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Robbed of childhood and innocence

Posted by DreamSharer on February 23, 2012

Beauty pageants started in 1921 when the owner of an Atlantic City hotel struck upon the idea to help boost tourism in his hotel. However, the Little Miss America pageant began in the 1960s at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. The murder of Jon Benet Ramsey in late 1996 turned the public spotlight onto child beauty pageants. Critics began to question the ethics of parents who would present their child in such a way. Notably, Dan Rather, criticized CBS for airing Ramsey’s tapes, calling them “kiddie porn.”

Child beauty contests became increasingly common and increasingly controversial recently. With entrants ranging from 3 to 18, I would say the practice is a form of child abuse and child sexualization.

We can see that through making or allowing their daughters to participate in these pageants, the parents’ ambitions for their children went overboard the child’s welfare to the point where the child’s mental well-being is compromised.

This isn’t like any other sport or activity people! There is only one winner in children’s beauty pageants and the rest of the contestants lose. Most sports allow for a broader range and share of victory and allows more contestants to feel the sense of accomplishment that can come with that. How is that good for any child’s self-esteem given the high competition because all children are beautiful inside and outside!

We love children because of their innocence and childish mentality which we rob them of as we make them participate in such activities!

This is an arena where very young children are primped like mini-adults and pitted against each other in a bid to decide who’s the prettiest and this is certainly not good for their confidence or self-esteem and believing that is like dwelling in a fool’s paradise.

What does participating in a child’s beauty pageant tell the little girls? Being a little Barbie doll says your body has to be a certain way and your hair has to be styled and dyed or even bleached a certain way. In girls, this unleashes a whole insensitive complex of destructive self-experiences that lead to eating disorders and all kinds of body distortions in terms of body image.

You are telling them that they are not created beautiful and that is the only thing that matters so they have to fake to be someone else in order to be important aka beautiful in this world. You are telling them that they have no value unless they are beautiful and that they have to pay any price just to attain beauty! Does that sound truthful to you? If it does then I am sorry to say, you have a big psychological problem and you need to be treated!

Competing in these events, very young children are taught very early in their life that their only value comes from their appearance and the way they look. This in turn leads to emotional damage, eating disorders and a distorted sense of self worth and self esteem.

When you win even few of those beauty contests at such a young age, you might start thinking you really are better than everyone else your age. This is yet one of the major consequences.

In a childhood era that’s full of opportunities for sports, activities, soccer games and spelling bees, or even creative or musical talents, why can’t we just put away the self-tanner and baby high heels? Why can’t we just let our kids be the way they are meant to be?

These kids mostly come from the same parents who bitch and constantly complain about pedophiles and perverted men watching their kids. I agree totally that these men are disgusting creatures and every parent has a right to not want them near their children. What I still don’t understand is, why these parents aggressively boycott pedophiles and other sick people all while at the same time doing this to their little girls.  Predators are fully responsible for their own actions; these mothers aren’t telling them what to do. But at the same time, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if the parent would reevaluate their actions when they start wondering why their child is being stared at by an adult.

A typical beauty pageant consists of several rounds, often including an “evening wear” section, where children parade down a catwalk swathed in taffeta and Swarovski crystals, and a talent round, in which contestants will display a particular gift, such as singing, dancing or baton-twirling. For a successful child beauty queen the rewards can be lucrative but it takes a lot of work. Ok the talent show is very encouraging and a good idea too but what we don’t realize is that so many of those pageant-obsessed mothers start making it a must that their daughters have to be talented in something demonstrated in public when it genuinely is not the case a lot of times. Making such demands change who the child really is and you don’t even give the child a chance to grow into who she is. Do these mothers even know the true identity of their daughters? It sure is not who they created out of them!

Such beauty pageants are exploitative, pressurizing children to adopt semi-sexualized adult mannerisms that they do not fully understand and enforcing the message that physical appearance is all that is important.

Entering a pageant is time-consuming and a costly process, involving high entrance fees. On top of that, parents can expect to pay several hundred of dollars for suitably eye-catching outfits – from tailor-made mini-ballgowns laced with diamanté to a flamenco-style red-and-white polka-dot dress.

In many ways, the rise in child beauty pageants is a pronounced cultural trend to treat young children as mini adults. The process is a representation of the “inappropriate sexualization” of children.  Recent surveys have shown that young people are becoming progressively more concerned with their appearance, at the same time as their body image appears to be plummeting.

In 2009, a poll of 3,000 teenage girls showed that more than a quarter would spend their money on their looks rather than their studies, while one in five had considered plastic surgery. Can you possibly imagine where the world is right now? One in 5 young and little girls considered plastic surgery and you still think these pageants are justified?

Beauty Pageants are really commercialization and sexualization of childhood. These young girls are precious and yet we don’t treat them that way at all. What they begin to do is look older, they acquire veneers, they look assertive, they look confident, but how deep does that really go if it’s built on such a fake and artificial notion? Aesthetic, external attributes have a place, but they should not be the sole means by which a child should measure themselves.

I do believe that such contests encourage pedophilia.  We do know that predators or pedophiles continually tend to justify their interest in children by saying children are sexual beings. That children are now given a channel to become little Lolitas, to be portrayed as older, to almost become mini adults and sadly these kind of activities such as the children beauty pageants are all trends that give legitimacy to that kind of thinking.

In America, the industry has been overshadowed for years by the murder of six-year-old child beauty queen Jon Benet Ramsey, who was found sexually abused and garrotted in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder, Colorado, on Boxing Day 1996. The case is still unsolved.

Are you terrified by the consequences yet?

We can’t help but notice the beauty pageant stereotype of pushy parents and spoiled, doll-like children. But we also can’t help but notice that these glassy-eyed stares are still children on the inside concealed by the look that is required of them to become ‘queens’. In many cases, a contestant’s personality seems to be all pretend when she is under the spotlight.

In many of the UK’s children beauty pageants, contestants are required to dress up in flamboyant feathered and bejeweled costumes as if they are performers in the carnival. In most competitions though, children wear heavy make-up, false eyelashes and have an all-over spray-tan. Does that sound like childhood to you?

Earnest mothers of pageant winners admit their daughters end up dressing inappropriately for their age after winning the pageant. Make up starts to creep into their young everyday life.

These pageants are not for children to entertain other children. What one sees here is adult fantasies fueling this thing. It’s for adults. It’s certainly for the parents not their children. A parent can be proud of his/ her daughter without having to win a beauty pageant!

Given that we live in a world that increasingly values physical appearance, is there anything so very wrong in teaching one’s children how to make the best of themselves, how to get ahead in life rather than how to look prettier than natural beauty?

In a world that extends after Jon Benet Ramsey, the very concept of incredibly young girls strutting around a stage in swimsuits and gowns with synthetic hair extensions and fake eyelashes in the bid to be crowned the next “Miss” something is disgustingly depressing.

“As a treatment professional of sex offenders as well as victims of sexual abuse, I would like the parents of these little girls to assume responsibility for their choices. They are sexualizing their young children. Do not be surprised if your child is preyed upon as a result of this high degree of visibility,” said Dr. Nancy Irwin, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist. “Men can pose as agents/managers and track you/your girl down through the show. Further, know that they will be pleasuring themselves while looking at your daughter’s YouTube clip.”

These parents are selfish…spoiling their children, and training them that their value is based on their beauty alone.

Toddler beauty pageants set a superficial expectation about what makes someone beautiful. It clearly tells the girls that beauty is primarily about your pose, your smile, your hair, and the clothes you wear. Self-worth should not come from outer beauty. Toddlers are not old enough to make an informed decision as to whether they should compete or not. Nor are they able to separate the competition from reality, which can make participation even more damaging to their self-esteem.

None of this is natural and none of this is innocent which childhood should be all about.

I get terrified by the simple mere idea of child beauty contests, and even more so the motives behind why any parent would want their precious young one to transform into a pageant “princess”.

I question these parents’ ability to parent any child. It is one thing if your child wants to express themselves through dance or acting, but there are other ways to do it.

I will always continue to believe that allowing six-year-olds to dress up in evening gowns and parade at beauty pageants is sending the wrong message.

Such contests may give children the perception that being pretty is the only option for popularity and success in life which is certainly not the case.

Most of the times, women are judged by their physical attributes and little girls easily pick this up.

It also sets them up for some problems, including bulimia, anorexia and depression, if they cannot adjust as teens. Some babies grow up to be pretty adults and others grow up to be average looking. We all are different.

Winning validates and confirms a parent’s feelings about his or her daughter. Other parents allow their daughters to participate in contests in order to win college scholarships and other prizes.

Putting adult pressures into the lives of small children destroy what is supposed to be a wonderful time.

We are denying these children their childhood, which is something you can never get back. When you are 20, you can’t get together with friends and play in the dirt or play cars or build castles in the sand. You’d look and feel pretty silly if you do that.

Some children encounter problems with school friends or siblings after participating in contests. Jealousy or envy cause problems, especially if the child wins the title.

Other problems may develop as a result of adults who prey on young children.

Parents need to look at why they want their children to be in a contest. Is it because of the need to stroke an ego or because they really want what is best for their child?

Robbing your child of their innocence and childhood is by no means the best for a child. You take everything away from them by making them participate in these contests. You take away from them looking like children and you make them end up looking fake and thrice their age. If you love your child you would never do that to her. If you love your daughter you would never take away her right to be a normal natural child who likes to play in the mud and have a simple styled hair wearing comfortable clothes and playing with her favorite toys. We create them instead of allowing them to just be. Who would do such a cruel thing to their kids? Put their daughters in painful corsets to look like hour-glass figures and make them sleep in those painful things or walk around in painful high heel shoes that even us women dread to wear, and make a poor child go on a strict calorie diet just to make it as a beauty queen? Does that sound like fun to you? Does it sound like loving your child? I can’t believe any mother or father would allow such cruel and painful process for their little ones.

Wake up people, there is really little time that you as a person live stress-free, care-free and pain-free. That time is supposed to be when you are a child. Please don’t take that away from your kids! Please don’t rob them of their childhood and innocence! Please  just allow them to be happy children!

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