Pardon me while I rant incessantly: pageants

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I have resisted the urge to write about this topic for a few reasons, but I happened to be watching a little train wreck of a show on TLC called Toddler and Tiaras yesterday afternoon, and I’m sorry–but I’ve gotta get my rant on. The quality of the this video is not great, but it was the only one I found that would allow embedding. If you’ve never seen the show, this gives you a brief introduction. This disturbs me on so many levels:

I’ve never been a fan of beauty pageants. One could argue they provide scholarships, platforms for worthy causes, and that the interview and talent portions are important. But I don’t ever recall seeing any homely gals on there rallying for world peace. Let’s be honest–the prettiest girl wins. Which is fine with me–just don’t pretend it’s anything more noble than that.

Even though I don’t care for Miss America, Miss USA, et al, at least the contestants are old enough to understand what they’re involved in. Such is not the case with these child pageants. On one episode I watched yesterday, the youngest contestant was three days old. Yes, they have an infant category. I’ve watched several episodes of this series, and I have yet to personally hear a parent say that their daughter didn’t love being in these pageants. I’ve also heard mothers say if their daughters wanted to quit they would allow them to do so. But I can’t help but think many of these girls would equate not competing with disappointing their moms, and I wonder if many of the moms aren’t trying to live vicariously through their daughters. I’m trying to understand what the point of these pageants are. One of the pageants they featured on the show yesterday had a grand prize of $600. A pageant dress can cost around $1,200. Then there’s hairpieces, make-up, flippers (false teeth the girls wear over their own teeth), tanning, manicures, pedicures, dance classes, pageant coaches, etc. I’m sorry. I just don’t get it.

Here’s a quote from one of the judges: “I’m looking at the little girl–not the hair, or the fancy costumes or the make-up.”

Oh, really? Then what’s with the hair and the fancy costumes and the make-up? My 8 year old came home from a friend’s house the other day wearing eye liner and it really bothered me. I want her to enjoy being a little girl while she’s got the chance. There’s plenty of time for make-up when she’s older. Please explain to me why it’s okay to spray tan a 5 year old, put make-up and false eyelashes on her, and parade her around a stage in a bikini and an evening gown that costs more than my son’s braces?

If you want to have child beauty pageants, then fine. But enough with the false teeth, pancake make-up and spray tans. They’re not miniature adults. They’re children. And they grow up much too fast as it is.

I could say a whole lot more about how these little girls are made up to look like women, but I won’t. Because despite how some people may view them, they are still children, and I want to respect that.

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