The debate about child beauty pageants in Australia is getting particularly ugly. Ever since the US group ‘Universal Royalty Beauty Pageant’ announced plans to hold its first Australian competition in Melbourne, the cries of protest from parent groups, psychologists and children's rights organisations have been loud and fierce.
“Would you stand your two daughters side by side in the lounge room and tell one of them that she’s more beautiful than the other?” Pull The Pin organiser, Catherine Manning said. For most people that’s a resounding no, and the reason is obviously not just because of the impact you have on the girl that you tell isn’t the most beautiful, but you're also sending a really strange message to the girl that you tell is the most beautiful.
Adolescent and child psychotherapist, Collett Smart, states that “it’s cruel to judge little girls on their appearance. To say to a young girl, no, you're not pretty enough.” It’s harmful to a young girl’s self-esteem to tell her that she simply isn’t pretty enough and that’s the only reason she didn’t win the pageant. It starts to lead to three of the most common mental health problems in girls and women; eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression.
In 2002, Stacey Weiner conveyed a study for a column she was writing on seventh-grade girls who viewed idolised magazine images of women, reported a drop in body satisfaction and a rise in depression.
In 2005, a study conducted by Anna Wonderlich, of the University of Minnesota, eleven women who took part in child beauty pageants were compared to eleven women who did not. The study found pageant contestants score higher on body dissatisfaction, interpersonal...