Child Beauty Pageants
Debate Rounds (3)
Spray tans, bump its, bronzer, and false eyelashes. All of these "beauty techniques" are things that, for most people, were not introduced until later in their teenage years. One might see this look on a famous lady on the cover of a magazine. But on a six-year-old girl? How absurd. Unfortunately, girls entered in pageants nowadays grow up thinking that being pretty is the main way to succeed in life. In recent years, a spotlight has been shone onto a controversial event known as child beauty pageants. Some say they serve as a great confidence booster, but they also build false, egotistical views into little girls" minds. As a result, all child beauty pageants should be banned.
Most people are familiar with TLC"s hit television show, Toddlers and Tiaras. In this broadcast, the idea of physical appearance is glorified. Children around the age of six are waxed, bronzed, smothered with pounds of makeup, decked out in heavy jewelry, and dolled up in dresses like life-size Barbies. They then parade around a stage, often preforming a talent, like dance or baton twirling. While the judges do indeed look at this act, most of their efforts and points are given to the gal with the most glam. Private school lecturer Brenda Desker adds that "they are kids -- you can't expect an intellectual question-and-answer segment like in adult pageants. So it's very much how they walk and show off their clothes" that they are being judged by (Yap). Beauty pageants teach an early lesson that "how you look and what you wear is more important than who you are and what you do", says Dr. Karen Brooks, an associate professor of media studies at Southern Cross University. "[Beauty pageants] teach kids the wrong lessons about their bodies, appearance, and how they"re valued" (Brooks). An emphasis is put on being pretty, and that is a lot of pressure for young girls.
Setting expectations like these can be very damaging to a young girl"s self-esteem. For instance, many surveys have been put out recently showing that adolescents are growing more worried about their appearance. At the same time, their self-confidence seems to be crumbling. A survey was taken in 2009 that showed that out of 3,000 teenage girls "more than a quarter would spend their money on their looks rather than their studies, while one in five had considered plastic surgery" (Day). In addition, study from Ofsted asked 150,000 children aged 10 to 15 about their bodies. They found that "32% [were] worried about their bodies." While a poll from BBC displayed the fact that "half of girls aged 8 to 12 want to look like the women they see in the media and 6 out of 10 thought they'd be happier if they were thinner" (Day). Take this and add it to the widening cases of eating disorders seen in teenage girls. It is obvious to see young women nowadays are under a lot of pressure, and are constantly comparing themselves to images they see in magazines. Little children exposed to beauty pageants will only deepen this situation. The thought process here is overall unhealthy, and has a chance of resulting in growing cases of mental and eating disorders in teenage girls. Along with the obvious damaging effects to ones mind in beauty pageants, they can also disrupt someone"s physical health. After watching only a few clips from a Toddlers in Tiaras episode, it is hard not to notice the constant supply of sugar and junk food that are given to the contestants behind stage. Pixie Stix, also known as "Pageant Crack", and bottles of Mountain Dew are being chugged down by the second. To add to that, often times pageant moms do not let their girls rest before a show because they are worried it will ruin their hair or makeup. Take this surplus of sugar, add it to lack of sleep, and what do you get? A moody six year old with a cranky attitude. "It"s not a healthy way to act for anyone," Brooks announces . Yet, who is responsible for this behavior? Maybe it is time to take a look into the creators of these so"called "child" beauty pageants.
"Our ultimate goal is to win the ultimate titles. We"re not there for fun, because if we were there for fun I would find a free activity for my kids to do," says Ashley, a pageant mom featured on an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras. She is dead set on winning the prestigious pageant she recently entered her daughter in. Another pageant mom, Sally, talks about her daughter"s loss in the Mini Miss UK title. "My heart broke when she didn't win," Sally says. Although her daughter, Amber, was awarded "Mini Miss Manners", Sally fails to mention any praise for Amber scooping up first prize in that category. This is yet another example showing that the parents of these children put an immense amount of pressure on their kids to be pretty. Children are being raised with the mindset that their physical appearance is much more valued than what is on the inside. With so much focus and glory on fame nowadays, parents often jump at the chance to get attention in any way, whether it is buying a ridiculously expensive dress, or allowing your daughter to throw a temper tantrum right next to that film crew of Toddlers and Tiaras. They all do it for one reason " to get to get that fifteen minutes of fame. "Treating [kids] like fashion accessories or trophies is not a healthy way to act for anyone," Brooks shares. It seems like these moms see their daughters as extensions of themselves. Is it possible that parents put their children through pageants to fulfill some inner desire for fame or fantasy they have with themselves? "These pageants are not for children to entertain other children," Frank Furedi says. "They"re for the parents."
Some people believe that entering their daughters can be a healthy, fun ways to boost a girls" self-esteem. Eleven-year-old Chloe Lindsay found a positive experience in the world of beauty pageants. "I got called "fat Barbie" and I had a lot of problems with my weight," she explained. "I had days where I might not eat or come out of my room; I"d just sit in my pajamas and not want to do anything." For her, learning how to take pride in her appearance was a positive thing. However, parents need to know when and where to draw the line. Playing dress up is all fun and games, but do not let it become more than that. Girls often feel pretty when dressing up like their favorite Disney princess or movie star, but make sure they are comfortable in their own skin too. It is wrong for kids to be applauded based solely on their looks. Parents should let their children know they are beautiful, no matter makeup or clothes they wear. Beauty should be judged by character, not appearance, and that is something every little girl should be taught.
However not all girls, especially pageant girls, are told those wise words. Parents and kids go into the pageants thinking short-term, but little do they know what they are doing and learning will last a lifetime. Say that a girl is entered in a beauty pageant. This pageant will last several hours. She wins a crown or teddy bear; that might last a few years. But what else does she take with her? She takes home the lessons and life values that were taught to her " on and off stage. What she carries with her is the egocentric ideas that will last a lifetime. Chances are she will live the rest of her life thinking she is always in a silent competition with her peers over beauty, and that can be stressful. Within time, the award-winning titles will fade, and the ever-so-glamorous trophies will eventually get tossed aside. What she wins at the pageant show is temporary. But what will not perish is the everlasting impression that is left on that little girl. People only have about twelve years as a child, the rest of their life is spent as an adult, doing adult things and not having the satisfaction of being a kid. Why waste one second pretending to be older than you actually are? Child beauty pageants force kids to grow up too quickly and teach them wrong morals and views of life. Consequently, it is evident to say that all child beauty pageants should be banned.
Brooks, Karen. "Pageant Parents Set Ugly Example." Courier-Mail (Brisbane). 30 Mar. 2011: 24. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
"Could Child Beauty Pageants Be Banned in the USA?." Asbury Park Press. 22 Sep. 2013: n.p. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
Day, Elizabeth. "Living Dolls." The Observer. 11 Jul. 2010: 34. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
Yap, Eve. "Dare to Strut." Straits Times (Singapore). 21 Apr. 2013: n.p. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
The main point that was trying to be proved by the opposing side is that beauty pageants are causing harm to our youth. Now we do recognize that beauty pageants can cause some harm to our youth population; however, we also have to further recognize that these beauty pageants are not forced upon all participants. We cannot speak for all pageant competitors in saying that pageants are bad. This is also a very stereotypical argument. Not all girls feel brought down by pageants. The only things that can hurt you are the things that you let hurt you. We can see that pageants and the government need to work together to better protect youth; however, banning pageants completely is not the right solution.
Now, let's get into some constructive.
I will be discussing one main point today.
1.Stereotypes of Pageants are Blinding Society of the True Benefits
When the majority of people think of pageants, they think of fake hair, makeup, glitz, insane "Pageant Parents," and very unhappy children. However, this is a huge stereotype of pageants. This stereotype is what is causing people to think that pageants cause harm, when in reality, they actually formulate benefits for many competitors. However, the stereotypes and stipulations that everyone has put up around pageants blinds people from seeing the benefits that pageants bring.
For example, Leanna Larson is a 7 year old girl from Bonner Springs, who is very devoted to pageant competitions. When we go back to these stereotypes of pageant competitors, we think of girls who are obsessed with beauty and perfection, and rely simply on their looks for success in life. However, this is clearly not the case with Leanna. She states that "It is in my blood to protect and serve. One day, I will become a police officer. In the future if you are stopped for speeding, it might be me writing you that $100 ticket." She continues to explain that, " I want to protect my community and stop people from stealing stuff."
Leanna loves competing in beauty pageants; however, she is still a normal, young girl with a well-functioning head on her shoulders, regardless of what stereotypes may lead you to believe. Leanna's family says that she only goes into "diva" mode during times when she is competing. At home, she still enjoys playing on her grandparents" farm. Leanna plays multiple sports, take parts in Girl Scout activities, and has an amazing talent for softball, an activity which she puts just as much effort into as her pageants.
"She"s not you"re normal princess; she"s over there trucking through the mud, feeding the cows, hanging on the fence," Angie Larson, Leanna's mother said. "But when it"s time for her to be on the stage, she"s ready."
Furthermore, not all competitors leave pageants feeling broken and insufficient. In fact, competitions actually improve the mind-set and performance of competitors. Angie remarks, "Her confidence level has increased a lot. She is able to stand on stage in front of hundreds of people " present herself as a lady, not have stage fright. She can talk in front of these people and not have any problems at all." Angie continues to share that, "A lot of people get the misconception that all pageants are Honey Boo Boo, Toddlers and Tiaras, and they"re not. If you were to go to National American Miss during state, it"s nothing like Honey Boo Boo. You don"t dance, you don"t ducky face, little girls don"t wear makeup "" if you wear makeup, you get points taken away. If you wear fake hair, you get points taken away."
Pageants for youth today not focused solely on looks. Important qualities such as community-service and involvement, stewardship, volunteering, education, values and morals are all viewed and taken highly into consideration. This encourages our youth to become better citizens. Pageants also give our youth the chance to put effort into something they enjoy and to gain skills such as confidence, poise, acceptance, graciousness and modesty, determination, dedication and drive which will help them later in life.
Camille Mariano, a junior applied health major remarks that, "it builds up a culture of girls looking up to women who have the confidence to be in these pageants, the confidence to go after what they really want and just being able to put themselves out there."
Pageants help women become more confident, and these confident women become role models to our young girls. However, there is one more aspect of pageants that must be discussed. It is commonly thought that all children are forced into pageants. However, on an application sheet to enter a beauty pageant, the applicant must sign saying that they are willingly entering the competition and will willingly follow all of the rules of the competition. There is a choice. When this requirement is infringed, it is the responsibility of the organizers of the pageant to step in and take more precautions in making sure that all competitors want to be there and are not being forced into the competition by peer-pressure, parents, or another deciding factor. If stricter laws need to be set by the government regarding beauty pageants and the well-being of youth and competitors, it is the government's responsibility to put them into place. However, it is not the government's job to completely abolish beauty pageants.
Clearly, I have proved that stereotypes are blinding us as a society. The benefits of beauty pageants exist, and the government has no right to ban something the provides so many useful benefits, especially when it is a choice to enter beauty pageants. Therefore, I strongly believe that beauty pageants should not be banned. Thank you.
"BasehorInfo.com." Bonner Springs Girl Devoted to Pageant Competition. Web. 13 Dec. 2014. .
"The Clause." The Clause. Web. 13 Dec. 2014. .
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