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The Darker Side of Children's Beauty Pageants It's 7:OO A.M. on a Saturday, kids everywhere are just waking up ready to watch their favorite line up of Saturday morning cartoons. Marie, a four year old child, is preparing for her long weekend of make-up, hairspray, and gowns. Marie is one of many children who are forced by over-demanding parents who pressure their young and innocent children into many beauty pageants each year, and its wrong. Beauty pageants first originated in Atlantic City. It was a marketing tool to make tourists stay in town longer (Banet-Weiser).
News struck about this beauty pageant and the local news paper headlined "The next Miss America". As beauty pageants grew popular, a Little Miss America was started for parents who wanted their children in the contest. The average beauty pageant costs about $655 which includes the formal wear, sports wear and dance (A&E). The average cost does not include travel, hotel and food, which can be up to an extra two hundred dollars; and in some cases dresses for formal and sports wear can cost up to $12,000 with a minimum of $1500 (A&E). With the vast amount of expenses spent the pressure to win becomes more intense, leaving no room for mistakes. A four year old child should not have to go through the burden of a beauty pageant.
Preparing for a pageant requires time and patience, hair lasting around an hour and forty-five minutes, make-up around an hour, and different performances that require some participants to practice for about seven hours a week (A&E). All of this is not healthy at a young age. During these pageants children are judged by the following: modeling sportswear and evening wear, how well they dance, and how much talent they have. They are also judged by their looks how well they perform, and how confident they appear. Approximately 250,000 children participate in pageants each year (Wolf). Mothers who have children in beauty pageants argue that their children gains a boost of confidence through performing in front of crowds. They are also more socially comfortable around other people, and their children mature at a younger age than "normal" children do.
Isn't seeing a child "growing old before my eyes" a bad thing. What parent wants to see their child grow up any faster than they already do? Yes beauty pageants may help build social skills, but amongst whom? The competition? Since when was it ok to be friends with the enemy? A child can accomplish all of this things without being in a beauty pageant. A child can gain more confidence by learning how to read, singing, playing, and even tying her own shoes for the first time. One can also be socially interactive with other kids in pre-school by just sharing toys, playing on a playground, something that cannot be found in a children's beauty pageant. For instance take in consideration of the child who lost the pageant. There are visible signs that the child shows when she loses; she now thinks less of herself and thinks she has let her parents down because she did not place first. Parents also bring out the argument that a child who participate in beauty pageants may receive scholarships.
There are better ways to get scholarships. If the child spends more time on school work and do community service, they may be eligible for an academic scholarship, or taking out a sport and getting a sports scholarship. Parents who are putting their children into beauty pageants for "college money" are giving their kids the idea of exploiting their bodies in front of sex-driven is a good thing. That their whole lives are judged upon how they look. Prostitutes and strippers exploit their bodies for money, and it goes without saying that any parent would not want their child to be prostitutes or strippers. As the child grows older, she may develop eating disorders because she feels that her body is not perfect. With today's standards of what is "sexy" girls in pageants will do anything to get the perfect size including starting such habits as bulimia and anorexia (Cawthorne).
According to Michelle Thomas, a clinical psychologist, children's beauty pageants can indeed cause eating disorders (Banet-Weiser). Children are thinking that appearance is everything and forgetting that the true beauty is within. A true beautiful girl does not need all of the make up and hairspray, nor does she need to be paraded around in a gown. The child is learning false lessons on how to act around people and not be herself. With all of the time the child is putting into practicing and reciting, she has very little time to play with other children and learn the basic essentials of being a kid. They are missing out on numerous childhood activities such as: the art of blowing the perfect bubble, riding a bike, the luxurious things that make being a kid so great. It is now 7:00 P.M.
Saturday night, Jessica and her mom have finished with the first of three long days. She looks at her mom with teary eyes as she walks off stage empty handed. She feels that she has failed her mom and herself. Children at such a young age are very fragile, the do not have the experience to learn that they are still a worthy person even if they lose. Marie sees all of the other children leaving with trophies running towards their parents to give them a hug. As she walks of the stage with nothing and see the disappointment of her parents as they turn away.
If that isn't wrong...then what is? Works CitedA&E. Inside Story: Baby Beauty Queens Banet-Weiser, Sarah. 'The Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Beauty Pageants and National Identity." Berkley: University of California Press: 1999. Cawthorne, Andrew. 'Miss World to emerge from the shadow of deaths,' (website) http:/http://www.tiscali.co.uk. Date published: 5/12/2002 18:44 Lester, Time. Venzuela Beauty. Foreign Correspondent, (Dated aired) 03/16/2005. Wolf, Naomi.
"The Beauty Myth. London: Vintage: 1990, pg. 288..
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