Child Beauty Pageants: Positive or Poisonous?

Topics: Beauty contest, Child beauty pageant, Childhood Pages: 7 (2645 words) Published: October 15, 2012
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...

Bibliography: Cartwright, Martina M. “ The Leading Psychology Today Site on the Net.” The Leading Psychology Today Site on the Net. N.p., 12 Aug. 2011. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. <>.
This article focuses on the effect of child beauty pageants has on the young girls and sometimes girls participating. Many problems rise from participation such as self-esteem issues and also problems with self-identity. “Education takes a back seat,” says Cartwright, author of the article, presenting another issue. She also concludes that the vigor of these pageants can be too much for these young children and that the parents either don’t care or don’t see it. This article is credible being that it’s written by Martina M. Cartwright, Ph.D., R.D., in Food For Thought. It’s also credible in that the website, Psychology Today, is where the article is found. This website is solely focused on issues in the psychology realm. This source was helpful also providing me with extensive detail and presenting the difference of society’s views and the pageants mom’s views on the topic.
Grosaru, Lucia. “Toddlers and children beauty pageants – Risk factors for severe psychological turmoils.” Psychology Corner. 8 June 2011. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. <>.
This article begins by explaining what these beauty pageants consist of and presents the argument that they only have one goal: “get the money and get the tiara.” It also explains the difference between a child wanting to do it and a parent living through their child. The article then highlights specific habits and/or problems participation could create. This source is credible being that it comes from a psychology-based website called Psychology Corner focusing mainly on these sorts of issues and topics. It was also posted in Lifestyle magazine. This source was helpful in that it focused on other issues like mother’s living their lives through their children that other sources didn’t.
Henson, Melissa. “’Toddlers and Tiaras’ and Sexualizing 3-year-olds –” CNN. Cable News Network, 13 Sept. 2011. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. <>.
This article focuses on TLC’s hit reality show Toddlers and Tiaras and its “mired controversy.” This article sided with the fact that sexualizing a 3 year old is wrong, as most would agree. The driving factor of this article is what TLC released footage of a 3 year old dressed like the prostitute (Julia Roberts) in the movie Pretty Woman stirring up much controversy in the media. This source is credible being that was written and edited by Melissa Henson, director of communications and public education for the “Parents Television Council” (a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment). The article not only showcases a popular TV show, it also uses information from the American Psychological Association of February 2007. This source was helpful in providing numerous points to support my argument.
Maliakal, Lalan. “Child Beauty Pageants – Pros and Cons.”, 12 Jan. 2010. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. <>.
This article focuses on what’s good and what’s not so good concerning child beauty pageants. It begins by explaining the death of JonBenet Ramsey who participated in these pageants. According to this article, her death led to “harsh criticism of child beauty pageants.” It also focuses on the question “who is to be blamed?…The parents for letting their children divert into the world of fashion at a very tender age, the media for creating a hype about such beauty pageants, or the organizers for tapping the potential market in child modeling. This article is credible because it provides an abundance of reasons why it is good and why the pageants could be considered bad. It focuses on both sides of the issue therefore it is not biased. It topic is also supported by a tragic event in history, the death of six-year-old JonBenet. This article was helpful providing me with points on both sides of the argument so I could fully see what how truly sided with the argument.
“When Beauty Becomes a Beast.” Together. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2012. <>.
This article focuses on the somewhat negative progression child beauty pageants have made over the years. It all started “fairly benign” with young girls wearing appropriate dresses, conveying to still have an innocence. In 1996, the “goodness” of child pageantry diminished when six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was murdered. She was, in fact, involved in these pageants and seemingly though it was unrelated to her death, child beauty pageants got a bad rap. Jumping all the way to 2009, several years later, reality TV shows were “crowned king” including TLC’s Toddler’s and Tiaras. The show didn’t help the reputation of child beauty pageants. It in fact “catapult[ed] the scrutiny and controversy even farther.” The article concludes in bringing up the pageants’ effects of child development and behavioral issues “due to parental influence.” This source was credible because the article mentioned two professionsals, Dr. Kim Dennis and Kirsten Haglund. Dr. Dennis is a certified psychiatrist specializing in treating addictions eating disorders, etc., a Medical Director at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, and also a nationally known speaker and writer. Haglund has earned the title of Miss America in the year of 2008, eating disorders awareness advocate and a community relation’s specialist at Timberline Knolls. It was also credible because it mentioned a significant time in history of Ramsey’s death and also commented on a well-known reality show to support its points. This source was helpful in the fact that it provided numerous points supported with credible examples and references.
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