|Entertainment Stereotypes Childhood Social issue
Most little girls dream of becoming princesses and living in castles, and for some girls, get to dress like one on a regular basis. Beauty pageants have been around for quite some time ranging from newborn babies to adult pageants such as Miss Universe. While they have always been criticized, more and more people in today's age are becoming involved in the industry. I believe that children should not participate in beauty pageants due to mental abuse, over-sexualization, and a negative mindset that develops later in age. So, while most people see toddlers in cute outfits, what goes on behind the scenes isn't always as precious as it seems.
I. Mental abuse
1. Body image
Generally, beauty pageants are expected to maintain a thin body for perfection purposes. As a result, media exposure leads to a significant effect of childhood beauty pageant participation, particularly on interpersonal distrust, body dissatisfaction, ineffectiveness as well as impulse dysregulation (Du Plooy et al. 73). It is so because beauty pageant involvement and viewing mass media are associated with exposing individuals towards thin female ideals. However, feminine beauty ideals exposure in mass media is directly linked to a negative impact on overall feelings of body dissatisfaction, which is mediated by the thin ideal internalization. Moreover, the effect of beauty pageant involvement on interpersonal distrust is associated with social comparison regarding the thin ideal perfection, which emphasizes on appearance (Kelly, Jessica, and Lance, 206). These comparisons indeed lead to distrust feelings among the participants because of their overall insecurity feelings, especially in moments when they believe that they are not representing the thin ideal. Therefore, if not managed simply in a healthful manner, strong effects like anger and depression brought about by the pressure of beauty pageant trying to conform to the thin body have been linked to the usage of externalized behaviors in children as well as young adolescents (Du Plooy et al. 78).
2. Eating disorders
These results indicate a significant association between childhood beauty pageant participation and increased body dissatisfaction, difficulty trusting interpersonal relationships, and greater impulsive behaviors, and indicate a trend toward increased feelings of ineffectiveness. Risk factors that are associated with eating disorders are particularly linked with participation. It is therefore clear that beauty pageants participation as a child leads to associated risk factors of eating disorders, causing continued weight and body size decrease among the participants. These eating disorders lead to a trend towards decreased weight with time. As a result, BMI values of beauty pageant contestants decrease to a value which is considered underweight. Beauty pageant children who are trained at an early age towards dieting thus valuing thinness, attractiveness, physical perfection, and athletic prowess develop eating disorders during their young womanhood (Kelly, Jessica, and Lance, 208).
1. Not being good enough
At times, it becomes too unfortunate for the beauty pageant who judge themselves based on their looks or even the performance ability, and they never become perfect enough, particularly with respect to dieting. The struggle gets tough, and thus they fail to have the thin ideal body, which is considered perfect for winning performances. As a result, they end up losing in their contests, which affects them mentally since they perceive themselves as being generally ineffective (Du Plooy et al. 80).
It even gets worse when parents fail to support and show love to such a child after a loss. Consequently, the child’s self-esteem and confidence get affected at such an early age, which can stretch towards adulthood if not well managed.
According to Maguire and Emma, any child pageant, as well as dance circuits, are normally competitive, challenging, and stressful. Reality dances or pageant shows usually place children under the enormous pressure of performing flawlessly. Following very high expectations from beauty pageant participation, tears, tantrums, and fits often ensue with a number of adults mocking the crying children. However, a child having encountered such an experience suffers from the anger along with tantrums, which can result in bad effects such as hatred and suicide in adolescent or adulthood ages.
A. Toddlers and Tiaras TV Show
1. Dolly Parton Impersonation
A 4-year-old who was dressed up to resemble Dolly Parton in a show was padded with fake busts and buttocks. The sexualization that occurs in these pageants involving impersonation is staggering. Young girls' minds get molded into holding a superficial view, particularly on beauty, at a very young age without their understanding, thus leaving a child not knowing what they want (Kelly, Jessica, and Lance, 204). The act of forcing the young contestant to dress like the singer is not fit at all for the child’s age. As a result, the children start striking suggestive poses at an early age, which is a bad presentation of themselves to society.
2. Pretty Woman
Pretty Woman was a show that involved a 3-year-old contestant dressed as the prostitute played in Julia Roberts’ film, as stated by Kelly, Jessica, and Lance (205). The show appeared like a misguided effort for bring up publicity and ratings. It was wrong to expose a 3-year-old to such an experience. Such a dress was inappropriate for the child’s maturity level. It is true that every individual within a society suffers when young children are sexualized, even though, in reality, children themselves are the ones who are hurt the worst. Girls' exposure to this kind of show can negatively impact their emotional as well as cognitive development. It is also strongly connected with depression, eating disorders, and low self-esteem.
Additionally, it affects girls’ career-wise, whereby fewer girls pursue careers in mathematics, science, engineering, and technology, causing decreased sexual health. The truth is that not only the girls who are affected by such images but also boys and adult men also learn to value women solely for their sex appeal. This can lead to an increase in incidents of sexual violence and sexual harassment and increased child pornography demand.
According to Maguire and Emma, children’s participation in beauty pageants is perceived by many as merely playing dress-up. Playing dress-up by children is seen as normal and also healthy. Children who participate in competitive contests are regarded as being beautiful, well-groomed, and successful.
2. Padded bras
Many viewers, especially their parents, perceive young girls in padded bras as beautiful in their adulthood appearances, believing that they will emerge to be fashion experts in beauty and fashion in the future.
III. Future mindset
Beauty pageant at an early age affects a child's character. Their parents make decisions of the young children within beauty pageants, and thus the children are trained to believe that it is okay, as explained by Kelly, Jessica, and Lance (210). Generally, their self-confidence gets affected, rendering a child not being able to make their own decisions but only waiting for adults to decide for them. It creates a character that is fully dependent on other people for everything.
Base everything on their looks
When young girls participate in beauty pageant competitions, they experience very low self-esteem along with depression as adults. Beauty pageants are negatively affected because they maintain that women are supposed to be thin, conventionally beautiful, and tall to hold successful lives. They become too possessed with beautifying themselves and hence neglect other areas of their lives, such as education. They major on personal attractiveness as they associate prettiness with talent and success. Therefore, focusing on one's perfection at such a given young age directly unleashes destructive thoughts of self-internalization, leading to complications with respect to body image and eating disorders (Du Plooy et al. 82).
1. Not being good enough
Lenert and Taryn hold that accentuating the beauty pageants' appearance with accouterments like breast padding, fake hair, fake eyelashes, spray tans and teeth leads to tremendous confusion in children and puts them in a position of wondering why with no these things, they are not all right. They put a child in a mentality of not feeling satisfied all the time that child is not dressed in such conformations. As a result, such children might develop hatred for themselves, which might force them to temper with their physical looks in adulthood. For instance, they might do various plastic surgeries to feel satisfied with their bodies, which might cause them more harm than good.
Young children exposed to beauty pageant competitions have high chance of suffering from low self-esteem and depression in adulthood (Du Plooy, 79).
Children growing up under the competition scrutiny and spotlights are capable of experiencing psychological hardships as added by Lenert and Taryn as well as having tremendous amounts of premature stress. Throughout their pageant years, the children are expected to dress up just like adults and practice for long hours. Yet, they also endure a lot of failures and criticism. Not only do children dress up as adults and practice for long hours, but they also have to endure criticism and failures. Consequently, exposure to competition pressure and sexuality with constant disappointments tend to impact maturing children negatively. Depression then arises as a result of body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, ineffectiveness feeling, and interpersonal distrust. Additionally, too many efforts that lead to a lack of winning cause hatred and depression since individuals see themselves as worthless in life.
Generally, participating in beauty pageants, particularly as a child, increases chances of body dissatisfaction, impulsive behaviors, eating disorders, increased ineffectiveness, feeling like an adult, and difficulty trusting when it comes to interpersonal relations. Therefore, even though there are fundamental preventive measures that can be employed in decreasing the emphasis put on acquiring the thin female ideal and offering other body ideals that involve broader children populations, young beauty pageants are wrong and should not be entertained at all. It should never be tolerated since it does more harm than good not only to the child fraternity but also to society.
Kelly, Jessica M., and Lance C. Garmon. "Perceptions of child beauty pageants and their impacts: What lies behind the tiara?." Atlantic Journal of Communication 24.4 (2016): 201-215.
Du Plooy, Caryn, Heleen Coetzee, and Esmé Van Rensburg. "Psychological effects of multimedia-induced sexualization of girls in middle childhood: a systematic literature review." Journal of Child & Adolescent Mental Health 30.2 (2018): 67-85.
Maguire, Emma. Girls, autobiography, media: Gender and self-mediation in digital economies. Springer, 2018.
Lenert, Taryn. "Pretty Baby: The Conundrum of Child Beauty Pageants." (2018).
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