The hit TLC show "Toddlers & Tiaras" is known for its over-the-top costumes and revealing, baby-sized bikinis. But no outfit has generated as much controversy as the one Wendy Dickey put on her three-year-old daughter, Paisley.
Dickey dressedPaisley in a costume that mimicked the outfit that actress Julia Roberts' prostitute character wore in the movie "Pretty Woman" – the fitted, skin-baring white blouse, the tight blue mini-skirt and thigh-high, shiny black boots.
Paisley wore it all – down to the blond wig – and strutted across the stage.
Her costume created a furor.
"When are we going to stop sexualizing our children?" asked Sherri Shepherd, co-host of ABC's "The View." "Your job is to protect your child … if you don't think pedophiles are watching this show, I have a bridge I want to sell you."
Even some of the other pageant moms – who can be thicker-skinned – were angered by it.
"Us pageant moms already take a huge rap for what we're doing with our little girls and it's outfits like that that give us a bad rap," said one mother.
But the criticism doesn't faze Paisley's mom. Dickey said the costume was meant to be funny.
Watchdog Group Says Show Has Crossed the Line
"The whole idea was for people to see the comedy behind it. It's like when you take your children to a kids' movie, there's always adult humor that the parents get that the children don't get and that's what it was about," she said in an interview with "Good Morning America."
Dickey designed the outfit herself, and she's outraged that people think she's sexualizing her toddler daughter.
She told "GMA" that even though pedophiles were "everywhere," she didn't think they were "so much at pageants."
"When you take your children to the beach you put swimsuits on your girls, bikinis on your little ones or your big ones or teenagers," she said. "I think there are just as many or more pedophiles at the beach and in the park and anywhere ... I do not believe pageants are a breeding ground for pedophiles."
Paisley's "Pretty Woman" turn comes on the heels of another controversial "Toddlers & Tiara" moment. On an earlier episode this season, 4-year-old Maddy Jackson donned butt enhancements and fake C-cup-sized breasts as she emulated voluptuous country music icon Dolly Parton.
"When she wears the fake boobs and the fake butt it's just an added extra bonus," her mother, Lindsay Jackson, said.
The reality show has always been a lightning rod for criticism, but many are now starting to question whether it should stay on the air. There's even a Facebook page -- "Take Toddlers and Tiaras Off the Air" -- dedicated to the subject.
The Parents Television Council, a conservative watchdog group, says the show has crossed the line.
"The entire premise of the show is troubling, is disturbing when you have the premise of the show is to sex up your little girl, but when you have them portraying the character of a prostitute … you're taking away the youthful essence of these little girls," Tim Winter, the organization's president, said. "Three-year-old girls shouldn't be sexy."
Six-year-old Eden Wood has been competing since before she could walk. Her mother, Micki Wood, says the costumes are what get the girls noticed by the judges.
In fact, Eden has worn a showgirl outfit to compete.
Good Christian Values
Asked in a previous interview whether she believed such a costume was appropriate for a little girl, the girl's mother told "GMA": "She's covered everywhere. I don't, when I think of a show girl, I think of a beautiful, glamorous woman. It's a gorgeous, glamorous costume. To me, it's old Hollywood, the glamour, not sexualizing my child … It's playing dress up. It's an expensive doll it's an expensive dress up game."
Dickey said if she had it to do all over again, she wouldn't choose such a controversial costume, but she stressed that her family had good Christian values and she doesn't regret her decision.
"The public doesn't know us, doesn't know what kind of family we are …I'm shocked, I'm very shocked," she said. "I think it has been blown out of proportion. Would I do it again? No, but I do think people have overreacted in the worst way."
In an interview with TMZ, Dickey said: "I'm raising my child just as well as any mother does. I take my kid to church every week. … At least I'm not forcing them into sports and getting my child injured like some parents."