Child Beauty Pageants: Positive or Poisonous?

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Makayla Todd
Mrs. Heather Huffman
First Year Experience
3 October 2012
Layered makeup. Clouds of hairspray. False teeth and lashes. Exotic hairstyles and outfits. Provocative postures. Awkward facial expressions. This is the perfect description of Barbie, right? No. These are society’s pretty little girls spiraling down to destruction. For many years, young children, mostly girls, have spent way too many hours practicing a routine or exercising their smile to score high in the intense competition of child beauty pageants. These pampered princesses are brainwashed by their mothers to have one goal in mind: “get the money or get the tiara” (Grosaru 1). Most of these beauties finally dwindle down and end up having self-identity or self-esteem problems. Is this the state these young girls should be in to attribute to a successful future of their generation? Despite the negative side of this topic, there are a few positive aspects. According to the article “Child Beauty Pageants – Pros and Cons,” these events teach these young girls “discipline, patience, and confidence.” However, the bad out-weighs the good creating major controversy in society and in the media today on whether these pageants are positive or poisonous. Yes, a lot of little girls love to play dress up, but should it be a full-time job (Grosaru 2)? Child beauty pageants date all the way back to the 1920s. However, the first beauty pageant in the United States took place in the 1960s (Child Beauty Pageants – Pros and Cons 1). Pageants were a gateway for tourism to flourish. To this day, young girls all over America compete in pageants year round. These competitions have progressed tremendously over the decades. For many years, child beauty pageants were considered to be “fairly benign” (When Beauty Becomes A Beast 1). They have transformed from “frilly party dresses and satin ribbons” to “conveniently seduc[ing] the very essence of beauty, confidence and poise to gain its position in the world of fashion” (Child Beauty Pageants – Pros and Cons 1). The death of the young JonBenet Ramsey, a pageant contestant, in 1996 ruined this “innocent vision” society had on beauty pageants. The six year old was murdered and although beauty pageants were seemingly unrelated to her death, a lot of controversy erupted because of the fact that she was involved in beauty pageants. She was the spotlight of every news channel showcasing videos of the Colorado girl provocatively singing and dancing. This is where the harsh criticism of beauty pageants all began.

These pageants spark issues, whether it be emotion, social, or physical, then create other issues and then more problems resembling a domino and snowball effect; when one problem leads to another and that problem to another and so on. Self-esteem is a big issue in pageants. For instance, a five year old shouldn’t be on a diet to maintain that perfect, slender body. All a young child needs is to be loved by her parents and to gain confidence. Mothers today are pressuring their daughters to make their appearance flawless and sometimes even compare them to Barbie This brainwashes them to believe if they don’t look like Barbie, they’re ugly or not good enough. Not having that perfect shape or not pleasing your mother’s wishes could lead to issues with depression going hand in hand with a low self-esteem. Melissa Henson, argues that “self-esteem and depression; leads to fewer girls pursuing careers in science, technology,” etc. in her article “Toddlers and Tiaras and sexualizing 3-year-olds.” Therefore, this issue not only affects the girls, it also affects everyone around. Participation in activities that focus on body image or physical appearance an such a tender age has a better chance of influencing a child’s body image, maybe igniting diseases like anorexia or bulimia, their self-worth feeling like their not and will never be good enough, or their self-identity. These issues can be a problem all the way into adulthood...
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