Sure, the Parents Television Council has a history of getting all riled up over relatively minor offences. But this time it's a minor that's offending not just the PTC, and we can actually see the point.
The TV watchdog has set its sights on the new episode of TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras, which shows a 3-year-old contestant dressed up like a hooker. Yes, a hooker.
As it happens, it's not just any prostitute. Technically, it's Julia Roberts' streetwalker-with-a-heart-of-gold character from Pretty Woman—though not, unfortunately, after her character is redeemed by Richard Gere and takes to wearing full-coverage dresses and fancy jewels.
Instead, 3-year-old Paisley (the show wisely only uses first names) was made to dress up in pleather thigh-high boots, a midriff-bearing top, mini skirt and blonde wig and strut across the stage in front of a hooting and hollering crowd. (Incidentally, this comes a week after another girl donned fake breasts and butt pads in an effort to look like Dolly Parton.)
Unsurprisingly, TLC had no comment on the episode, which airs tonight and has been showcasing a preview clip on the T&T website.
But the PTC had no such trouble finding the words to express itself.
"We have a serious problem when The Learning Channel features a toddler, who probably hasn't even learned to read, dressed as a prostitute showing off her sexy strut," PTC spokeswoman Melissa Henson told E! News.
"There's no question, TV executives are complicit in robbing these small kids of their childhood. For years we've seen adult sexuality being inappropriately and aggressively foisted on innocent young children, but children today are being sexualized at younger and younger ages. All available data suggests they will suffer for it in life."
Though the clip might be put into clearer context after tonight's airing (somehow we doubt it), not everyone involved in the show was OK with outfit.
In the clip, another pageant mother comments on the getup—which, incidentally, is met with smiles and laughter by the pageant judges, also seen in the footage.
"I would never ever do that to my little girl, ever. Us pageant moms already take a huge rap for what we're doing to our little girls and it's outfits like that that's giving us a bad rap."
Huh. Whoever thought we'd look to a pageant mom—or the PTC—to serve as the voice of reason?
For her part, Paisley's mom has already spoken out, telling TMZ that the outfit is "harmless." Whether Paisley's future therapist feels the same way remains to be seen.