I believe that child beauty pageants – particularly infant beauty pageants are a form of child exploitation. Infants do not have a voice to speak for themselves, they cannot choose what they are and are not involved in – this must be done by their caregivers, usually their parents. Forcing children to be involved in beauty pageants is a choice solely for the parents – not a decision made with the child’s best interest in mind. I have seen many toddler beauty pageants where are wearing extreme amounts of make-up, fake hair, fake teeth, and some even have been tanning in preparation for the pageant. I do not feel this is something a child should be doing – they should be playing with their friends, not competing against them. A young child should not be forced to practice their beauty walk and their Barbie smile for hours on end preparing for a pageant. Children should be children.
I cannot believe that parents would allow their children to purposely be judged for their looks. I have heard so many people say it is whats on the inside that counts – yet children are put into pageants and forced to be someone they are not. Every child loses their teeth – it’s a natural stage that children go through, however in the pageant world this is unacceptable. A child who is in the high end children beauty pageants will wear a flipper – or a set of false teeth to cover their natural teeth. Up to 250,000 children enter pageants each year – with 247,000 leaving empty handed. These children are told they are not good enough strictly based on a bathing suit, talent, and beauty wear competition. How does this teach a child self-esteem? It doesn’t. It teaches the exact opposite – that for some reason a child has a flaw which makes them inferior to another person.
I went to a charity pageant at my former high school, hoping it would be a positive experience to change my opinion on pageants. I was wrong. There was a mini miss category, with was for children under three years of age. There were two contestants, both whose mother held their hand and walked them across stage in almost matching dresses. The two girls were asked their favorite color – one said pink, the other purple. At awards ceremony, I could not believe when they announced a winner between the two toddler girls, presented one with flowers, a trophy, a sash and a tiara, and the other left standing in tears with nothing.
How do you tell a young girl she is not beautiful? I have no idea. But it happens all over the United States through these pageants. I have been taught my entire life to accept everyone and not to pass judgments on people – but the children in the pageants are being judged in this negative way. I believe that putting children in beauty pageants is only encouraging negative competition, harboring insecurities, and fostering negative self esteem.
Childhood beauty pageants can have many long term negative effects on children. Parents need to think very hard about the decision to put their young children in beauty pageants, and consider the long term negative affect they can have on their self esteem.
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