It is no surprise that every girl, young and old, wants to be or at least feel beautiful. But it is a surprise when self-destruction and low self-esteem defines the word beauty. We ask ourselves, why is this happening? Why are there so many headlines in newspapers about young girls committing suicide? It’s time to stop asking why and start asking what the problem is. What is the cause of the issue and is there any way to solve it? There can be many roots to the problem but the one I want to focus on in this paper is children beauty pageants. Some people think that beauty pageants are good for children but I personally do not think children should participate in beauty pageants because they create a pathway to eating disorders, low self-esteem, and can be more easily targeted by predators. Parents think that they are doing them well but in reality, the child competing is being deprived from a normal childhood and the parents are only harming them. The children are being taught that their body and attractiveness will determine how pretty they are and that sexuality at a young age is a good quality.
Beauty pageants focus a lot on appearance and on how you present yourself. I believe that everyone is beautiful and I strongly believe that beauty comes within and not from the outside. However, children who grow up in the pageant industry, start to learn that a big part of the competition has to do with your physical attraction. Now, there are little girls wearing fake eyelashes with cakey faces because excessive makeup will make you look “prettier”. However, why change the concept when beauty pageants did not require any makeup when they first started. What happens when the child is older and gets acne or needs braces. Since the perception of perfection and beauty has already been painted to them, they no longer think of themselves as beautiful. What happens when they gain a little weight and get points deducted for not complimenting the outfit they are modeling? They start thinking that they need to fix something about themselves and some girls will take those measures to the extreme. All of a sudden we have young girls searching the web on how to quickly lose weight and what appears on the screen is disturbing. Surgery; but wait, there is not enough money and their parents probably would not allow it. Anorexia/Bulimia (eating disorders that rapidly cause someone to lose weight by starvation or purging); well that’s easy because no one will ever find out. Now we have these girls browsing on how to become these things. Next thing you know, we have a group of fifteen teenage girls in a rehab facility having a difficult time of accepting themselves for who they are.
Some of the pieces they wear for the runway are provocative and are an open invitation to pedophiles. It’s important for everyone to know that people with a disturbed mentality as such will possess anything they admire by any means. For example, JonBenet Ramsey was a beauty queen who won her first beauty pageant at the age of four. In the month of December, at age 6, her mother found a note in the kitchen at approximately 5:00 AM stating that JonBenet was being held at ransom for $118,000. Police made a couple of mistakes by not closing down the premises as a crime scene and allowing friends and family to walk in and out. When the father was asked to walk the house for anything unusual, he searched the basement and there the beauty queen was found murdered. She had a skull fracture and had been sexually molested and strangled with a cord. Her cause of death was asphyxia by strangulation. Although the case is still cold, investigators believe that her publicity made her an easy target for any assassin (Oates 1999). JonBenet was such a darling! She was an American beauty queen with blue eyes, porcelain skin, and blonde hair. Every child is beautiful in these pageants but unfortunately, these beauties are exposed in the media as well as their parents information and residence stay. Law enforcement has put a huge emphasize on the security of teenagers walking alone and with the information that they share on social networking. If this pressure of care is being put on older teenagers, then isn’t it our job to put a greater emphasize with the care of our children due to the fact that they are more vulnerable and have little chance of escaping a full grown adult? It doesn’t take a lot for a killer to commit a murder as we can see with the case of JonBenet. She was not only killed in her own home but there were no traces as to who could have done it. There was no force of entry and obviously, no way of the parents hearing their little girl. Why put children at risk for the simplicity of fame and money? Are parents that selfish that all they think about is living their childhood again through their children. Little girls do not like to have their hair pulled and they don’t like to be sitting in a chair for hours putting on makeup. So much of their appearance is judged that even the skin tone matters. Ten year olds are getting spray tanned and are going through a long process when all they should be doing is going to school, making friends, starting a little bit of trouble, and enjoying their childhood. When is there time to do all that when you are so focused on memorizing a script and getting your hair done? My real curiosity is how a beauty pageant judges beauty when the girls are all made up? The message is clear that the judges need to see makeup and thinness in order for a child to be considered for the beauty queen title. Some children participate in pageants at such a young age that it is all they know. They like to make their mothers proud so making the choice that they don’t want to participate feels like a disappointment. Pageant mothers are harshly criticized because of the way that they behave with their children during competitions. Sometimes the parents don’t listen to what the child is asking for and is focusing on only the win. They get so wrapped up in the winning that it’s embarrassing for them to not go home with a prize. They’ll even pay a little extra just to have a better chance at winning (Nauert 17). No mother should ever be embarrassed of their child and it is even worse when the mother gets upset at their daughter for making an understanding mistake. There are no valid excuses for the mothers when the child is throwing a tantrum but isn’t that behavior normal for children of all ages? Just because they are dressing and looking like sixteen year olds does not mean that they actually have the same mentality as one.
Children beauty pageants range from the ages of sixth months to 16 years old. Since an infant does not have the ability to walk nor stand by herself, the mother comes out on stage with the baby in her arms. You would think that they would not permit an infant to wear makeup or tan the skin but they do. They will offer the service but it is ultimately up to the parents to make the choice (Seaman 18). However, if your baby is competing in a pageant and you want her to win what are you going to do? You have to make her to the same level as the other infants if you want her to have a chance at winning so there you go dolling her up. Why are we making these children grow up way too soon? The sexuality they bring into these pageants come a little too early for them. Lets’ not define beauty for these girls in our eyes. They should have the opportunity to mold themselves to whoever they want to be in their own style at their own time.
Nauert, Nick. “Child Beauty Pageants May be More About Parents.” Psychcentral. n.p. Grohol John M., 28 Apr. 2013. Web. 29 Oct. 2012. Oates, Joyce Carol. "The Mystery of JonBenet Ramsey." The New York Review of Books, 46.11 (1999): 31-36. Schultz, Kristen. “Beauty Pageants Draw Children and Criticism.” New York Times.New York Times, 26 Feb. 2011. Web. 8 Mar. 2013. Seaman, Donna. "Little Beauties." The Booklist, 101.21 (2005): 1896.