Pop-Culture | Posted by Danielle B on 08/10/2010
Anybody Else Freaked Out By Child Beauty Pageants?
I have to ask this question: am I the only one who’s completely freaked out by child beauty pageants? I mean, whenever I’m flipping through our 900 channels (887 of which are useless) and happen across the show Toddlers & Tiaras, I can’t help but watch it. I just sit there with this overall dumb look on my face because I am both mesmerized and horrified by these strange, nightmare-like creatures that are some people’s idea of “beauty.”
I don’t care what the message was in Miss Congeniality, beauty pageants are messed up. Having full grown women prance around in bikinis to prove their self-confidence is degrading enough, but watching little 5-year-old girls do the same seems borderline abusive. These are tiny, tiny girls. Babies. Yet their coaches – who am I kidding, their mothers – are forcing them to adhere to “mature” standards of beauty, like wearing short, revealing dresses, (ten pounds of) makeup, big, bouncy hair, fake tans, and even fake teeth.
Is it just me, or is the damage really obvious here? These mothers are basically telling their daughters that they are not good enough – that they won’t even have a shot at winning a pageant, let alone succeed in life – if they’re not tan enough, skinny enough, peppy enough, or pretty enough. Because as we all know, girls can never be good enough.
You can cut the whole “beauty pageants are good for self-esteem” crap right now, ’cause I ain’t buying it. Beauty pageants dehumanize contests to see which girl looks best in a swimsuit and/or frilly dress. And don’t even try to justify it with “well, the girls are encouraged to be themselves during the talent competitions!” Because if these little girls were truly given license to be themselves, their moms wouldn’t be in the corner screaming “smile wider, honey! Remember that smile we practiced?”
How I detest that smile.
Believe it or not, beauty pageant moms are ten times scarier than their little demo– I mean angels. Not only do many of them yell at their daughters when they make teeny-weeny mistakes, these women usually fit the same mold. Without spelling out every detail, you can guess that most of these women weren’t treated as well as they should have as children. Maybe they never felt pretty, wanted, loved. Maybe they were told they were too “this” or too “that” to enter a pageant; maybe they got picked on in school. Whatever the case, most of these moms (I’d say 99%) are living through their daughters to create the childhood, fame, and success they wanted as children.
Beauty pageants teach little girls that looks and dresses and smiles and competition and prize money are everything in life. In other words, we need to be picture perfect. From the way we walk, to the way we talk, to the way we flirtatiously smile at others – we will always be judged. If you let your guard down even a little, you can’t win in life.
What a load of bull-crap!
I would never want my daughter (please note that I’m thinking 15 years down the road here) to be a part of something like that. I can’t even fathom sitting back while watching my 5-year-old being picked apart in front of a panel of judges (and other whacked-out mothers). How could any parent stand to watch that? Internal beauty my ass, confidence my ass . . .
Now you’re probably thinking: Danielle, what if your daughter comes to you one day and says she wants to be in a beauty pageant? Simple. I’ll say: “Who wants to sit in a stinky old chair for 6 hours getting their makeup done when they could be chopping THIS in half?!” That’s when I’ll whip out a 2-by-4.
Yes, my daughter will be joining karate.
Read more at Danielle’s blog: Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist!
Read other posts about: beauty pageants, beauty standards, Feminism, feminism and beauty pageants, gender stereotypes, gender stereotypes and reality TV, Miss Congeniality, teenage feminism, Toddlers and Tiaras
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