Six-year-old Madisyn “Maddy” Verst is best known to the viewers of the TLC show Toddlers & Tiaras as the little girl who participated in a pageant dressed as Dolly Parton complete with padded breasts and bottom to give her the appearance of having womanly curves. The performance eventually landed her on the front page of People magazine with the headline, “Gone Too Far?”
That is exactly the question a judge in Campbell County, Kentucky is trying to answer in a custody battle between Maddy’s parents, Lindsay Jackson and Bill Verst. Jackson alleges that Verst is attempting to use her decision to allow their daughter to participate in pageants as a means to gain full custody, according to Fox News.
“While some people may or may not agree with pageants – it’s not illegal,” Jackson said. “I shouldn’t be at risk of losing my child simply because she participates in a hobby that some people don’t like.”
During a hearing on Friday, Judge Weoste barred media from the courtroom and placed Jackson under a gag order. He also forbid Jackson from entering Maddy into any more pageants pending the outcome of the custody hearing set to resume on August 31. A court-appointed psychologist recommended that Vest be awarded primary custodial rights of the tot and wrote over 3,000 words condemning the decision to allow Maddy to participate in pageants citing her Dolly Parton costume and another where she dressed as a “sexy police officer” as specific examples key to her recommendation.
While the pageant industry, and whether or not it contributes to the sexualization of children, has long been the subject of public scrutiny, the ruling stands to set a precedent for future cases and whether the activities parents allow or encourage their children to participate should be used as a means to deem a parent unfit.
Do you think that Jackson’s decision to allow her daughter to participate in pageants is an example of poor parenting? Should it play a part in determining who should be awarded custody of Maddy?
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