The TV show "Toddlers & Tiaras" is on trial today, August 17, 2012, in a courtroom in Campbell County, Kentucky. And while it's not actually the show that's on trial, it's the show's concept that could cause Lindsay Jackson, mother of Madisyn "Maddy" Verst, to lose custody of her daughter.
Last year, Maddy became the talk of the country when she appeared on "Toddlers & Tiaras" in a Dolly Parton outfit, complete with sparkle, padded boobs and butt. Maddy was four years old at the time. The performance even had "People" magazine asking the question, "Gone Too Far?"
That performance outraged Maddy's dad, Bill Verst, so much that he has taken Lindsay to court and is suing for full custody of his daughter.
Lindsay had no idea that the costume and act from "Toddlers & Tiaras" would land her in a fight to keep her child.
“Obviously, if I had knowm that this Dolly thing was going to be an issue, I wouldn’t have done it, especially on national TV,” said Jackson. “I never intended for it to be a negative costume – it was a costume designed to represent our state. Dolly’s from Tennessee, so that’s what I did."
The costume was actually made for Lindsay when she competed in pageants as a child. Lindsay claims that the money she earned while participating in child pageants paid for her college education.
Lindsay insists she hasn't done anything wrong; however, a court-appointed psychologist seems to disagree. According to Fox News, a recommendation has been made that the parents "maintain a temporary joint custodial arrangement, with Bill as primary residential custodian."
Lindsay has a bad feeling about today's hearing and fears she will lose custody of Maddy. She feels that her ex-husband's family connections and status in this small town will influence the judge to enter a ruling against her. She feels that the court venue should have been moved in order to ensure fairness in the proceedings.
Lindsay is also aware that this case could set a precedent for the entire pageant industry that has spawned the show "Toddlers & Tiaras." It's a valid concern as so many people have spoken out on not only the show "Toddlers & Tiaras," but the whole child pageant world which they feel encourages the sexualization of very young girls.
“While some people may or may not agree with pageants – it’s not illegal,” said Jackson. “I shouldn't be at risk of losing my child simply because she participates in a hobby that some people don’t like.”
While Lindsay Jackson is right about the legalities of pageants like the ones Maddy competes in, just because something is legal doesn't always make it the right thing to do.
What do you think? Are pageants and shows like "Toddlers & Tiaras" just taking dress-up to a higher level or are they hurting the children who participate? Do you think it was the padded boobs and butt that took this performance over the edge or is it the entire concept of pageants for very young children? Please leave a comment below. The ruling should be announced very soon.