Toddlers and Tiaras, the popular show on TLC about young girls vying for beauty pageant glory, has been controversial from the start. From everyday viewers to Vanessa Williams, people have criticized the parents who parade their very young children around the toddler beauty pageant circuit (which is a real thing, apparently). Many argue that this type of beauty pageant teaches these young girls that beauty is the most important characteristic for a female, and some even argue that the pageants sexualize these girls at very tender ages given the provocative costumes.
The controversy has now been brought to court in a custody battle over one of the Toddlers and Tiaras stars. Bill Verst and Lindsay Jackson, parents of Madisyn “Maddy” Verst, are locked in a custody battle that centers on toddler beauty pageants. The controversy of Maddy Verst’s Dolly Parton pageant costume hit in September 2011, and now Verst claims that Jackson is sexually exploiting Maddy by dressing her so provocatively in the pageants. Jackson claims that Verst is simply using the pageants as a way to gain custody of Maddy, and has never had an issue before the custody case began.
A court-appointed psychologist is now “recommending that Bill Verst and his ex, Lindsay Jackson, share temporary custody, with Bill Verst getting primary residential custody” due to the provocative nature of Jackson’s costumes for Maddy. This case is ongoing, but for now, Maddy’s pageant career is on hold as her parents duke it out in family court.