Child Beauty Pageants : A Transparent Aspect Of The Representation Of Children

773 Words Feb 28th, 2016 4 Pages
The Adultification of Little Bodies
Looking at Paisley Dickey and her fellow rivals on “Toddlers and Tiaras”, there is a glaringly transparent aspect of the representation of children in beauty pageants; they are all, for the most part, of Anglo-Saxon or European descent: “light skin, straight long hair, thin lips and a narrow nose” (Price 7). Child beauty pageantry is an essentially all-white, multi-billion-dollar industry. Pageant careers come with a hefty cost, with one mother spending $70,000 a year on weekly spray tanning sessions, catwalk coaching, and gaudy dresses. Hence, participation in child beauty pageants are racialized to white, middle-class little girls. Through the intersectional approach, one can see that race and class also play role in establishing the boundaries of the innocence discourse. The representation of white little bodies is largely derived from historical depictions of white, middle-class Victorian women as “chaste” and “pure.” Despite being adultified by wearing seductive outfits, Paisley herself was still perceived to be incapable of being corrupted by sexualized behaviors; rather, it was her mother who suffered the most backlash. Nonetheless, the adultification of young white girl bodies does not expand to include young black girl bodies. Akin to how black boys are portrayed as “criminals in the making”, black girls are instead portrayed as highly sexualized “future mothers” (Ferguson 22). They do not “fit” the image of innocence and are…

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