Essay on The Ugly Face of Child Beauty Pageants

623 Words Sep 18th, 2012 3 Pages
The ugly face of child beauty pageants
Leslie Cannold
May 21, 2011
OPINION
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A child beauty pageant participant.
DO AN internet search on "child beauty pageant" but be prepared. Not just to be depressed by images of overblown, cap-toothed, heavily made-up under-fives but the obvious yet rarely commented upon fact that all these kids are girls.
This issue is red hot in Australia right now, as the June date for the first American-style child pageant to be held in this country approaches. But as psychologists predict future insecurity, eating disorders and depression for participants, and religious pseudo-feminists rhapsodise about lost childhood innocence, it's critical we separate the hyperbolic wheat from the chaff. What
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They also want their sons and daughters to learn how to follow a schedule, to develop the speed necessary to perform well on standardised tests and to become more disciplined and focused. This contrasts with the wish-list pageant mums have for their daughters which includes becoming comfortable on stage, learning poise, how to present themselves and to dress appropriately.
One only has to imagine a father bemoaning his lost future due to early child rearing or a mother parading her elaborately costumed son on a stage in the name of his future poise and dress sense to see the gender-based nature of the pageant problem. In the long term, only a society that allows women to fulfil their own ambitions – rather than sublimating them by living vicariously through their kids – will see off the beauty pageant bogey for good.
Meantime, child beauty pageants should be banned, but a gender-equitable alternative supported. Something like a child talent show, which is pretty much what pageants become once the beauty/formalwear competition – and appearance-related palaver – is removed from the mix. Such a competition must be open to, and be designed to appeal to, boys and girls in the same way adolescents of both sexes are drawn to So You Think You Can Dance.
The child beauty pageant issue must not become fodder for the seemingly endless mummy wars, or be used to satisfy the

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