“Children teeth. Meanwhile, some parents still say that child

“Children are the
fastest growing segment of the beauty pageant market with annual children’s
competitions attracting an estimated three million children, mostly girls, from
the ages of six months to 16 years who compete for crowns and cash” (Schultz
& Murphy). A typical beauty pageant will consist in a round of evening wear
section where children model down a runway and a talent round, in which
contestants will display a gift such as singing, dancing, etc. These pageants
provide, to the girls, a chance to bring out the best in them and at the same
time build self confidence. Moreover, child beauty pageants have changed over
the years with children going further and further to look more attractive, taking
away the innocence, and depriving the girls to enjoy being young and to be free
at a young age. There are far more harmful elements of a pageant than helpful,
which leads to fake appearances and to sexualization of young girls.

            As a child it has become custom to explore
in our mom’s world, using their high heels and modeling with them, then putting
some makeup and dressing up with their clothes. However, in the beauty pageants
industry it is different because the child does not have the freedom to do it
themselves. Playing with mommy’s makeup and dressing up is one thing. But transforming
your five year old daughter to resemble a 20 year old woman is different. Dress
up is a sign of a child identifying with or mimicking the mother which is
significantly dissimilar from the concept of child beauty pageants. These days,
it is not unusual to see children with highlighted or bleached hair. Some young
contestants also wear false eyelashes, spray tan or “flippers,” which
are false teeth used to cap missing front teeth. Meanwhile, some parents still
say that child beauty pageants are like playing dress up, but playing dress up
on the pageant stage costs parents financially. According to Wiehe, “dress up generally
is an activity engaged in by a young girl alone or with a group of playmates at
home rather than on a stage in front of an audience.” Furthermore, “some
experts argue that it can be harmful to girls, teaching them that their
self-worth is measured by how pretty they are” (Schultz & Murphy). They
should be out being creative and imaginative and when they focus on being sexy a
woman it takes away their learning opportunities. It takes away the beauty of
childhood.

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            One of the main concerns is that
pageants push the girls into the realm of sexuality, long before their time, “the
sexualization of girls is happening at a younger and younger age as children,
even toddlers, are bombarded with a plethora of adult influences and
perceptions, studies say” (Morgan). “Beauty pageants are exploitative,
pressuring children to adopt sexualized adult mannerism that they do not fully
understand and enforcing the message that physical appearance is all important”
(Day). Sexualization occurs through little girls wearing adult women’s
clothing, following this the use of makeup,
which often is applied by makeup consultants, spray tanning the body, the dying
of hair and the use of hair extensions, and assuming provocative postures more
appropriate for adult models are also examples of sexualization in this
industry. All this is now a commonplace in the pageant world yet many in the
pageant industry insist it is a harmless pastime which instils young girls with
confidence and self-esteem.

In
addition, dressing up like adults, pageant participants face grown up pressures
as well, which demonstrate how serious contenders practice for long hours and
endure criticism and failure (Lieberman). The issue lies in pageants being a
contest that is based on looks. Participants are judged on their physical
attractiveness, their performance on stage and demonstrated confidence. In
short, contestants are required to look beautiful and perform flawlessly. “Many
experts agree that participation in activities that focus on physical
appearance at an early age can influence teen and/or adult self-esteem, body
image and self-worth” (Giroux). Child beauty pageants, while
boosting children confidence, can also give rise to children who are
narcissistic. All children need love and affection, but these participants
receive an overwhelming amount of attention. They are constantly receiving it, whether
it be compliments on looks from parents, attention from audiences or daily
attention from coaches.

            Child
beauty pageants could promote self confidence in little girls. But there are
far more harmful things than helpful, which leads to fake appearances and to
sexualize young girls. These beauty contests deprive the little girls from being
little because to fulfill the pageants requirements they must transform the
young girl to resemble a woman, in order to win. Importantly taking away their
innocence every time they must assume provocative postures to be more attention
grabbing for the audience and judges. Children are too young to know what they
are signing up for. They are being set up for a certain way of life which essentially
takes away a normal and free childhood.