Do you remember those candy cigarettes that used to be available in the checkout aisle when we were kids? (If you’re pushing 40 like I am?) They still have them in Germany, I just saw some this summer when I was visiting, and I bet they’re still available in some areas of the US if you look hard enough. (You can find them on Amazon if you’re feeling nostalgic or need them as props for an adult party as some commenters there mention.) Anyway that’s what I’m reminded of when I see this story. Apparently a little Toddlers and Tiaras star, Destiny, 4, was featured in a skit during one of the beauty pageants using a prop cigarette. She was playing Sandy from “Grease,” and now there’s a big uproar over the portrayal of a preschooler smoking a cig. Just Fab has an overview of the controversy and the clip, above. Here’s how the mom explains her decision to let her daughter use a prop cigarette. Note that the little girl keeps asking for a real cigarette, and when she says “I’ve got to get my cigarette ready” the mom laughs like it’s the funniest thing:
“Sandy [in Grease] comes out and throws down a cigarette… so Destiny’s going to do that.
“We feel like, that’s a part of acting and it’s part of the routine. So we’ve added it in there and I believe she will do just fine with it.
“It’s nowhere a real cigarette… If she’s going to do acting and things like that, than she’s going to have to act out the part.
“I don’t think I will get criticized for the cigarette. Sandy was a good girl and she didn’t smoke either and she used it for image. I believe everything we go well.”
Then we see the little girl Destiny at the pageant decked out in a mini leather jacket, makeup and with her hair done up like Sandy. She’s clutching a “fake” cigarette that you can’t tell isn’t a real one. The mom pushes her daughter on stage and tells her “don’t forget to smoke!” You hear a gasp from the audience that may or may not have been added afterwards for effect.
This is kind of outrageous, but as I’ve said before in other T&T stories, would they do it if there weren’t cameras around? Would they do it if there wasn’t the hope of a spin-off if their daughters outshine the competition? These pageant moms are already giving their daughters eyebrow waxes, spray tans, bleaching their teeth and traveling long distances with them to compete. Giving a four year old a fake cigarette isn’t the worst thing they’ve done. As Honey Boo Boo’s mom reasoned when explaining why she gives her daughter Red Bull and Mountain Dew, “There are far worse things I can do to my child.” She should know.
In related news, Toddlers and Tiara’s spinoff “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” is getting such good ratings that a recent episode got more viewers than the Republican National Convention coverage. I’m not going to comment on whether that’s a good or bad thing, because I honestly don’t know.