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"Toddlers & Tiaras" Pageant Dads: Creepy or Cool?

Child Pageant WinnerIf you watch TLC’s “Toddlers and Tiaras,” you’re probably already familiar with Lon Enos, dad of 11-year-old Hali’a, and David Perez, dad of 4-year-old Ava.

Instead of the classic stage moms, they are “pageant dads,” a new breed of dads who bond with their little girls over beauty pageant competitions, according to MSNBC.com. Is that a refreshing change of gender roles or is it sending the wrong message to these little girls?

The two fathers clearly don’t understand why the show — or kiddie pageants in general — are so controversial.

“It’s like any sport, I guess; just watching her grow and basically learn more and more,” Enos said on “The Today Show.” “It’s just a fun thing to do with your daughter.”

Meanwhile, Perez has proclaimed himself “Super Dad of Pageants.” He coaches his daughter on her stage moves, creates her costume and even does her makeup and hair.

Perez said that he and his wife fell into the pageant world after they saw a small pageant at the mall when their daughter, Avo, was 8 months old.

They figured “every little girl does this, I guess,’ ” he told “Today.” “So it started off from there, and she enjoyed it.”

In the Perez household, the gender roles are nontraditional. Perez said that his wife fixes his tires, but “if you need to win Miss Universe, you go to me.  I can bead a gown, but I can’t fix a flat tire.”

In June, I wrote about “Toddlers and Tiaras” and the message beauty pageant competitions send to young girls. Do these competitions train little girls to believe that value is based on their appearance? And are they exploiting little girls?

These dads certainly don’t see it that way.

“I don’t think I’m exploiting her,” Perez told “Today.” “I think that I’m giving her outlets for her to see what she enjoys doing. Right now, it could be beauty pageants; later on, she could play softball.”

On the upside, it’s great to see dads who are so involved in their daughters’ lives. On the downside, these girls might get the message that they need to get gussied up in order to please a man.

What do you think?

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Photo: flickr/The Toad

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