Do Child Beauty Pageants Create Sexualization? Essay

Every little girl dreams to be beautiful like a princess. Today’s children’s beauty pageants are prejudicial to a child’s development. These pageants can lead to low self-esteem and poor body image. I believe parents should not pressure these children to participate in these type of events. These beauty pageants overly expose little girls, that can eventually lead to a sex offender’s interest. Not only do these problems contribute to sexualization, these children are taught to be rewarded for their looks and appearance, not their personality.

It is not right for a childhood to be taken over by superficiality. Kids should not be wearing make-up or worrying about their appearance for a pageant at such a young age. Child beauty pageants are contests judging on poise, looks and confidence. A certain argument supporting these beauty pageants is often used that pageants promote self-esteem in children. This argument only works if you are the winner of the pageant, self-esteem would not be boosted if you lose.

Take note not only of the time, effort, and money wasted. The child would feel sad that she was not good enough for the judges.

Laura Buick, organizer of the Little Miss Bayside Pageant says,” The Little Miss Bayside Pageant is not about false teeth, fake tans and over the top rhinestone gowns. We want to encourage children and promote self esteem through a fun and supportive experience.” Pageants are based on children flaunting themselves for judges to get points that are based on their looks, this is not supporting self-esteem. No one feels better about themselves for losing, especially when you are a child and you lost because of your looks, it could be heart breaking for this child.

Parents enter their child in beauty pageants because these competitions teach their children valuable life lessons and skills. Pageants can appear to be teaching children to be confident, how to handle themselves and dress appropriately, and can help them make friends as well. But in pageants, confidence is not boosted, self-esteem suffers and the way children act, showing themselves off and valuing their appearance, is not the person they should learn to be. When constantly being compared to others, being judged on how pretty they are, their self-esteem negatively is affected when losing in a competition.

“Winning is very important, said 9- year old Brooke McClung, who added that when she doesn’t win she feels sad.”(canning). Beauty contests are based on looks, and with her mother’s expectations, it is no wonder why McClung feels sad and disappointed in herself. “I should’ve done better, I should have done better. I should have nailed it.” Children are made to feel they need expensive dresses, make-up, fake tans, to be acceptable. “I like make-up, and I like the hair spray, she said (4-year old Eden Wood). Make-up makes me feel happy. I like being pretty on stage with my make-up on”. This four-year-old girl has been doing pageants for her whole short life.

“Wood said she can afford the $70,000 she spent on these pageants, what’s the benefit? You can only regain the money by winning. Eden’s mother claims she affords pageants, some families are going in debt because of the expenses. “Pageants officials admit some families have gone into debt, even paying entry fees before paying rent.” Parents are consumed in these pageants and are forgetting they have a family that needs a place to live and dedication from their moms. Should a child really be learning the desire to win a contest with minimal benefits are more important than having a place to live? (canning)

The pageants, with all their negative side-effects, take up a large part of the child’s life. Issues with the child beauty pageants is that some participants are not even interested in it, it’s the parent’s choice. Some children are too young to make their own decisions, therefore too young to make to be exploiting their bodies, others participate because of the pressure from their parents. As Shasmus says in “Ugly Truth: TLC Show is an Abomination” the pageants are enjoyed far more by mothers of the children than the participants themselves, some tired contestants fell asleep during judging and their parents shook them awake to get back up on stage (shasmus).

In Elizabeth’s Day’s “Living Dolls”, she asks a young pageant-goer about her experience. “Did she, Amber 7 years old contestant, enjoy entering the beauty pageant? Amber thinks for a second and then nods her head. Will she be entering anymore? “Yes, she pauses, a touch uncertainly, if my mummy told me to.” Perfect example of a parent pressuring their child into these competitions. Everything about a pageant is promoting superficiality. Why would we want to accelerate the process and pressure the children before even finishing primary school? Children should grow up learning that personality and intelligence are most important, not appearance.

Do child beauty pageants threaten the realm of childhood and innocence? “Telka, an 11 year old who was a one-time pageant contestant, acknowledges that it was not nice to dress up, but I didn’t like the way really young children were putting on make-up. When you are a child, you are supposed to enjoy your childhood and have fun” (Day). Children should be out playing, not surrounded by an environment where they are taught the only thing important is looks. Child pageants contribute to the sexualization of younger girls. Children’s beauty pageants have risks, like low self-esteem and poor body image, also consume of money and time. A child’s well-being and mental health is not worth a trophy or tiara.

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