Just saying the words “honey boo boo” out loud is comical. Try it. I promise you will laugh. Hearing that they are the nickname, or stage name, of a six-year-old pageant star may even make it a little endearing. But then you learn that she’s the pageant star of a TLC spin-off from Toddlers & Tiaras, and you start to question things.
All on her own, little Alana Thompson seems like a cute, apple-cheeked kid with an adorable Southern drawl compliments of her Georgia roots. Then, her pageant career turns her in to Honey Boo Boo, something I can only describe as tragic. Sure, my toddler gets a splash of toenail polish when she watches me paint my own toes, but the make-up, fake hair, and over-the-top, dolled up indulgence of a first grader feels like so many things gone wrong. Including her diet.
Now, I’m not from Georgia nor the South, and I don’t know if this is some sort of local cuisine that I’m just not opening my mind to, but serving road kill to my child isn’t likely to happen ever. But a freshly run-over deer is on the menu at Honey Boo Boo’s house, and that’s not all that frightened me about her diet.
“My special juice is gonna help me win!” Honey Boo Boo wildly announces during a clip from Toddlers & Tiaras. The homemade concoction of Red Bull and Mountain Dew “tastes like apple juice,” and is what her mom, June, uses to get her daughter wound like a top so she can dazzle in pageants.
In an episode of Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers, he tasted the Go Go Juice, and Honey Boo Boo warned that “He’s gonna bounce off the walls.” He didn’t get that far, having only taken a sip, but Dr. Drew almost immediately felt the affects of this chemical cocktail. “I’m starting to sweat a little bit… I can’t speak, my tongue is getting thick… I need to get some water,” he said. Imagine what it’s doing to her six-year-old body!
Well, you don’t actually have to imagine. Much like Dr. Drew modeled, Alana is at risk of dehydration and much more when chugging bottles of her Go Go Juice.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that all drinks with caffeine (e.g. Red Bull) are off limits to children and teenagers,” advised Mary Hartley, RD, our resident nutrition expert. “Energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and other stimulants that can raise heart rate and anxiety levels and increase the risk of dehydration. And then the Mountain Dew soda is nothing but empty calories from sugar and water.”
Watching Alana down bottles of her homemade energy drink on national television sent shock waves through moms and child advocates alike. Even Mary wasn’t impressed, saying, “These drinks are being used to pump up this little girl before she goes on stage in order to be wired and vivacious. I think the caregivers are actually guilty of child abuse.”
She’s not alone. There have been many cries of child abuse and The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services made an unscheduled visit to the family’s home this past spring. Reports say that the state had reasonable cause to take a case to court, but that a judge ended up throwing out the case.
Go Go Juice isn’t the only processed junk the young girl’s mom is filling her with. During a Honey Boo Boo episode she goes extreme couponing with her mom, where the grocery list only includes things they can score for free, or at least close to it, based on coupons and in-store specials. Cases of Ramen Noodles and entire shelves of Nesquik are added to the cart. Of course we only get to see a brief clip, but where’s the real food?
It might make for good ratings and a nice check from TLC to splash the extreme disreguard for health, nutrition, and wellness of your child right out the window, but to me it just looks like poor and nearly neglectful parenting choices. Do I get it right 100 percent of the time as a parent? Certainly not, and neither does any other parent. But June Thompson seems to be going boldly out of her way to not get it right, or to not even try. Ultimately, Alana is the one who will pay, whether it be in poor body- and self-image, nutrition and health, or an inability to be herself without being “juiced.”