The Real Beauty of the “Honey Boo Boo” Family

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Last night, I did what every good, tired mom does after a long day when it’s still too early for the children to go to bed. I took a shower and took advantage of the fact that I still have a little girl who loves to play “hair stylist.”

Usually, I am in a rush to get things done or can’t find a brush that hasn’t been swallowed by the couch cushions, so I don’t take her up on the offer to step into her “salon.” But last night I was ready to be pampered and happened upon a brush while I was cleaning up the den, so we sat together and watched television while she brushed my hair.

It was such a treat to feel like a pampered princess that I gave her the remote control and told her to pick whatever she wanted us to watch together. She chose a show that I had promised myself I would never watch in a million years. Ends up, I learned a few things from watching it.

Elspeth chose “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” which is a spin-off from TLC’s “Toddler & Tiaras.” I heard a lot of criticism about the show and had seen a 15-second commercial. My initial reaction was that there was no way I was going to watch that reality TV trash. The show follows 7-year-old Alana “Honey Boo Boo” and her family, which includes “Mama” June, a dad called”Sugar Bear” and her sisters – 12-year-old Lauryn “Pumpkin,” 15-year-old Jessica “Chubbs” and 17- year-old Anna “Chickadee.” Honey Boo Boo is a charming little girl who’s full of spunk. Elspeth and I giggled together as we watched the show and I told Elspeth how much Honey Boo Boo’s quick and funny sayings reminded me of her.

The family that laughs together…

The family lives in a small house by the train tracks in McIntyre, Ga., where the average household income is $24,028, and the chalk mines are the principal industry. Sugar Bear works seven days a week in the mines to support his family. Neither he nor Mama June graduated from high school. I was intrigued after watching one episode. When Elspeth and I finished playing “hair salon,” I tucked all the children in bed and stayed up to watch every episode of the show I could find on On Demand.

Mama June is witty and genuinely funny at times. She’s so comfortable in her own skin, which is a nice change from the “Jersey Shore” and “Real Housewives” reality shows. She’s engaging with her children, and it’s evident how much she adores them all the way to the core of her soul. She reprimands them and gets on them about the tasks they forget to do and the messes they leave, but she also supports them whether she agrees with their choices or not.  In one episode, Chubbs decides to go on a diet, and she asks her mother to join her. Her mother says, “I am comfortable in my own skin, but I will diet with you to show I support you.”

This is a mom who does extreme couponing with her family at the Piggly Wiggly and makes the girls their favorite meal of ketchup over spaghetti noodles. As a mom who faces the daily financial struggles of providing for my children, I get it, and I imagine there are many other families who can identify with this family.  I saw a very loving family that holds “Christmas in July” as a food drive for their local community food bank and genuinely worries and cares about each other.

One of the gems of this show is the laughter they share together. It made me miss having that laughter with my children because of how caught up I get in trying to stay ahead. I watched this family try and make a Slip-n-Slide out of plastic, and I remembered how much fun that was when I was young and did it with my brothers. In one episode, the family cracks each other up while playing in the mud and getting covered in it from head to toe. They were laughing so much, and it was so real. I bet all that mud easily came off, while the memories they have will last forever.

(A little muddy fun)

When I finished watching the last episode, I found myself thinking about how disappointed I was in myself for judging these people based on a few clips and reviews.

One review I read said the family was composed of “tragic people.” After watching the show, let me just say these are not “tragic people.” These are genuinely happy folks who live in their own way. They embrace who they are and the simple things in life. They find joy and laughter in so many things that many of us miss in our own lives because we are so caught up in wanting to gain more things or a better status.

There is nothing wrong with wanting more but there is also nothing wrong with enjoying the simple things in we have in life. You don’t have to love every aspect of the show. There are things this family does that I don’t agree with, like when the kids walked into a convenience store barefoot when the sign said, “Shoes must be worn at all times.” But you can’t criticize it until you have seen it, or you might miss seeing the real beauty in this show.

Do you have strong feelings about the new TLC reality show “Honey Boo Boo”? You can share them at www.tlhmoms.com or on facebook at www.facebook/tlhmoms.com. You can reach this reality show mom at bnewsome@tallahassee.com.

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