TLC Slammed for "Exploiting" Toddler Dressed as Prostitute

Entertainment Sep. 12, 2011 AT 3:33PM
TLC Slammed for "Exploiting" Toddler Dressed as Prostitute Credit: TLC / Splash News

Not everyone thinks dressing a toddler up as a prostitute is cute.

On Wednesday night's Toddlers and Tiaras, Wendy Dickey dressed her 3-year-old daughter, Paisley, like Julia Roberts' streetwalker character in Pretty Woman. Although Dickey told TMZ that Paisley's provocative pageant costume was "meant to be funny [and] not sexual at all," the Parents Television Council isn't laughing.

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"Whether you love or loathe child beauty pageants, everyone should agree that sexualizing a three-year-old little girl is wrong," Melissa Henson, the director of communications and public education for the PTC, said in a statement. "But that is exactly what the TLC network has done." 

"Such brazen and wanton material should qualify as child exploitation or abuse," Henson added. "Instead of creating ratings-friendly buzz, TLC engendered outrage among millions of parents and grandparents who are tired of seeing children exploited for ratings and robbed of their innocence by a greedy entertainment industry that will stop at nothing to make a buck."

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One mom whose daughter was competing with Paisley also slammed the tot's tight, midriff-baring costume. "Us pageant moms already take a huge rap for what we're doing to our little girls," she said. Most of the young girls featured on the TLC show wear fake hair, "flippers" (fake teeth), heavy makeup and get professionally spray tanned. "[But] it's outfits like that the give us a bad rap... I would never, ever do that to my little girl."

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The judges, however, didn't have a problem with Paisley's grown-up ensemble and thigh-high patent boots. She won the highest title -- "Grand Supreme" -- in her age group.

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