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Child beauty pageants: creating ugly

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Hair extensions, a fresh layer of dye, more make-up than a grandmother needs, provocative clothing, waxing, teeth corrections and dieting. I’m not talking about getting ready for prom, a wedding or a night at the club. This is the schedule for some children, practically babies, who are involved in beauty pageants; where parents use their children like their personal art canvas to win the show.

It’s sickening to find out how far some mothers would even go to get money and fancy cars. What is more upsetting is these events are being made public through T.V shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras” and there are still little to no restrictions and no government regulations on these Child Beauty Pageants.

When is it okay to allow – no, force – your daughter to get Botox? To get injections to make her lips bigger? To have her strut around on stage and T.V in daisy duke shorts, two piece swim suits and cone-bras? Certainly not when she hasn’t even learned the alphabet, right?

Eight-year-old Britney Campbell’s mother had her injected with Botox to be rid of “wrinkles” for her beauty pageant competition. Karman’s mother (from Toddlers & Tiaras) chose an outfit that looked like less than a common belly dancers, and then had her little girl dancing around on stage inappropriately and holding her leg up in the air revealing underneath her short skirt. Note, Karman was almost in tears while getting her hair ready telling her mother “I’m just starving.”

Mothers will often defend what they are doing by saying the child wanted to do it. Even with that being the case in some circumstances, hasn’t it always been the parent’s job to decide what is best for their child? Are children meant to be trusted to know what is best for them? From what I remember of my childhood, I wanted to take my clothes off in public when it was hot. I didn’t ever want to brush my teeth, I didn’t want to eat the green veggies and I wanted nothing but cookies for dinner. My mother, fortunately, didn’t give into letting me do what I wanted because mothers often know best and she wanted what was best for me. I would hope anyone with that responsibility [motherhood] would do the same. I can’t feel that case is being defended among mothers involving their young children in such events.

Arguments have been made that it’s like playing dress-up. But what about when the stage-clothes come off and the child is put back into reality? Dress-up is a simple game of putting on grown up clothes and acting like mommy for a moment before moving on to the next fun thing. A Beauty-Pageant, even a child one, isn’t about playing and it has longer lasting effects.

There is a loss of innocence when children are more worried about their appearance than making friends and getting to play outside. Holly Ooten (who is shaving at age seven so her tan will come out better), rejected a fellow contestant’s request to be her friend. Princess syndrome is highly contagious among pageant contesters. It causes children to grow up with an unrealistic view of the world.

Pageants are not only disturbing and stripping natural beauty and innocence from children; they are physically and mentally harmful. Depression, self criticism, low self-esteem and eating disorders have also been noted as being common outcomes. These are often too hard for teens to handle; shouldn’t a parent try and protect their child from it?

The question of allowing such events to be public should also come into consideration with the government. Toddlers & Tiaras should be banned. Do the mothers not realize the audience is full of pedophiles? Then there are all the pictures of their children being displayed on the internet which is free game for anyone. Searching for pictures to use for this story I came across little girls laying sexually on couches and surf boards during their beauty-pageant photo shoot.

Granted, there are some pageants, like the one directed by Beatriz Gill, that won’t allow contestants to wear make-up or tight outfits. These and many other restrictions should be enforced by government though. These do involve children after all.

Prizes should be given to everyone (also done by some pageants) and they should be kid friendly. Cars and even high cash prizes encourage the parents to be over-the-top-competitive. They certainly aren’t for the kids (unless 3-year olds are learning to drive now). Perhaps there should even be a slightly higher age limit opposed to getting them started in pageants when they can stand up-right on their own.

Even if arguments made on the good that can come from these pageants could be justified, I wouldn’t personally put my children, or encourage others to put their children, into beauty pageants. I can’t say though that I believe all beauty pageants should be gotten rid of all together. Regardless,  if pageants do continue, there should be no hesitation into getting highly enforced restrictions.

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Belton High School's Online News-Magazine
Child beauty pageants: creating ugly