Child Beauty Pageants
Beauty pageants are one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.
While interest in adult beauty pageants has diminished over the years, child beauty
pageants are flourishing.
Should parents be able to force their children into such a “tool
aimed industry?” Are pageants a way of allowing children to explore their childhood, or
should measures be taken to avoid such controversy?
Child beauty pageants became a part of American society in the 1960’s.
ages one to thirteen could compete in these pageants, which were “originated as a
marketing tool” (Nussbaum).
As years passed, “pageants served as political, educational
and entertaining events” (Nussbaum).
Child beauty pageants consisted of modeling
sportswear, evening attire, dance and talent. Children are judged on having the “complete
package,” such as looks, poise, perfection and confidence. School aged children were
“researched based on the influence competition has on their education and self-
confidence” (Nussbaum). In the pageants, children are divided into groups by their age. If
needed, parents were able to introduce their children to the audience.
Growing up, most children are taught that beauty is only skin deep and that real
beauty lies within.
They are told to love people for who they are, not what they look like.
Yet everyday, parents contradict such morals by entering their children in beauty
pageants to compete in a “game” where winning and losing are based solely on physical
characteristics. Many children are never even given a choice, they are simply pushed into
it by parents who vicariously thrive on their adorable offspring (Hoover).
unfortunate reality about beauty pageants is that they mirror certain societal values that
stress appearance and status as the most important attributes.
advertisements, and beauty magazines emphasize the need to be beautiful and skinny
with flawless features.
Due to this abundance of publicity, children develop eating
disorders, depression, and low self-esteem trying to keep up with the image that society
defines as beautiful (Hoover).
Beauty pageants merely enhance that theme.
winners develop an egotistical self-image, while the losers are made to feel like
Children are taught that beauty wins recognition, money, the
biggest trophies, and the perfect crowns (Hoover).
Opponents of child beauty pageants claim that children do as their parents tell
them, that the choice to enter pageants it made entirely by the parents.
impose age-inappropriate costumes on their children, such as Las Vegas style rip-away
dance outfits, show girls outfits, and heavy make-up (Controversy Over).