TURNING little girls into glammed-up beauty queens has an unhealthy aspect to it when you ask yourself just who is in the audience.
Waxing their eyebrows, capping their teeth and fixing their hair and dressing kids up may be fun for their mums, but are mothers and daughters being exploited?
The American organisers of the controversial US cable-TV television show, Toddlers and Tiaras, reject suggestions that some of those watching are sexually attracted to little girls made to look like big girls.
Six-year-old Eden Wood, right, is the tiny queen of American kiddie glam who has come to Melbourne with her mother to promote the child beauty pageant at the Northcote Town Hall.
Mrs Wood ridicules suggestions that "psycho mums" are "going to rip eyebrows out and inject botox" into their daughters' faces.
They are her cynical words. She pokes cruel fun at the thought of "paedophiles in the front row".
But there is something un-Australian about parading children in a pageant where they are made up to look like anything but children.
It is a peculiarly American phenomenon that has seen mums and their kids go on the road to reap riches.
Mrs Wood might say there is nothing more to this television-packaged pageant than happy families having fun.
Tantrums, too, are sometimes on display among the toddlers who wear the fake tiaras. No one likes to lose.
The real winners here are the organisers and promoters.
Psychologists have voiced their concerns about child sexualisation. One child psychologist says she would prefer to see young girls display their brains rather than flaunt their bodies.
Child star Sarah Monahan, who says she was assaulted on the set of television's Hey Dad! from the age of six , is worried society is becoming desensitised.
Paedophiles should not be tempted, she says, by seeing these girls offered up to TV audiences as strangely mature.
There is something disturbing in seeing children manipulated by an industry that goes about recruiting mothers with its money.