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Child Beauty Pageants, Harmless Fun? Or Vomit-Inducing Child Abuse?

Miss Universe has just finished, little girls the world over watch these freakishly tall skinny giraffe women and think to themselves “I want to be like that girl!”

For a lot of little girls and more importantly, parents of little girls around the world, the road to miss universe starts with a child beauty pageant, and now us Australians can join in. Melbourne hosted our first American style child beauty pageant where little girls and boys between 0 and13 can compete to be crowned little Miss/Mister Bayside, that’s right, there are tiaras involved.

The pageant, which costs $100 to enter, will judge the girls and boys on modelling, talent, how they photograph and answers to a series of questions. Organisers of the Pageant insist it will not be “over the top” like US versions where pre-schoolers are plastered with fake tan, make-up and big hair, but a quick google search of “Little Miss Bayside” brings you to the kidspot website which has the details of the pageant anda photo showing two very young girls in swimming costumes plastered with make up and smiling like there lives depended on it. The pageant organisers may claim that the competition is merely for fun, but things quickly get out of hand.

When children are that young, their personalities are still forming, their sense of identity and self-esteem are still being built. Family psychologist Andrew Fuller said pageants could lead to competition, anxiety and embarrassment.

“This is a good recipe for how to predispose your daughter into having an eating disorder,” he said.

“The risk is that they suddenly fear that their body shape is more important than their intellect.”

Five year old girls should not have to worry about whether they are “too fat” or how they compare to the beauty of other girls.  There is enough undue, exaggerated focus on superficial beauty in this culture without children being pitted against each other in a contest of looks.

There are so many things about these pageants that just don’t sit right with me, children and toddlers with make up plastered over there faces, hair sprayed to the point it wouldn’t move in a hurricane  it’s all just a bit… bizarre and disturbing. 

These freakshows are not cheap either, according to the Pageant News Bureau the pursuit of a title and a tiara has grown into a $5 billion-a-year industry in America. An estimated 3,000 pageants draw 250,000 entrants a year, and parents spend thousands of dollars on pageants. Some want their children to gain extra poise; others hope that their children will become the next supermodel or a movie star. You can even hire yourself a pageant coach, that little “neccesity” could cost you up to $1000 a day.  Not to mention wardrobe consultants, physical fitness trainers, speech coaches, voice coaches, etiquette lessons, salon services, talent coaches, resume writing, tanning, evening gown, rehearsal attire, bathing suits, opening-number outfit, interview suit, talent costume, accessories, and many, many more things. It is entirely possible to spend upwards of $100,000 dollars to get a little girl ready for one national contest.

Of course, anybody associated with these pageants is quick to jump to their defense, apparently these competitions teach children “poise” and “confidence.”  That’s right, because nothing brings a little girl confidence like being compared unfavorably to other little girls. Lets cut the bullshit here, becuase for all their cries of “poise and confidence” these competition are called “Beauty pageants” not “Poise and confidence pageants.”

Don’t do it Australia, lets nip this thing in the bud and say no more pageants, don’t exploit your children to live out your own failed dreams. Let children be children, let them enjoy their lives without pressure and dissapointment.

Having said that, it does make for awesome reality televion.

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