TheChild Beauty Pageant
Thechild pageant is a beauty contest including participants within theage bracket between infancy and thirteen-year-old. Most of thecontestants are girls who are promoted to the junior teenage, teenageand adult competitions after child pageant stage (Martina, 1106).This sport is highly controversial, and the contestants’ parentsare frequently criticized and scrutinized for participating inrecruiting their children to take part in the child pageant. Whenasked what motivates most parents to subject their children to suchhigh pressure a clinician who counsels young entertainers said
“BenignABP occurs when parents, coaches, or other adults experience prideand satisfaction through a child`s achievements.”
Mostpeople argue that parents should be permitted to force their childrento wear, say or do anything that might potentially be harmful totheir children. The pageant contests started back in the early 1960s,but the new glitz pageants attracted public attention first in 1995after the death of a five-year-old beauty queen called Jon-BenetRamsey (Martina, 1106). In 2001 a beauty documentary called livingdolls was launched followed by the introduction of Toddlers andTiaras in 2009. Since the late 90s, the beauty pageant has risensteeply and presently approximately 16,000 glitz and natural childpageant take pale every year in the United States where more than290,000 children participate. This essay will discuss the negativeimpact of child beauty pageant concentrating on the creation of lowself-esteem among the participants, intense training and the costinvolved in show activity.
Creationof Low Self-Esteem among Participants
Oneof the adverse impacts of the child beauty pageant is creating anotion of a child that natural beauty is not enough. In this contestschildren are made to believe that their natural smile is appealing,their hair is not long enough and they are not pretty enough to be ina position of taking award home (Martina, 1107). As a result, theyare subjected to thorough preparations to make them look attractive.Their caretakers add long hair pieces, acrylic nails, coloredcontacts and false eyelashes to enhance the beauty of the childrenfurther. This accepted preparation method for evening wear categoryof these contests lowers the self-esteem of the children and makethem have a negative image about their bodies (Martina, 1107).
“Issueswith self-identity after a child ‘retires’ from the pageant scenein their teens are not uncommon. Struggles with perfection, dieting,eating disorders and body image can take their toll into adulthood,”assertsCartwrightadietitian for high-powered entertainment groups. Parents’ obsessionto make their children look as perfect as possible, judgesconcentrates more on trivial details when assessing the contestants.Subsequently, children often scrutinize their appearance incomparison with the others looking for flaws. This category creates aperspective that “Beauty on the inside is what ugly people say.” The notion set up on the need to enhance the natural beauty at ayoung age can be carried on even to adulthood. The hypercriticalenvironment in these individuals’ youth produces an urge towardsthe unachievable physical perfection goal. Some of the individualswho participated in the child beauty pageant have unrealisticexpectations to become thin, physically prettier and perfect and as aresult, most will engage in the disordered eating bodydissatisfaction practices.
Thehighly competitive nature of these contests demands that one shouldbe thoroughly prepared if at all he/she is to take something home.Anyone participating in this competitions must be flawless, and thusit is not surprising to see these children exposed to greaterpressure to perform faultlessly.
“Thechild pageant and dance circuits are competitive, demanding andstressful.  Watch any reality dance or pageant show and see howchildren are placed under enormous pressure to perform perfectly,”confirmed Cartwright.
Tears,irritability and fits often occur where some adults even mock thecrying kids (Cassie). As a result, some children believe that theparents’ or the adults’ love and appreciation are based on howperfectly they appear or how well their presence ignite the audience.To manage this kind of perfection, kids taking part in the childbeauty pageant are subjected to lengthy practice sessions which areusually very demanding and stressful (Cassie). They must attend thetraining sessions in their respective areas to practice pageantbehavior and routines for hours. They participate in tumblinglessons, dance classes, voice lessons amongst others with the aim ofperfecting in these areas which does not come easily. This is usuallydone at the expense of their social life activities. Participatingchildren sacrifice their sleep and education for such sessions withsome parents encouraging the activity over studies considering theamount of money it is generating (Lucy,427).Children never seem happy when it comes to practicing and preparationmoments and to make them cooperate parents bribe them with sweets,toys, fun trips, electronics and much more.
CostInvolved In Pageant Activity
Inthe entire activity of pageantry, including training, preparation,and buying of outfits or rewards, parents might lose track of themoney they are spending (Martina, 1106). "Withglitz, anything goes," says Poteat. "Rhinestones,professional hair and makeup, spray tans, fake nails … it adds upfast. The entry fee alone varies from $50 to $500, depending on thelevel of the pageant."One should also consider the cost of hotels, traveling, photo shoots,admission fees and more. In some instances, the cost of child beautypageant could go high to a point where even the award scoped cannotreturn dividends (Hernandez, 170). In other cases, parents have takenpageant as the second job, refused to pay important bills, or haveneglected their families in an attempt of pursuing the pageantlifestyle. Some parents have even bought dresses going as high as$100 for children participating in beauty competitions. Other parentsare reporting that almost all of their money goes towards pageants,including the retirement pension, whereas other confess that spendingin the pageant is the reason they have failed to move to a biggerhome. Such spending put much pressure on the contestants to win atthe same severely hurting family (Kareen). In case some cases wherethe participants win parents normally exploit their children bytaking the larger share and therefore leading an extravagant life atthe expense of their kids.
However,some beauty pageant parents and supporters argue that they wouldnever sexualize or exploit their children intentionally and thatthese contest are nothing more than a sport of dressing-up (Haley,2195).They label individuals who criticize the activity as sex predatorssaying that anyone who decides to perceive their children in a sexualmanner must be sick. They say that their children are exploitingtheir talents just like any other kids in any other sports. In short,they see this as an opportunity for their children to lay a strongfoundation for their future (Christine,85).When confronted, devotees said, "My daughter loves it." Or"Ask her if she likes doing it!" Another argument putforward by the supporters of the pageant is that most of the parentshave been able to strike a between the social life and the pageantactivity. Some say that they encourage their children to studybetween the competitions because they see education as important asthe pageant. So it is also possible for their daughters to get jobsthat do not depend on their looks and pageant prowess in future.
Adultsshould be aware of the potential lasting impact thesesuper-competitive, and beauty driven quests can have on the psyche ofa young girl. Extreme participation in the activities that target thephysical appearance imparts the notion that superficial charm andnatural appearance are crucial to success, hence making theself-esteem and self-worth tied exclusively to the attractiveness.Children participating in the pageant are exposed to intense trainingand preparation sessions that are too much to bear at their age.These sessions are highly demanding and stressful making theparticipants neglect their social life activities such as education,enough sleeping and interacting with other children. Also, the entireprocess of pageant involves an enormous amount of money and time bythe parents which have led to the abandoning of the other members ofthe family both socially and financially. The beauty pageant contestsoverall have done more of harm than good.
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Hernandez,Leandra Hinojosa. "The Lolita Spectacle & the AberrantMother: Exploring the Production and Performance of ManufacturedFemininity in Toddlers & Tiaras." RealityTelevision: Oddities of Culture (2014):163-82.
Johnston,Haley. "Barrie Gunter: Media and the Sexualization ofChildhood." Journalof Youth and Adolescence 44.11(2015): 2193-2196.
Nussbaum,Kareen. "Children and beauty pageants." MinorCon 7(2012).
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Wolfe,Lucy. "Darling Divas or Damaged Daughters: The Dark Side ofChild Beauty Pageants and an Administrative Law Solution." Tul.L. Rev. 87(2012): 427.