“Children are the fastest growingsegment of the beauty pageant market with annual children’s competitionsattracting an estimated three million children, mostly girls, from the ages ofsix months to 16 years who compete for crowns and cash” (Schultz & Murphy).Usually, a child beauty pageant contest will consist in a round of beauty,where the child will be evaluated in their personality, confidence, appearanceand runway, the second round consist of a outfit of choice, and then a talentround in which the contestants will present a gift such as singing, dancing,acting, etcetera. The second and third round may vary, in other words it couldconsist of other themes, it depends of the beauty pageant organizer. Thesepageants give, to the girls, an opportunity to bring out the best in them andat the same time outgrowing their self confidence. Moreover, child beautypageants have changed over the years with children going further and further tolook more attractive, taking away the innocence, and depriving the girls toenjoy being young and to be free at a young age.
There are far more harmfulelements of a pageant than helpful, which leads to fake appearances, tonegative attitude and the sexualization of young girls. As a child it has become custom toexplore in our mom’s world, using their high heels and modeling with them, thenputting some makeup and dressing up with their clothes. However, in the beautypageants industry it is different because the child does not have the samefreedom of choice making. When it comes to pageant young girls are transformfrom head to toes, based on wearing short puffy sparkling rhinestone dresses,hair pieces (such like hair extensions), fake nails, spray tan, professionalmakeup, and “flippers,” which are false teeth used to cap missingfront teeth. Transforming your five year old daughter to resemble a 20 year oldwoman is different to playing with mommy’s make up and dressing up. “Dress upis a sign of a child identifying with or mimicking the mother” (Wiehe), whichis significantly dissimilar from the concept of child beauty pageants.
Meanwhile,some parents still say that child beauty pageants are like playing dress up.According to Wiehe, “dress up generally is an activity engaged in by young girlalone or with a group of playmates at home rather than on a stage in front ofan audience.” But playing dress up on the pageant stage costs parentsfinancially. Eden Wood’s mom, Mickie, isan example of a parent who have invested a lot of money in this contest, “Ihave invested in pageant around sixty-five to seven thousand dollars” (7:41-7:56). Parentsspend a great deal of money and usually does not receive half of it back. The point is that such costsshould not be allowed in a competition that should focus on the natural beautyof the contestants and not the creation of a falsehood or transform beauty of achild.
Oneof the main concerns is that pageants push the girls into the realm ofsexuality, long before their time, “the sexualization of girls is happening ata younger and younger age as children, even toddlers, are bombarded with aplethora of adult influences and perceptions, studies say” (Morgan). “Beautypageants are exploitative, pressuring children to adopt sexualized adultmannerism that they do not fully understand and enforcing the message thatphysical appearance is all important” (Day). Sexualization takes place on stagewhen the young girls are transformed to resemble a woman, to manifest howpretty they are, and when they must do playful but provoking routines to grabthe attention of not only judges but the audience. “Essentially, young pageantgirls are trained to flirt and exploit their nascent sexuality in order to win”(Lieberman).
Schultz & Murphy confirms that, “some experts argue that itcan be harmful to girls, teaching them that their self-worth is measured by howpretty they are.” Nowadays, all this is typical of a child beauty contest yetmany in the pageant industry insist is it a harmless entertainment which leadsto an increase of confidence and self-esteem on young girls.Foryears, the main controversy it has been if child beauty pageants are good forthe young girls. Mostly, the main argument is that promotes the encounter ofconfidence and increase in self-esteem, also that is fun for the children. Regardless,in order to win, the child has to dedicate hours of practice to obtain perfectroutines depriving the kid of enjoying some time with other kids their age.Also, it could be exhausting and agonizing for the child, while for the parentunpleasant financially. It is true that child beauty pageant leads to confidenceand high self-esteem yet the child could become shallow or overconfident byestablishing to much attention on their physical beauty.
If win more often thanlose, the child could become spoiled or even egocentric, however if they do notwin could develop insecurities. Childbeauty pageants could promote self confidence in little girls. But there arefar more harmful elements of a pageant than helpful, which leads to fakeappearances, to negative attitude and the sexualization of young girls. Thesebeauty contests deprive the little girls from being little because to accomplishthe pageants requirements they must transform the young girl to resemble awoman, in order to win. Importantly taking away their innocence every time theymust do provocative routines to be more attention grabbing for the audience andjudges.
These young girls do not have the knowledge of what they are gettinginto. Do not know they are riding up to a lifestyle that takes away a normaland free childhood. They need to spend more time to themselves other thanfocusing on being a young woman and getting a perfect routine. They should beout there having a beautiful a memorable childhood by being creative andenjoying life.