Beauty Pageants

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By: Angela Testoni Date: 04/07/2012 Instructor: Mr. Paul Andrews

Modern Day Child Beauty Pageants . . . Innocence Lost

Many of the positive factors, which were once the foundation blocks for child beauty pageants, have undergone change and are now seriously being called into question by the critics and medical community. Historically, a child beauty pageant consisted of teenage contestants, mostly girl’s 13-17 years old. These young contestants would wear simple party-dress outfits, and compete in talent shows. Many parents believed these contests would be positive learning experience for their children. The pageants provided an opportunity for kids to build self esteem by developing speaking skills, tact, confidence, and poise. Additionally, the contests encouraged comradery and lifelong friendships. However, I believe that today’s beauty pageants overemphasize physical beauty in ways that can actually be psychologically damaging to children. Furthermore, the research appears to indicate that the parental motivations, for entering their children into these contests, have in many cases changed for the worst.

During 1921, the first beauty pageant was conducted in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The idea came about as a means to boost tourism. Aside from the objective to raise revenue, the initial pageants provided an outlet for parents to teach their children to do their very best. Parents widely believed that these early pageants were a great way to actually elevate the self-esteem of their teenagers.

During the early 1960s, the Little Miss America Pageant was hosted by the Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. The initial age group was children 13-17 years of age (i.e., teen age youth). However, by 1964 there were more than 35 thousand contestants trying to enter the Little Miss America Pageant. Out of necessity, this prompted a further age division because participants now included children who were much younger. During the late 1960s, the modern-day...
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