Toddlers and Tiaras Star Causes Controversy in Australia
Six-year-old Eden Wood, star of the reality TV show Toddlers and Tiaras, is causing quite a stir Down Under.
Thousands of Australians wanted to keep Eden and her world of kiddie pageants out of their country. Many even signed an online petition, "Stop US Child Beauty Pageants in Australia," to keep her away.
"We don't need toxic US-style child beauty pageants in Australia," said one woman.
"I don't care what anybody else says, my child is living a dream," says Mickie Wood, Eden's mother.
Undeterred, Eden and her mom Mickie, who live in Taylor, Arkansas, went to Australia. She performed her signature songs, "Cutie Patootie" and "Underpuppy," on the popular news program Today Tonight.
As she watched Eden's performance from backstage, Mickie was in tears.
"You guys saw it. I can't force her to do that. This is what she wants to do. So stop and think before you put those bitter words out there," she said.
Then she went head-to-head with her fiercest critics, including child psychologist Collette Smart.
Smart said, "We feel that pageants sexualize children so we are concerned with the whole sexualizations of the pageants that it's bringing."
"The fact that the word 'sex' and 'pageant' are being put together, it infuriates me and I can't stand it," replied Mickie.
Smart even argued that Eden's provocative dance moves attract pedophiles.
Mickie shot back, "When you're ignorant on a topic, the fact that the word 'pedophile' is just [being thrown around] and 'sex' is just [being thrown around], I think it's just a bunch of rubbish."
The drama Down Under comes straight on the heels of controversial photos that were published in French Vogue. 10-year-old model Thylane Loubry Blondeau posed with pouty lips and a seductive stare. One blogger wrote the photos convey an "adult sexuality."
On the season finale of Toddlers and Tiaras, Eden reigned supreme, winning a world championship crown.
It was Eden's last competition. The pageant princess is retiring to pursue a career in music and film.
Meanwhile, some pageant organizers in Australia are furious with Eden's mother, who they say cancelled the little girl's appearance at an event at the last minute, leaving a number of little girls disappointed they weren't going to get a chance to meet their idol.