Child Beauty Pageant: Sensualization Of Childhood
A child beauty pageant is a beauty contest where contestants are usually girls under 16 years of age that primarily focus on the physical beauty of its contestants.
The child contestants often wear makeup, false eyelashes, lipstick, elaborate hairstyles and sometimes provocative outfits.
Contestants compete for crown and cash and are judged on the way they look and how they act on stage, similar to the judgment criteria in adult beauty pageants.
Many parents attribute confidence-building as one of the reasons they enter their children in beauty pageants, but critics argue that the negative effect of child beauty pageants especially the sexualization of young children outweigh the positive intentions and suggest it should be banned on the grounds that they support the idea that women should be valued mainly for their physical appearance.
The overall trend of these beauty pageants is on portraying sexy rather than cute. They will parade them like ‘sexy’ super-models. So, we end up seeing little girls dressed in skimpy clothing that hardly covers their underdeveloped body with heels which is, terrible for their tiny growing feet. A child’s bones are still forming and growing, which makes it dangerous for a child to wear high heels on a normal basis. High heels are usually worn by women who are fully grown. They may even showcase provocative routines during the talent show. It leads them to believe beauty is the key to life.
Child beauty pageants teach young girls that they are all pretty princesses. Princess syndrome is when a young girl focuses her life on things that are pretty and nice; it is as if they live in a fairy tale. They tend to have unrealistic expectations. They think they need to be perfect by being thin and always looking beautiful. These young girls may grow up to have high expectations and will be extremely disappointed when they realize reality is far from a fairy tale.
Imagine being a small child wanting to play with barbies or dolls, but instead, you’re stuck in a room with people putting makeup on you and changing how you look to try to make you be the best.
Adults need to be aware of the potential long-term impact super-competitive, beauty-driven pursuits can have on a young girl. Psychology points out that any activity focusing on what a child looks like can have a long-lasting effect on body image once they get to their teens. Intense participation in activities that spotlight physical appearance instills the idea that physical beauty and superficial charm are the keys to success, thus making self-worth and self-esteem inextricably tied to attractiveness.
Participation in pageants and dance competitions can be a wonderful experience for a child and may lead to a rewarding career but the key is to provide performing children with a balance of activities that involve more than fancy costumes, make-up and the world of make-believe.
By Tina Walson