A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. – Rachel Carson The issue whether beauty pageants help or hurt a child has yet to be established. Some pageants are better than others, but most of the problems that occur are often the fault of the parents themselves. There are many pros and cons to beauty pageants, but are they actually superficial?
Beauty pageants and self-image go hand-in-hand. They can be great experiences for children. Being in front of large audiences as a child will help them be comfortable in front of crowds. Just this can carry over into a multitude of other activities, such as dance, dramas, music recitals, and future public speaking classes they’ll probably have to take in high school or college. A pageant girl usually learns to be comfortable in front of strangers. The majority of child pageants and parents work toward creating a sense of camaraderie among the kids.
The kids play together backstage and the parents often help each other out. Some contestants have actually made lifelong friends from competing in pageants. When the parents have the right attitude, the children will too. Under these circumstances, pageants can teach kids to be gracious winners and good losers. They’ll learn the aspects of rules and fair play. Sounds great, right? Gaining poise and confidence is cited most often by parents as the reason for putting their child into these contests, however, they are undoubtedly one of the worst activities a parent could choose for children to take part in.
Although I completely understand that there are many different beauty pageants and not all of them are as severe, but at the core they are all flawed and not something your children should be encouraged to take part in. Some parents don’t adequately prepare their kids for these pageants, so the girls don’t really know what they should expect. If they don’t win, they might take it personally and get their feelings hurt. The child may then end up feeling unattractive or inadequate in some other way, as compared to the child who did win. Pageants are also very time-consuming.
Some contestants have to spend hours practicing their smile, their walk, and their turns. Long practice sessions are the norm and inevitably interfere with social activities, sleep, and homework. Tanning will most likely be involved too, which is completely unnecessary. Pageants can be very expensive too and the entry fee is just the start. There’s also “necessary” training programs and accommodations. You’ll likely have to pay someone to do their hair and makeup also. Appropriate pageant dresses are also very costly. Some parents spend up to thousands of dollars on just dresses and costumes.
The irony of the situation is that these parents do prefer to spend money on designer dresses than on their child’s education. The most popular issue with child pageants is the parents. As a parent, you want to protect your child from ridiculous judgments that do not reflect on who they are as a person. They’ve become infamous and have gotten a lot of media attention for being very nasty and too competitive. Some parents think their daughter should always win. The parents might blame the judges, the director, or even the other contestants.
You’re deliberately placing your kid in front of strangers who solely judge them on superficial things. Throughout their lives, there will be countless times when they will be around judgmental or shallow people. When some children lost baby teeth that had not been replaced by pageant time, their parents fit them with false teeth. When a girl’s hair was too short to curl like Barbie’s, fake additions were fitted. Today, television is filled with reality television shows that feature pint-sized beauty queens decked out in over-priced gowns, full make-up and big hair.
Pageants aren’t the “dress up” play we knew when we were young, they are now a multi-billion dollar industry. Many experts agree that participation in activities, such as pageants, that focus on physical appearance at an early age can influence a teen and/or adult’s self-esteem, body image and self-worth. Struggles with perfection, dieting, eating disorders and body image can take their toll in adulthood. A study in 2005 showed that former childhood beauty pageant contestants had higher rates of body dissatisfaction. Pageants are competitive, demanding and stressful.
If you were to watch any pageant show, you’d see how the children are placed under enormous amounts of pressure to perform perfectly. Tears, tantrums, and fits frequently ensue with some adults mocking crying children. As a result, children performers may believe that parental and/or adult love for approval are anchored to how perfectly they look or how well they do on stage with their presence. Money, ratings, and attention fuel the pageant machine with parents and adults reaping the benefits. Adults should be aware of the potential long-term impact super-competitive, beauty-driven pursuits can have on a young girl’s psyche.
Participation in activities that spotlight physical appearance instills the idea that physical beauty and superficial charm are the keys to success, which are not true. A child’s innocence is tarnished by fake plastic smiles, false eyelashes, and a polished appearance. Beauty pageants will probably always be a topic of debate. Nonetheless, here we are talking about children and the future of our world. A child’s growing years are important as they form the foundation for the development of their own body and mind.