The Harm Child Beauty Pageants Cause to Children

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Do you see those little pretty dolls? The ones who seem all life-like and are being prettied up. Elaborate and mature make-up, hair and tight clothing on these dolls is a way to identify them. They are actually children with feelings and emotions however they are the mannequins on display for the whole world to judge. They are also the ones who are being played by their parents. It may seem all fine and dandy at first, but when you dive deeper, it becomes apparent that child beauty pageants are hiding behind a facade to mask the ugly truth.

Child beauty pageants promotes hypersexualization of kids because it encourages kids to expose their bodies, pedophilia is constantly increasing as a result and it infringes a child’s independent voluntary actions. First and foremost, the reason why child beauty pageants promote hyper-sexualization towards kids because they encourage kids to expose their bodies in a negative ways that can lead to unwanted circumstances. Child beauty pageants encourage kids to dress up inappropriately in order to show off their bodies to gain public attention by being the most beautiful child among the other participants. According to a researcher, Martina M. Cartwright, she is of the opinion that nowadays, there are a lot of reality shows that give permission for kids to overly dress up and do anything they should not do in order to make them appeal as much as they can as a recent reality dance program showed a child wearing inappropriate clothing while performing a provocative dance while her mother shows full support by helping her kids to look stunning in a negative way.

As a child, we did not know the circumstances that we had to face because of our attitude or even behavior. Parents should monitor what their kids are doing and know what is good or bad for their children. They have to hinder their kids from exposing their body but it turns out vice versa when it comes to Child beauty pageants participants. Based on the article from ‘Children and child beauty pageants’ by Nussabum, he indicate that The participants used various ways to become the best participants by spending too much money for clothing, make up, hair and some other cases used make-up artist just to enter this beauty pageants. In any pageant, its a natural feeling if we want to win the competition.

Same goes to beauty pageants. All the beauty contestants make an effort to win the title “princess” while putting themselves on a stage in sportswear and evening gowns just to attract attention (Lieberman, 2010). All the kids want to look good in order to be different from others even if they have to constantly expose their bodies and be fashionable with inappropriate clothing. Cartwright says that, “The recent issue of French Vogue has sparked outrage for its photos of a ten-year old model lying in a sea animal print wearing a chest revealing gold dress, stilettos and heavy make up. Cries of ‘how young is too young’ to model, be ‘sexy’ etc.” It shows how unimportant morals can be when it comes to beauty pageants. They try so many things just to be the winner of that certain competition.

The contestants use appearance-altering techniques to mask their little girl’s flaw and imperfection. After all, make up, hairstyles and provocative outfits used for the pre-sexual contestants (Lieberman, 2010). Thus, the exposure of the children in inappropriate clothing is proof that these pageants promote the hyper-sexualization of children. Secondly, the hyper-sexualization of kids through child beauty pageants has indirectly triggered the number of paedophilia. The beauty pageants prompted paedophiliac behaviours in a way that it exposes chances for them to acquire adult-looking photos and materials which many pageants’ supervisors publicise, especially to those with a sick interest in them. This is shown in evidence by Toddlers & Tiaras, an American child beauty contest which receives high support from men with a 64% percentage compared to the 36% of women which shows paedophilic disorder (‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ and sexualizing 3-year-olds, 2014).

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This shows that the behaviour is more prevalent in men rather than women. However, some paedophilic tendencies restricts their desires to an extent – only fantasies. In addition, more statistics had shown that more men were inclined to attempt a sexual contact because it does not fully satisfy their desires. This is verified by a study which shows that 3. 8% of men acted out a paedophilic preference on the interactive level – 14 men bring out their impulses toward children. Taking these 14 cases into account, the sexual preference can be inferred to be approximately 3. 8% in the worst case (calculated based on the selected sample of 373 men) (Tenbergen, Wittfoth, Frieling, Ponseti, Walter, M., Walter, H., … & Kruger, 2015).

Therefore, this contest triggers paedophiliac behaviours because it generates a neurodevelopmental disorder or alterations of structure and function in frontal, temporal, and limbic brain areas. During this event, it creates alarm in the structural combination of ‘paedophilic’ brains which triggers a specific phenotype of a sexual preference thus the masculinization of male brain would strongly distress paedophilia development along the changes in sex dimorphic brain structures (Tenbergen, Wittfoth, Frieling, Ponseti, Walter, M., Walter, H., … & Kruger, 2015). Hence, the number of pedophiles increasing correlates directly with the hyper-sexualization of children by child beauty pageants. Last but not least, child beauty pageants infringes a child’s independent voluntary actions.

The fact stands that opportunistic parents abuse their power to override their children’s choices. A child, as a minor cannot give legal consent to participate in beauty pageants, making it the parents’ or guardians’ responsibility to give the legal consent needed for entering these competitions. The consent is needed for to ensure that the parents know exactly what activities and acts they are subjecting their children to do. The children are guaranteed not to be able to give legal consent themselves to enter the pageants because the maximum age for entering these beauty pageants 16 years old. Moreover, the legal age of majority across the states is not always 18 years old (Washington University, 2012). Thus this proves that there is a two-year gap between the age when a child may enter these pageants and when they can actually give their own legal consent, at the age of 18. Parents, mostly mothers who were former beauty pageants contestants tend to have a want to relive their pageant days by living vicariously through their daughters.

According to Cartwright (2012, as cited in Nauert, 2012), ‘achievement by proxy distortion, ’ is when parents fail to see the difference between their child’s needs and their own. The parents tend to ignore the wishes and needs of the child. A parent has authority over their child and when they mistake that authority for absolute dominance on the child’s feelings, thoughts and actions, it creates an unhealthy environment for the child to be brought up in. The child, as a result will most definitely try to live up to their parents’ expectations. Why? This is because the child only receives and follows the orders of their parents and they do not know any better. Thus, the participation of children in beauty pageants at the command of their parents is an infringement of their right over their own person. In conclusion, this competition is where kids parade their bodies without knowing the consequences of it which further stimulates the minds of perverted adults and the lack of control children have over their bodies makes them helpless towards their manipulations of those who have custody or guardianship over them promotes the hyper-sexualization of these children involved. Despite this, child beauty pageants have also shown to be a confidence-booster to participants in later years however it does not overshadow the fact that child beauty pageants encourages the hyper-sexualization of these very participants themselves.

They harm everything that these children have, including their innocence by exposing them to a world that no child should ever have to experience so early in life. As France has done, every country should ban these competitions where little ones are to compete with each other for adults to determine their worth based on their looks -which has also been altered by make-up. This will help every child to finally receive the childhood that they deserve and live happily without a care as kids should.

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