Should child beauty pageants be banned?
- After a failed attempt to launch the first US beauty pageant for women in 1854, one year later P.T. Barnum successfully produced the first child beauty pageant he entitled the “National Baby Show.” This event featured 143 child contestants and attracted over 60,000 spectators.
- Child beauty pageants feature children ranging from 6 to 16 and can cost contestants upwards of thousands of dollars to compete.
- In 2013, France’s Parliament moved to ban the practice of child beauty pageants, citing concerns for hyper-sexualization of children under the age of 16.
- TLC’s hit show Toddlers and Tiaras (2009-2016) showcased the life of the child beauty pageant families and contestants, and introduced an unsuspecting American audience to the feisty “Honey Boo Boo” and her pageant mom with gems such as these.
Although there have been criticisms directed toward child beauty pageant's glitz and glamor, we cannot deny its socially-empowering outcomes.
Pageant earnings act as a 'savior fund' to finance mounting college costs, thus securing their future education. Amidst skyrocketing inflation, the cost of college tuition has been escalating by 1375% since 1978. A top reason 51% of students drop out of college is due to financial pressure.
As parents juggle work, child beauty pageants stand as a catalyst to nurture parent-child relationships. It's a 'caregiver platform' for mothers and daughters to bond over activities, bridge generation gaps, and form a trustworthy connection between parent and child. When early maternal sensitive caregiving is received in the first three years by the child, he/she performs better academically and goes onto attain healthier relationships in their 30s.
Child beauty pageants are a way to begin mentoring children early, teaching them freedom of expression. Children are guided to express their ideas and creative choices freely. They are acquainted with the thought pattern that 'it's absolutely okay to come out in the public with your preferences and choices.'
Contestants blowing kisses to the judges and performing with high energy is simply a stylish attitude test and only instills confidence in children right from the start! Higher self-esteem scores are associated with an increased level of competition from local to international pageants. Pageant kids don't grow up fearful but instead with a level of confidence that is jaw-dropping, be it in the beauty industry or any other field they one day choose.
As norms progress, people learn to be more lenient with their views and become accepting of others. However, one event manages to objectify, sexualize, and institutionalize not only adults but also children, keeping up with outdated expectations: beauty pageants. Compared to adult beauty pageants, child beauty pageants are ten-times as worse and twice as psychologically and physically harming, almost as if fulfilling the parent's needs, which often enter into the realms of child abuse.
Superficial and fake, child beauty pageants surround body image with considerable negativity, having unrealistic conditions as to the size, height, and even looks of a child, which spawns what some call 'The Princess Syndrome.' These conditions not only lead children to become insecure and obsessed with their external appearance as they grow up, but it also causes them to develop severe stress-related mental illnesses or eating disorders. Those from the pageant world who become anorexic or buy into fad diet cultures are mainly due to a tremendous self-esteem loss. Such beauty pageants also tend to influence other children who often develop bodily issues; 8 out of 10 ten-year-olds in the US have dieted.
Another reason child beauty pageants should be banned is that it leads to children's sexualization/institutionalization, often causing sexual predators to become obsessed with them. This is due to the fact children are put through a 'diluted form of pornography,' which magnifies and projects some adult motivations. In the end, beauty pageants do not impart love and appreciation for children but rather make them feel rejected.