In 2013, France banned child beauty pageants. In America though, the inhumane practice still runs.

Beauty pageants are everywhere, even on American television with shows like Toddles and Tiaras Approximately 250,000 girls participate in beauty pageants every year. That is 250,000 girls that have to dress in impress. 250,000 girls that have to stuff themselves clothes and makeup that no child should. 250,000 girls that have expose and basically sell their bodies to win money. At a young and impressionable age, these girls are being told that their physical appearance is all that matters. They are being told what to look like to get this attention they should not be looking for. How much they should weigh, how little clothing they should wear and how to act to get this attention they should not be seeking. These pageants do more than just win little girls money, they psychologically damage them. 

What happens when the lights dim and all that is left is a girl? Competitions based on physical appearance have been shown to have psychological effects. Self-esteem, body image and self-worth are most affected. Issues with self-identity after a child retires from the pageant scene are not uncommon.  Struggles with perfection, dieting, eating disorders and body image can appear in adulthood. They are constantly striving for a perfection that is not real. To please everyone around them. These young girls are given an unattainable goal for the rest of their lives. It does not stop when they exit stage left. 

Young women and girls are not the only ones involved in these “beauty” showdowns. Most girls are accompanied by their mothers, or “pageant moms”. Most of the time, it is the mother who pushes their daughter to participate in such competitions. Pageant moms have gained popularity thought Toddlers and Tiaras. On the show, viewers can witness mothers pushing their daughters to extremes. Even supplying questionable supplements to enhance their daughters’ performance. In these extreme cases, the mothers are not worried about their daughter’s well-being, or what their daughters want. They push them into contests and force them to participate in cruel acts. They will put them on strict diets, dress them in constricting and revealing clothing and tell them to live up to standards they believe exist. This idea of perfection is not just set by the pageant, but by the mother. 

Girls are entered in pageants to make money. But most of the time, the contestants are spending more money than they will win to enter the contest. Makeup, dress, shoes, fake tans, entry fees, it all adds up. But once these girls start winning, them and their mothers are hooked. A crown and spotlight can be addicting. After winning enough small pageants, there is opportunity to enter bigger contests, with bigger prizes. That is where the money comes in, but if a child keeps failing so does the money and self-esteem. Winning gives the girls a self-esteem boost, until the next competition. Until they worry again about how much weight they need to lose or how they should do their hair. A loss can hit the confidence hard. A girl can question what is wrong with her? Why was she not chosen?

And in a society where a girl is already worried about impressing everyone, why add to that distress?

Published by Chelsea Hinkofer