always win. As a result this may lead to a lack of self-esteem and may become an issue in their teenage years. Ultimately, we should just let the child act like a child and not force it to grow up so quickly.