Child beauty pageants focus on external beauty and winning. The contest demands competitors to spend great amounts of money in artificial beautification. This is a poor focus for impressionable girls and devalues them at a young age. These pageants convince girls at a young age that external beauty is more important than the quality of their character.
Since contests always have more losers than winners, this does not prove beneficial for children’s developing self-esteem when winners are deemed prettier than the rest and other contestants view themselves as not so attractive. Pageants are harmful to young girls’ self-confidence and developing self-images.
Pageants can sometimes pose a threat to the safety of contestants. JonBenét Patricia Ramsey, the child beauty pageant queen, was murdered at the age of six in 1996. Her parents were threatened in a ransom letter asking for $118,000 to the kidnappers or else suffer the death of their only daughter. Ramsey’s body was found in the basement of her home on Christmas morning. The case remains unsolved.
Pageant contestants are also subject to sexualization. Many young children are forced to wear ridiculous amounts of makeup that deprive them of innocence at a young age. Their elaborate hair-dos and skimpy competition outfits send a wrong message to children. Beauty pageants send scandalous messages to youngsters.
One may argue that pageants do not pose a threat to all young girls’ well-being, but TV shows, such as “Toddlers & Tiaras” reveal frantic, overbearing moms aggressively pushing their daughters to compete. Contestants, as a result, are very anxious as most of them are starting in pageantry at a very young age giving them no time to develop interests of their own or fully understanding what they are doing.
In Europe, the French Senate recently approved a ban on pageants for girls under the age of 16 to lessen the influence on youngsters from the materialistic focus of pageantry.
Beauty contests are meant for adult women who are mature enough to understand the situation and competition and can handle the rejection of losing. The fierce competition of pageants is meant for women whose values will not be challenged by the materialistic focus of pageantry. Children should not be permitted to be in beauty pageants because of their demoralizing, harmful effects on self- confidence and budding character.