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The Child Beauty pageants

My claim is that child beauty pageants can pose long and short term effects on children. Even though they are competitive, there is a clear and harsh reality of child beauty pageants and its negative impact on the young children. Potentially affecting their adult life, this experience could be more harmful than helpful. Child beauty pageants could be more of a horrifying situation than a “horror movie”. With all of the intense prepping and mothers pressuring their little girls, forcing them to resemble Barbie dolls.

Frustration and depression could lead to psychology complications, and this all can come about with the reality of failure when the child doesn’t win these competitions. One sad thing I found out is that a child’s innocence is marred by a whole lot of fakeness, eyebrows, smiles, etc, and they often grow up to think that they need to earn money through exploitation of their bodies. Not to mention eating disorders. Pedophilia can also arise from these half dressed overly dressed young girls.

Child beauty pageants can cause serious effects on a child, psychological issues Frustration, weight disorders and depression. This could lead to complications later on in adult years and have lasting effects. Child pedophilia and border line child pornography can also occur as a result of child beauty pageants. Although mother’s want their children to succeed and become all that they can be forcing them into these competitions in my opinion is overrated. Some mothers are more focused on the expensive cost associated with the pageants, rather than spending money on the child’s future and education.  

The child pageant industry makes billions of dollars a year, from the fancy adult like costumes, to tons of makeup, and sassy routines has been known to spark up a lot of controversy. With parents spending large amounts of money on fees, cost, wardrobe, make up, extra training, and entry fees, this industry is one of the fastest growing. “The girls are spray-tanned, made-up, and groomed to a glossy perfection” (Susan Anderson pg 47) “costumes and a broad array of cosmetic preparations including, among other tricks of the trade: glamour makeup, elaborate hairstyles, and "flippers" (false front teeth veneers).” (Susan Anderson pg 49) Child beauty pageants have been around since the 1920’s. When the owner of an Atlantic City hotel had an idea of what would boost tourist, he decided that the “most beautiful child” contest would do this. The Little miss America pageant started in the 1960’s, at this time it was only for teenagers ages 13-17 Children can range in age from 2 to 18years old. The different divisions of the contest are judged on talent, interview, sportswear, outfits choice, evening wear, etc. “The concern is that putting adult pressures on children, dressed in sophisticated costumes with strict rehearsal schedules and screaming crowds, (mainly mothers), wrecks their childhood and can have long term psychological effects.”

Psychological effects can be not only short term but also long term. “"We are denying some of these children their childhood, which is something you can never get back," she said.” At age 20, you can't get together with a bunch of friends and play in the dirt or play cars. You'd look and feel pretty silly." These children can develop self image issues, self esteem, and eating disorders. There could also be jealousy amongst the children, kids feeling not liked by other children. In return a child could start feeling like something is physically or mentally wrong with themselves and start disliking who they are.

A child may be taught to do their very best, but then once they fail, they may start getting the idea their best is not good enough. In a young girls mind this could lay heavily, even thought these children are very young, this could be a type of mental conditioning that they will carry on with them years ahead.

The feeling of disappointment at a young age can also become something deep rooted in them. Feelings of failure and embarrassment can also become instilled in the child. Some parents

Feel like this type of competition is empowerment for them, stating it gives the child better confidence, speaking skills, interview skills and the ability to make friends. “The thoughts of knowing that you are being judged on every little thing you do and most importantly the way you look can cross over into your everyday life”

These young girls’ minds are still developing and with all the fuss, excitement, and confusion, this could lead to misunderstood feelings. Young girls might start unconsciously second guessing their worth. Feeling like their not worthy and that they need these competitions to feel self worth.

. When you are always being judged and others are judging you, this alone can be enough harm in itself on the child. According to the book Risk and Socio cultural Theory, by Deborah Lupton, “girls involved in pageants are promoting sexuality by their make-up, their

Clothes, the routines they perform, their whole demeanor, and it is the very innocence of these children that is being sexualized”

Long term effects of child beauty pageants can cause a child to grow up to believe they have to use their body and looks to get that they want. Or always feel like they need to compete to get ahead. According to psychology corner website, some participants have been victims in murder cases, with many child beauty pageant sites acting as a pedagogical site. "Self esteem?" These children often appear to be trying to please their parents above all else. The invisible message: put other people's needs and desires before your own. Possible effects: Depression, loss of identity and anxiety” The parents who are involved in this stressful event, are not looking at the fact these children are basically being exploited and pushed sometimes into disaster. “Fears that putting adult pressures into the lives of small children can destroy what is supposed to be a wonderful time”.

Some children can grow up with weight issues, feeling like their physical appearance is everything, and that a slim physique is the only acceptable appearance. Weight issues can lead to bulimia and anxiety issues, girls trying so hard to fit the appearance the media and modeling agencies are painting as a “perfect person”. "Women are judged by their physical attributes and little girls easily pick this up,” Our society in general plays a big part in the way women appreciate and receive their bodies. “Such contests may give children the perception that being pretty is the only option for popularity and success”, says Marcia Summers, an educational psychology professor. With so many magazines and TV shows giving you images of what a “healthy body” looks like a young girl being forced into the world of pageants, which in my opinion is somewhat border line to modeling. The young girl may feel like she needs to be extremely skinny and unhealthy to be worthy.

Self esteem issues and depression can also last all the way into adulthood for these tiara babies. “The lifestyle of child beauty pageant participants has proven to be one full of stress and negative self-evaluation which can ultimately lead to a number of mental and physical disorders as the children become older” ” While it is clear that child beauty pageants can be damaging to its participants, especially ones who begin their career of pageantry at a young age, nothing is being done to solve this problem”)”Some children encounter problems with School friends or siblings after participating in contests. Jealousy or envy may cause problems, especially if the child flaunts a title,” says Summers.

The mothers of these pageants thrive on their daughters beating these competitions, and because the mothers are so disappointed when their child fails. To the child this could damage their self esteem. If a child looses too many competitions this could make the child feel depressed. The small child can start to have feelings of anxiety and a sense of lost identity, especially if the child is not the one wanting to do these competitions, and his being pushed by the persistent mother.

The mothers in these competitions want the best for their children, however I feel they are being selfish and not looking at the overall big picture. Some of these women may even be trying to live out childhood dreams they once wished they experienced, by allowing their small children to compete in these competitions. These mothers don’t mind spending a lot of money on makeup, outfits, and training if it is necessary. The child beauty mothers can be quit obsessed with perfecting their children, can be a bit overly excessive. The children are being overly pushed, enduring long hours of practice, some even traveling long distance for the different competitions. It’s even worse when you have parents who lie about their children’s age. The child becomes exploited and the stage mom becomes an opposing example of the aggressive behavior that is confronted throughout the pageants. Lower income parents want their children to move up in the social scale.

The media has a lot to do with the impact child beauty pageants have on the world. The media exposure to children needs to be limited by the parents. Some of the media can be negative yet a lot of the response from the media is positive. Media feels like this type of pageant is considered sexualization of children, child exploitation, child abuse, and pedophilia. On a positive note the media does exercise the fact the children do earn chances to win scholarships for college, along with receiving monetary prizes and special prizes.

There are no laws that regulate child education, and the child pageants are no a government ran program. There are run by local state and city people, because children are not considered working, child labor laws are not being broken. There are certain states that do not have laws that regulate pageants. ''Child abuse is defined as exploitation of a child, are these parents exploiting their child beauties? On a study done by Levey who researched child beauty pageants of the two to six age groups for the Harvard University Gazette”

Jonbenet Ramsey was murdered in 1996, she was only six years old at the time, she was found dead in the basement of her home, after being reported missing for 8 hours. When she died there was a lot of controversy surrounding this case, and the focus on child beauty pageants. The public and media started turning its spotlight to child beauty pageants and started questioning the ethics of parents who wanted their children to participate in this type of event. CBS was critized for playing the tapes of the slain contestant, calling it kiddie porn.

The case of JonBenet is still unsolved. There was a ransom note found in the home demanding $118.000 for the safe return of the little girl, with the return of her safe return. This situation clearly shows how child beauty pageants can not only be crucial but deadly. The reason behind why someone so small and precious had to die is still left unknown. However it’s the mothers in my opinion who go overboard and set the stage for these types of problems.

I was watching the television show Toddlers in Tiaras, and I saw first hand how these mothers were running around frantically forcing their daughters to perform for the judges. They were forcing them to smile for long periods at a time. The mothers were very emotional, the children were to getting overwhelmed, in my opinion there was a lot of ciaos going on. The mothers were so focused and determined the look in all of their faces showed that these competitions are their lives. There was a contestant who’s daughter was afraid to perform in front of the judges, the only way she would perform is if her mother was standing there holding the microphone for her. I think that this little girl would have lost anyways, because it showed that she was not ready for all of this.

One of the young contestants was almost four years old, after practicing and performing she would be given her “binky”, this child still had a pacifier, which to me was ridicules. When she couldn’t get to the pacifier she would have a complete break down, clearly this was signs to me that the parent needed to focus more on the child’s needs and breaking her from that pacifier instead of pushing her to compete. No child that big should still be attached to a “binky”, especially if they are being put in adult like situations. In my view of this show it was clearly these mothers and their frantic behavior and the children were just being pulled into this behavior, with of coarse no say so. You could see the stress in the little girls faces from all of the prepping and practicing.

One might argue that child beauty pageants do pose some positive and that “winning validates a parent's feelings about his or her child. Other parents allow their daughters to participate in contests to win college scholarships and other prizes. Some adults push their youngsters to win in order to gain prestige.” Some even say that these pageants can teach discipline and hard work for the child. With long hours of practicing to make perfect, this is supposed to shape the child and prepare them. “Parents with higher incomes and education beyond high school often justify pageants by explaining that competition is essential for their children to become successful.” There could also be a sense of pride and self confidence that the child develops. Patience and a sense of accomplishments can also be instilled in the child showing them that they can achieve if they work hard. Some beauty pageants do community service and raising money for their communities, this can teach a child to do humanitarian work. But in essence all of the wrong things in my opinion are being taught to a small child, whose mind is constantly growing and molded. These parents may also be teaching them all of the wrong morals.

They are not being taught that in life it is ok to loose and that you do not need your body and looks to be successful. During these competitions you never see the fathers involved, one reason might be because some fathers think it is disgusting and do not like the idea of their daughter parading around a stage half dressed. Also sometimes fathers feel left out and feel about deprived by the wives, because of their attention is on the child.

In conclusion child beauty pageants can cause serious effects on a child, psychological issues Frustration, weight disorders and depression. This could lead to complications later on in adult years and have lasting effects. Child pedophilia and border line child pornography can also occur as a result of child beauty pageants. “Child abuse is defined as exploitation of a child, are these parents exploiting their child beauties” I understand that all parents want the best for their child and that they only want to see the child succeed however pushing them to the outer limits and making them believe that their little bodies and faces is what makes the money, this is clearly wrong and the not a good message to promote. The little ladies do look cute and adorable in their many costumes and makeup, the series reality of the psychological effects is what this essay was supposed to be about. It was to enlighten and educate about all of the pros and cons associated with these types of beauty pageants.

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