Beauty Pageants Research Paper

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Leah Erickson
Mr. Graham
AP Language and Composition
22 December, 2011
In The Eyes of its Beholder
Little Eden Wood is a name that may vaguely pop out of the back of your mind. She has been internationally recognized for her beauty, song-writing, and fashion modeling, and she is not even seven years old. So who is this Eden Wood? Born February eighteenth, 2005, Eden Wood is well known throughout the pageant world as the unstoppable toddler in creatively bedazzled dresses (Lexton). She started on the pageant stage at the age of one, and “retired” from the industry at the age of six (Canning). Over her run she has received between Forty-Thousand and Fifty-Thousand dollars in winnings. But how, would one suppose, will all of this early influence of beauty and victory affect Eden Wood’s life? The first modern American pageant was held in 1854 by P. T. Barnum. It was shut down due to social protests, but was later replicated in an 1880 “Bathing Beauty Pageant”. They were generally held in the summer, for the sole purpose of them was to show off women in bathing suits. Beauty pageants today are supposed to boost self-confidence and encourage good morals for the participants, however many concerns have been raised about the strong focus being on the preliminary “beauty” aspect. The Contestant Introductions are the basis of the preliminary round in the famed “Miss USA” pageant held in Las Vegas annually. The judging of this round is based solely on beauty and composure of the woman (Miss). Pageant officials undermine the situation when they say that the Miss USA competitions is a scholarship program. The entire focus of this pageant is on the beauty of the women involved. According to Wang Dong, the audience for beauty pageants has a male-female ratio of fifty-four to fourty-six (qtd. in Zhou) which means that males account for over fifty percent of the viewing audience. In this last year of the Miss USA contest, the judging panel consisted of four males and two females, allowing two-thirds of the votes to the males’ idea of beauty (Pageant Life). The viewing audience has a generous amount of women as well. How often do you think women at home look at the contestants and want to look just like them? Pageantry creates unrealistic ideals of beauty, objectifies women, and highly increases the pressure to be society’s ideal of perfect. Simply putting on a touch of mascara and blush can make some women have that extra little spark to their face, however in the pageant world cosmetics are taken to a completely different level. In child pageants, it is not uncommon for little girls to obtain artificial tans, nails, eyelashes, hair, and even teeth for their events (Lexton). These girls’ parents spend thousands of dollars every pageant, only increasing the national amount spent on cosmetics annually. The USA spends an estimated one-hundred-seventy-million dollars on cosmetics every year (Armstrong). The cosmetics industry got its start long before modern civilization. In ancient times, the Romans used perfumes made out of various oils in their baths to add an appealing smell to themselves. The Egyptians used pigments to rouge their lips and cheeks and made a powder to make their eyebrows black and defined. Both cultures took great pride in their looks, and used them to show signs of wealth. This translated to later times when Europeans judged the class of a person based on the fairness of skin. The paler the skin was, the more leisure time the person had indoors which directly translated into their ranking in society. The want for a high class life led people to have a want for the apparent ideal of beauty, thus creating a pressure to be perfect (Chaudhri). When women feel that make-up doesn’t do enough to enhance their beauty, or if they feel like there is something about them that doesn’t make them beautiful, they turn to other, more drastic means. Cosmetic surgery, more popularly known as...
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