“The most unique thing about Paisley,” intones an announcer at the New York’s Darling Divas pageant, “is that she’s 37 inches tall and her hair is 22 inches long.”
Technically, that’s not true. Much more interesting is the fact that her mother, Wendy Dickey, remains unapologetic about dressing Paisley — now three-years-old — up as a pint-sized prosti-tot in an ode to Julia Roberts’ “Pretty Woman” character.
“She would not be as well known if it were not for that outfit,” says Dickey as we’re reintroduced to Paisley and the absolute mind-blowing experience that is “Toddlers & Tiaras,” back for its fifth season on TLC.
Paisley now has a brand manager and a stylist who is helping the kindergartener cultivate a “more New York look.” Mom is still the final word in on-stage gear, though, and she does her best to keep up her streak by dolling little Paisley up ala Lady Gaga, though she seems more stripper than monster.
“Can you show me how you’re gonna take your skirt off?” asks mommy. Paisley then tears off her skirt to reveal fishnet stockings and a garter belt on one of her daughter’s compact thighs.
“Hopefully people will not be calling her prosti-tot again,” says mom. Too late.
In the premiere, we also meet Isabella, 5, and Shian, 8.
Isabella explained in reality TV terms: Think of her mother, Susanna, as “Real Housewives of New Jersey’s” Teresa Guidice and Isabella herself as a less extreme Honey Boo Boo Child who, instead of guzzling a mixture of Red Bull and Mountain Dew for energy, just rips into packets of sugar.
“Straight sugar to get straight energy,” says Susanna with, yes, a straight face. Susanna also admits to having spent upwards of $40,000 in the past 8 months getting Isabella out on the pageant circuit. But hopefully her investment will pay off since her kid already has her own branded line of jewelry, Glitzy Girl.
And although Susanna is down with the pageant world and having her five-year-old objectified, she says (of Paisley and her family), “Putting your child on stage and painting them as a prostitute is going too far.”
Shian is 8 and the most self-aware of the girls that we meet in the season premiere. She and her mom, Trisma, meditate before pageants. But lest you think this family is comparatively normal or rational, think again.
Trisma gives in when Shian pitches a tantrum because she can’t have caps on her fingernails. The nail tech has advised that it could damage her still growing nail beds.
“The most important thing is her happiness,” says Trisma, who orders the nail tech to put on the caps. We’ll see what Shian says when she’s 18 and walking around with deformed, fungus-ridden nails.
Still, Shian recognizes that her mom’s a bit extreme, describing her as a “crazy pageant mom.”
“My mom puts a girdle on me to go to bed,” says the lanky girl.
We think she’s just a crazy mom, Shian.