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Why Beauty Pageants Are Bad for Children

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Autor:   •  June 3, 2013  •  Essay  •  1,891 Words (8 Pages)  •  942 Views

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Why Beauty Pageants Are Bad for Children

Children participating in beauty pageants only spend about two hours or less in actual competition and no longer than 90 seconds on stage for talent or 45 seconds for modeling routines, but for some reason people complain about children competing in beauty pageants. Beauty pageants for children have become very popular in America in the last few years. There are even television shows that are viewed by millions of people that document a day in the life of beauty pageant contestants. Pageant life for young girls is not easy. They are required to wake up early to prepare for their short time on the stage. The children often have hair and make-up artists who get them ready for the competitions. The adults make sure that the children's hair extensions are in place and curled and that their flippers, fake teeth for those who have any missing teeth, are in the perfect position before they go on stage.

Pageants can last all day and many times children are exhausted, but their parents still push them until they win the highest title awarded for the day. Often parents are the reason why their child is participating in the first place. Parents sometimes live through their children, and they want to make sure their child does their very best at all costs. Some mothers will only accept their young daughter winning the grand supreme title and taking home the cash prize. Beauty pageants for children often deliver negative connotations that involve teaching young girls to care only about looks, having parents push their child too far, and instilling a negative competitive attitude in young girls.

However, some people believe beauty pageants can teach girls valuable lessons. Jennifer Trujillo, a former beauty pageant contestant who is now an associate professor in the teacher education department at Fort Lewis College, believes beauty pageants taught her to walk with grace and project her confidence (Trujillo 1). According to Trujilo, "Beauty pageants can teach girls many valuable lessons. Learning to be articulate, to be confident, and developing thick skin are all important traits that can serve one well beyond the pageant world" (Trujillo 1). Jennifer Trujillo competed in pageants as a girl to earn money for her education. Although she believes that pageants taught her many things, she also felt that some girls did not learn these same lessons. She stated that sometimes the girls were so "cutthroat in their pursuit of crowns that they'd eat you alive just to taste the rhinestones" (Trujillo 2).

Many experts believe that beauty pageants teach young girls to care only about appearances. According to Dr. Martha Cartwright, a psychologist who has worked with professional dancers, their dissatisfaction in their body image can lead to an obsession of their appearance and even eating disorders when they become older. (Cartwright qted. in "Toddlers and Tiaras TOO MUCH TOO SOON?" 1107). Many of the girls who develop these image obsessions were in an overcritical environment where complete perfection was demanded for a child participating in beauty pageants. Most of the girls begin to believe that they have to be perfect. Their hair, their clothes, and their performances have to be flawless. However, perfection is something that cannot be achieved (Cartwirght 1105). Some parents argue that a beauty pageant is a lot like playing dress-up. However, the problem arises when parents want their child to make a career with beauty pageants, and it is very unlikely that playing dress-up can become a career for most young girls. When playing dress-up, little girls are supposed to play with the dolls rather than becoming the dolls. Many time parents dress-up their daughters with an over-the-top glitzy dress and over-exaggerated makeup and hair, which causes the girls to resemble a Barbie doll. The girls put too much pressure on themselves to be what they cannot be, and in the long run, this creates many problems for them.

Not all young girls who participate in beauty pageants while growing up deal with long-term issues later in their life, but it is very common in most previous beauty pageant participants. One of the most common problems that previous contestants have is an eating disorder. Some parents instill the idea into their children that they must be perfect (Nauret 2). Eventually, the girls will start to believe this statement on into adulthood. According to Thumper Gosney, a University of Texas Austin student, her identity changed after competing in pageants as a child. She even stated to a friend, "I wish I could go back and do pageants again, it's difficult to just be a regular girl" (Hollandsworth 9). Gosney participated in pageants until she was 14-years-old and she still deals with mental and physical issues.

Many of the child participants in beauty pageants are told that a flawless appearance is one of the most important things needed to win pageants. Children get this idea from their parents and other adults. Parents are often the main reason why girls who participate in beauty pageants grow up with self-esteem issues and body dissatisfaction. Dr. Martha Cartwright is a psychologist who travelled to pageants to observe parent-child behavior during particular pageants. She states in her article that one mother told her child, "If you come in second, you're the first loser" (Cartwright 1106). Parents of the pageant girls often put too much pressure on the young contestants. Also, according to Cartwright, some of the parents are over-critical about their child's physical flaws and were very


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