The Negative Side to Beauty Pageants in Children's Lives

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17 April 2012
The Negative Side to Beauty Pageants in Children’s Lives
Two hours before the pageant, in a crowded hotel room, a mother and her two daughters are rushing to accomplish all of the last minute tasks. The stressed mother is doing her best to keep the youngest child calm and in her seat while she gets her extensions put in and her hair plastered into the style of the day. The little girl is screaming because her head hurts from her hair being yanked on and she is sick of sitting in the same spot for so long. The older sister is trying to bring the little girl back to a calm state of mind so she can finish caking her face with make-up and fix what has been smeared from the constant tears. Once the hair and make-up is finished, they bring out the outfits that resemble those of a professional belly dancer, and the little one gets dressed for the pageant. After wrestling with the little girl to get her dressed, the time-crunched mother runs through the lines and moves over and over again with her daughter, making sure she has them imprinted in her brain. The last part of the costume is put on as they are getting ready to leave, and the little girl cries as the tight dentures are forced into her mouth. The small child wipes her tears, smiles, and says “I want that crown!” as she walks out the door. Putting a child through any type of beauty pageant so young can be detrimental to their self-image and overall extremely harmful. That type of competition can seriously damage a child's mind. Shows like "Toddlers & Tiaras" not only teach little girls that beauty is everything, but most of the time it is just the mother living their dream through their child. Sometimes it's not even the child's choice; they are forced to compete in pageants. Some of the outfits that the girls wear are so revealing and "sexy" that the parents should be ashamed to allow their child to go on stage. So many children today are put in pageants and made to think life is about nothing more than outer beauty. Beauty pageants can make kids grow up way too fast and can also lead to eating disorders later in life. Competitions of these sorts can train children to think that beauty and talent are everything, leaving the rest of their childhood behind.

In children beauty pageants, the little girls have to wear excessive amounts of make-up, hair extensions, tons of hairspray, fake teeth known as "flippers", and revealing and princess-like costumes. Those are just a few things that the girls have to worry about, but those are the things that make them "beautiful". Their mothers and family members make sure their hair and make-up are just right, and teach them how to walk and twist their face into a tortured smile to grab the judge’s attention. Lisa Grosaru, a psychologist who has studied these pageant contestants, says that if the mother can't coach the child herself, she hires a trainer to take her place. Children so young should not be worried about how big their hair is, how much mascara they have on, or how white their fake teeth are. Being so caught up in all of these things can teach children that beauty is everything, and if they don't live up to the world's expectations, they aren't good enough or beautiful. Kareen Nussbaum, a student at Brooklyn College, says that during an interview with a ten-year-old child contestant she “never mentioned coming education; she solely relied on her appearance for her future.” Mothers of young pageant girls often express to their children that they have to do better in order to win and beat the competition. It is not out of the ordinary for them to tell their girls the other competition has them beat and can perform better in order to tear down their own child's confidence and try and make them perform better.

As a result of all the things that factor into the pageants, Anna Wonderlich, a student at the University of Minnesota, states that "Depression scores were higher, and self-esteem scores lower,...
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