FATLASH Author Karen Kataline Stirs 'Toddlers & Tiaras' Controversy in Australia with Own Story of Years in Child Beauty Pageants

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The ongoing uproar in Australia over 'Toddlers and Tiaras' prompted Australian women's magazine, DailyLife.com.au, to ask Karen Kataline to write about her experience in child beauty pageants. The story was picked up by major Australian newspapers like the Sidney Morning Herald and she guested on local and national talk shows for the ABC.

by Karen Kataline, MSW

FATLASH! Food Police & the Fear of Thin

My fear is that an entire generation of girls will feel the need to write a book like FATLASH in a few more decades.

Many Australians have been up in arms about "Toddlers and Tiaras" ever since it was imported from America over a year ago. Protestors from Sidney to Melbourne have taken to the streets with signs like "Keep Their Tiaras Off Our Toddlers," and "Child Pageants Aren't Pretty."

Karen Kataline, the author of a new memoir, FATLASH! Food Police & the Fear of Thin -A Cautionary Tale, was asked to write an article for DailyLife.com.au about her personal experience in child beauty pageants and to include her professional mental health expertise to further explain the issues involved.

In the sixties when it was much more rare, Kataline's "stage mother on steroids" put her in child pageants and on severely restrictive diets. Her piece was reprinted by Australian newspapers like the Sidney Morning Herald and the Brisbane Times. This prompted calls from local and national radio shows for the ABC.

"I never thought I would grow up to see the culture make so many of the same mistakes my mother did." Kataline said. Illustrative of the progressive and generational problem with sexualizing children and putting them on display, Kataline's mother was also put on the stage at the age of three and expected to be the next Shirley Temple.

Among the major questions people have is what these girls will be like when they grow up and whether the extreme pageants of today will negatively affect them. Kataline's answer is an unequivacle yes. She says she wrote the book as a "cautionary tale," to warn parents of these dangers and to urge them to change course. She fears that an entire generation of girls will feel the need to write a book like FATLASH in a few more decades.

Kataline encourages and applauds the protests and says they're better than banning Toddlers and Tiaras and programs like it. "It doesn't take a pageant to sexualize a child. Just like food bans, it simply makes them more attractive and they go underground." Kataline said. "We need to educate parents and audiences alike about the developmental dangers of sexualizing children. If we can do that, these pageants will fall out of favor and we can better protect girls from being sexualized whether they are in pageants or not."

Review copies upon request.

Karen Kataline, MSW, received her master's degree from Columbia University and has practiced in a variety of non-profit and corporate settings. She has taught communications and public speaking at the New School for Social Research, Parsons School of Design in New York, New Jersey's Montclair State College among others. Fatlash! is her first book.

Martina Cartwright, Ph.D, RD., wrote the Foreword for Fatlash! She is a registered dietitian with a Ph.D. in Nutritional Science and Biomolecular Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has written extensively about child pageants and eating disorders and is credited with coining the term, "Princess by Proxy."

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