Six-year-old Alana Thompson, more commonly known as Honey Boo Boo Child, of TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras fame is my very most favorite person on television. My feelings towards Honey Boo Boo are not sarcastic, ironic, or condescending. Rather, Honey Boo Boo inspires me in a very real way.
Unlike other pageant contestants on Toddlers and Tiaras, Honey Boo Boo always shows the judges exactly who she is on stage. If they don’t like it, they can rank her lower, but she never gives up. Even more notably, Alana’s family supports her in victory and defeat and encourages her to pick herself back up. June, better known as Mama, takes such pride in her daughter for being bold and trying her best, even when the judges don’t recognize Alana’s greatness. Mama has never made Honey Boo Boo feel guilty for not winning a pageant–something pageant parents on Toddlers and Tiaras are filmed doing again and again.
Seeing that Alana wants to be successful at pageants, Mama brought in an etiquette coach to help her feel more prepared for the next contest. Honey Boo Boo and her sister Pumpkin sat down with the etiquette coach and learned about table manners. However, the coach let her prejudice get in the way of being an effective teacher for the girls, saying things like “Well, I hope that works out for you,” and “That is probably the height of rudeness.” Without ever explaining why the lessons might be important, Pumpkin and Alana had no reason to care or learn anything. Knowing that her younger sister might get the wrong impression from the etiquette coach, Pumpkin was adamant about holding her ground and reinforcing the idea that she won’t let anyone’s judgment change her.
Honey Boo Boo is surrounded by strong, positive women. She is encouraged to be bright and outspoken, instead of being silenced or made to feel dumb for making observations and asking questions. Honey Boo Boo’s family nurtures her interests while giving her space to grow. When the issue of weight comes up in Honey Boo Boo’s household, she is reminded that the number on the scale reflects how full of happiness and love she is, not the weight of the shame others try to force on her.
I don’t have to be quiet to be beautiful. I don’t have to wait for someone to tell me that I’m a winner to know that I’m valuable. I can celebrate parts of my body that other people are ashamed of and maybe other people will start to celebrate them too.