Beauty pageants have always been a subject of controversy when it comes to women’s rights. Beauty pageants are seen as blatant objectification of women as sexual objects, admired for their physical appeal yet downgraded to something less than human. The controversy is increased tenfold when the focus is not on women but on little girls…
Young beauty contestants echo the striptease
In child beauty pageants, the children undergo the same competition as women. There is a talent portion, usually consisting of a song and dance to a tune currently in vogue on the radio. Sometimes this portion of the pageant is referred to as a “Pro-Am” or the professional amateur section in which a contestant replicates the choreography of a music video. Often the child will remove a jacket or fur stole and incorporate it into their routine. The suggestiveness of removing clothing and using it as a prop is reminiscent of burlesque dances, in which the performer will start by removing a more innocuous piece of clothing such as a glove or earring and “tease” the audience with it. Child pageants are usually split into separate competitions dependent on age. There are pageants for babies of about 2 and under, toddlers from about three to five years old, and then children before graduating to a teen portion.
Child pageant queens go for mature hair, tan, makeup and nails
Hair and make up are applied as heavily on girls competing in beauty pageants as they are on their older counterparts. Both hair and make up can take an hour or more each to complete. Often, hair extensions are added – as well as false teeth to cover any gaps left by recently missing baby teeth. Competitors often get fake tans, undergo eyebrow waxing and get acrylic nails applied for a more “mature” look.
Let’s not forget… the pageant’s swimsuit section
There has always been an ethical question surrounding child pageantry. The most obvious question that springs to mind is whether or not these pageants sexualize young girls. The main predicament of child beauty pageants is the concern that they become a breeding ground for paedophilia. It is still very common for these pageants to include a swimsuit competition. There seems to be no other reason to have a swimsuit portion unless it is to put on display the bodies of children. Girls are taught to walk in a bouncy, “playful” manner in order to replicate there adult counterparts. They do this with an ever-present grin on there face so as to symbolize their consent and enjoyment of being made into a sexualized object.
Teaching shallow values from an early and impressionable age
It is inevitable that – especially as females mature – the pressure to be physically perfect becomes more and more prominent. When children are entered into beauty pageants, the process of being made into an object judged solely on appearance is expedited. These young girls in particular learn rather fast that the “art” of being a woman is embodied in how she looks. Forget about writing, or music, or inventing – to be valued as a woman the greatest achievement she can make for herself is in the perfection of her appearance.
Some supporters of child beauty pageants claim that competition is a positive lesson for children to learn in order to prepare themselves for the ever-looming adult world. Teaching girls to win competition through how they look seems to misplace whatever good so-called “healthy” competition does for a child. Competition is valuable to propel one into doing or making something to the best of their abilities, instead of placing value on how pleasing one is to the eye. It also teaches girls about rejection through their looks – a blow to the self-esteem of an impressionable child.
Are the parents to blame? (Yes.)
Mothers who push their children into pageantry are often accused of living vicariously through their daughters. Children tend start in pageants very young, often before starting school. Most parents say that their daughters chose to do it. Rarely do these children propose the idea to go into pageantry so young on their own.
Once in pageants, it is easy to see why a young girl might want to stay in one. Children often latch onto the notion at a young age that beauty is an important asset to have. In a pageant, where they get to essentially play dress-up, girls get to experience a sense of self-worth and satisfaction at looking pretty. If a child has competed often enough there is a drive to continue to compete more and win often.
Parents who allow their daughters to compete in pageants are not helping them to lead an easy or efficient hobby. Pageants are very expensive to participate in. There is a fee for signing up, then you can add to that the cost of travel and lodge during the competition, which often runs more than one day, and the price of the child’s appearance. Usually there is an outfit for the talent portion, a swimsuit, and a dress. Dresses in the United States can run upwards of about $1,500 or about 920 pounds. Some parents hire make-up artists and hairstylists to perfect their child’s adult look. Many of the parents who participate in these pageants are not especially wealthy. Pageants are a very difficult hobby for most parents to keep up with. It comes as no surprise that critics of pageants accuse parents of going to excessive lengths to live through their children.
A little girl is a child, not a Bratz doll
Child pageantry encourages the notion that it is never too soon to be sexy. Children are fed images of hotness appeal, whether through Bratz dolls or through their controversy-ridden Disney idols. Pageants allow children to be sexualized while functioning under the guise of wholesome playfulness. Girls learn not only how to be put on display for their looks, but how to accept and enjoy it, reinforcing the notion that a female finds her value in her appearance.
This is not right. She’s clearly a Bond Girl – and she’s only about 7 years old.
How can this child be unhappy? She has the hair of an aged Ivana Trump and the makeup of an actress from Dallas. Why does she not smile?
Unfortunately this says it all. That smile is a little forced. And let’s hope that’s a fake tan, or this poor girl is going to look like a macaque monkey by the time she’s fourteen.
Disturbing. This girl is admittedly very beautiful. However, she also looks like a centuries-old vampire who was turned when she was 6. Poor, beautiful, doomed girl. Don’t bite us.