Sparkling tiaras, beautiful gowns, glamorous hair and make-up; One would believe that this would be every little girl’s dream. Unfortunately this dream often turns into a horrible nightmare. The popularity of child beauty pageants seems to be rising every year causing more and more controversy. There are many different views and concerns that people seem to have on these types of pageants. Many of them do not agree with children being forced to fulfill their parents dream by taking place in a beauty pageant.
The history of beauty pageants became part of the American society around the 1920’s. They originated as a marketing tool in 1921 by an Atlantic City hotel owner who was trying to attract tourist. Since then, pageants have become a major event in the lives of Americans. The online article written by Kareen Nussbaum exclaims that it wasn’t until the 1960’s when child beauty pageants really began. Back then, child pageants consist of modeling sportswear, evening attire, dance, and talent. The judging was based on the individual’s looks, talent, poise, perfection, and level of confidence.
Pageants were conducted at political, educational, and entertainment venues. Many were scholarships were being offered through pageants, and beneficial programs were being facilitated. The pageantry world helped introduced a face to the faceless troubles of racism, handicaps, and illnesses. Since that time, a lot in the pageant industry has changed. Nowadays, they are anything buy conservative. Beauty pageants, like the ones on the show Toddlers and Tiaras, are not about natural looks but are based on such superficial things such as who has the most make up and best tan.
Parents have a major role in most child beauty pageants. There are very few children who participate in pageantry without their parents. They are the ones who provide the money and connection into the pageant world. Several families who start their child in beauty pageants have generations of competitors that include grandmas, mothers, kids, and grandkids. Many believe that the mothers of children that are involved in beauty pageants live vicariously through their children. Too often, pageant moms have only one thing on their mind and that is for their child to win! Having their own mother/parent as their role model, the child will most likely have that same kind of attitude causing many problems throughout their life.
There are many other reasons why child beauty pageants are unnecessary in today’s society. As children, they are most likely forced into the beauty pageants. Being too young to say no, the parents take control. Beauty pageants also sexualize young girls too early. They are exposed and become familiar with “womanly” items such as padded bras, high heels, and make-up. Instead of acting like their own age, the little girls believe to think they are older than they really are. High heels aren’t made for small feet. They needlessly push the child’s weight forward causing lower back pain and hindering proper development of their feet.
Sometimes younger girls are forced to wear heels outside of pageants, because their feet have grown in a way that makes wearing other shoes uncomfortable. Hairspray is the most common widely used product in child pageants. Unfortunately, too much hairspray can actually stunt growth. The Psychology Corner claims that it contains certain chemicals that act as hormone disruptors that could be harmful to the body, and is linked to stunted growth and even lung cancer! If child beauty pageants weren’t allowed, these kinds of troubles wouldn’t be so prevalent.
Cognitive and emotional problems are probably the most dangerous problems that beauty pageants can cause. They are capable to leading to many different kinds of disorders that could ruin a child’s life. A 2007 report by the American Psychological Association found that the hypersexualization of young girls is strongly associated with eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression. Psychologists and psychiatrists largely agree that pageants reinforce negative female body image issues that result in eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Beauty competitions emphasize the “barbie doll” image of what a beauty queen should look like. The problem with having that image is that there is no way for a person to be able to look like that.
Even 25 years ago, top models and beauty queens weighed only 8% less than the average woman, now they weigh 23% less according to the Oprah Winfrey Network. Although Zinzi Williams states that many of the beauty pageants take part in community service, delivering a social message and help in bringing up funds for charity, numerous of them are exaggerated and mess with a young child’s mind.
For about fifty years, beauty pageants have been teaching children to behave as young adults rather than acting their own age. Rather than focusing primarily on the idea of competition, pageants for younger children should be created to concentrate on the child’s talent, intelligence, poise, and confidence. While there can be some positive aspects of children beauty pageants, the physical and mental health of the participants will only continue to exacerbate.
“5 Facts about Beauty Pageants.” Oprah Winfrey Network. Harpo Productions, 2012. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. Nussbaum, Kareen. “Children and Beauty Pagaents.” Beauty Pagaents. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. “Toddlers and children beauty pageants – Risk factors for severe psychological turmoils.” Psychology Corner. Psychology Corner, n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2012. Williams, Zinzi. “Beauty Pageants and its Effects on Children.” Purduecal. N.p., 6 Dec. 2010. Web. 3 Dec. 2012.