"Toddlers & Tiaras" continues drawing controversies with its presentation of kids and this time it receives a backlash from The Parents Television Council (PTC). The parenting group criticizes the TLC show over a promo spot which features a 3-year-old girl, Paisley, dressing as Julia Roberts' prostitute character in "Pretty Woman".
"We have a serious problem when The Learning Channel (TLC was previously addressed as this) features a toddler, who probably hasn't even learned to read, dressed as a prostitute showing off her sexy strut," says Melissa Henson, director of communications and public education for the PTC. "There's no question, TV executives are complicit in robbing these small kids of their childhood."
She goes on blasting the show for exploiting children, stating, "For years we've seen adult sexuality being inappropriately and aggressively foisted on innocent young children, but children today are being sexualized at younger and younger ages."
The promo for the episode which airs Wednesday night, September 7 shows Paisley wearing a variation on the garb donned by Roberts' character, including a white and blue dress and thigh-high black patent-leather boots. TLC has not commented on PTC's statement, but the girl's mother, Wendy Dickey, has defended her decision to dress her daughter with such costume for a pageant.
"Well, at this pageant there was an option to do celebrity-wear," Dickey says. "And we thought about what we could wear with her being a brunette and Julia Roberts is my favorite actress of all time. I thought it was real cute to do Julia. She's 3, if she was 10 I never would have considered this. But as young as she is I thought it was very comical."
To Entertainment Weekly, she explains that she made the skirt longer than Roberts' outfit in the film. She additionally insists that the costume was "less revealing than gymnastics wear and swimsuits," and "is a lot less harmful."
Revealing that she is stunned by the media's response, Dickey says, "I'm amazed it's caused this much of a frenzy. The judges loved it. Everybody except one particular mom went nuts over it. It was the cutest thing ever. It was very innocent. A lot probably would have been different if they aired the whole entire routine instead of just the hooker part."
To TMZ, Dickey claims she raises her daughter properly. "I'm raising my child just as well as any mother does ... I take my kid to church every week," she says before adding, "People need to look at their own family and what they're doing. I don't know why people are focusing so much on pageant moms when there's much more harmful things people are letting their children do!"