Insight Is 20/20

Exploring the pervasive, and unperceived, patterns that govern our lives

An Open Letter to Honey Boo Boo's Mom

This child needs a serious intervention.

Dear June,

First, I’ll come clean: I’ve watched an episode of your show. I wish I could say I wasn’t one of the millions of people who've tuned in to watch such a rampant mess of crazy characters splattered across the television screen, but I had to know what America’s been buzzing about. As a psychologist in the media, I feel compelled to reach out as a voice of reason in what appears to be a super-distorted life you lead for your family. Sadly, your show represents the worst of American culture. What’s worse, I get the sense you know that.

When most people watch you and your family, they’re making fun of you. Though millions of Americans are obese and, as a result, should actually identify with you, they’re still making fun of you. That you would put your children into that position concerns me as someone who cares about the emotional welfare of children. 

My biggest concern is the fact that you’ve put your daughter in the lion’s den of child beauty pageants. I’m not being mean when I say your daughter is not a pretty little girl – I’m being honest. In fact, I think that’s one of the main reasons the audience watches: how funny it is to watch such a sad, homely little girl pretend to be a real pageant queen, right? Um, I don’t think so. I think your daughter has tons of potential and deserves to be more than a Halloween character. Sure, pageants may arguably be fine for some females, for instance, young women with physical beauty or talents that translate well on the stage. But we’re not talking about your daughter when we talk about talent, as least according to what we've seen on camera.

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It bodes poorly for your daughter’s future self-esteem that she’s become the butt of jokes. You’re the adult, so you have every right to serve as the national emblem for so many things that are serious problems: obesity, valuing appearance over education, and lack of discipline. In one episode, you joked that the family wakes up in the summer around noon. You obviously have impaired judgment, but you’re not brain dead: You know that’s not good for a young child.

If I made a wish, it would be for a positive future for your daughter, one where the world’s forgotten Who Is Honey Boo Boo? In that future, your daughter lives an honorable, productive life as Alana. (Thank goodness you had the decency to give her a real name on her birth certificate). It’s obvious how much you love your child, so I know there is a conscientious woman deep inside there, albeit buried under layers of distorted dreams you’ve thrust onto your child.

Because your daughter, Alana, has such an outgoing personality, you would serve her well to channel her outgoing personality into skills and activities that she can use as an adult in the future. My fear is that my crystal ball is correct: A depressed and obese substance-abusing woman in her 20s or 30s sits at the bar, asking the bartender for one more and paying with the last remnants of blood money she earned as a child reality television star.

As you negotiate for a second season, June, I know there’s almost nothing that could stop you and your family from continuing the show and cashing in. That said, I hope you put away all that money your daughter is making and seal it in a trust fund she can use for her education in the future. I honestly wish you and your family well, and I’ll say a prayer for your daughter’s future. I have the sickest sense she’s going to need it.

Seth Meyers, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health.

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