Children beauty contests is a common industry operating at about $5billion. The industry gained its popularity in 1995 following the death of one of the toddler contesters. In the USA, it is a huge industry attracting many children especially girls aged between six and sixteen years. Different parties have provided various perspectives regarding the matter. While some suggest that it is a good way of earn self-esteem, some, especially the psychologists differ pinpointing that if affects normal child development and it can lead to narcissism. The financial implication of the beauty shows can be expensive on the parents but can also give promising false hopes for the parents to invest. For the toddlers that emerge as victors, the financial pay off, fame and social bonding can be great benefits.
Allowing children to engage in toddler pageants can have serious emotional and developmental challenges for children. The girls at times dress too old for their age with revealing low cut clothes which would be allowable for girls over sixteen years in the typical setting. Additionally, some girls may be required to adopt some dancing styles that would be termed as sexy.’ As such, the children will get unnecessary early exposure to sexuality denying them a chance to gradually develop to sexual awakening (Michelle, pp1). Moreover, toddler pageants place children on the limelight, and it can jeopardize their safety, and they can easily be victims of abuse as highlighted by Kelly and Garmon, (pp.203). The children also may lack ample time to take kids games as the toddler contests are likely to place unnecessary demands on them to behave in a particular manner. Too soon exposure to beauty contests could be a breeding place for difficult emotional times when the girls hit adolescence. During their puberty, they may face confusion as they might not the excitement of that stage following the extreme exposure to the value of beauty. Further, as the physical development come, and maybe they develop acne on their face, it would bring unnecessary pressure as the girl would consider that as a distraction from beauty pursuits. In fact, it can bother them to the extent of seeking unhealthy ways of eliminating the pimples.
The early exposure to beauty products and beauty contests can lead to narcissism. This would involve these toddlers growing with a wrong mindset about beauty and themselves. Such children may place the value of beauty higher than it should by terming it as the only thing that matters most in life. In fact, some would take any miles and risks to remain flawless and within certain shapes and sizes. The value of physical attractiveness is not supposed to supersede other aspects of human beings like character, education or interpersonal relationships. Cartwright, (pp.1105) suggests that it would be valuable to tell the children that beauty is not all in the looks, unfortunately, that rarely happens. Consequently, with consistent participation in the beauty contest, the young girls may consider their value to be attached on how they look. Such a persuasion is not only unrealistic but also detrimental. It leads girls to be too self-absorbed to the extent that it affects their relationships. Additionally, in case some temporary and unattractive physical changes emerge, the girls may lose their self-worth because that which it was attached was shaken. This fluctuation of self-worth can destabilize ones life throughout their adult life. Further, maintaining the physically attractive body according to the media can require unhealthy extremes like starving to maintain a slim body which would affect their health negatively in the long run (Kelly and Garmon, pp.203). However, most toddlers who continue in the beauty contests would be willing to do that to affirm and validate their worth.
Toddler pageants have financial implications as the children have no source of income to support their ventures. Sellers exaggerate the prices of clothes and attire used for toddlers contests. The cost of getting make ups, wigs and hairdo, fake eyebrows and the like can demand so much from the parents leading to budget constraint for the family (Schultz and Murphy, pp.1). Moreover, toddler pageants are giving parents an opportunity to look at their children like any other investments where they expect a return on investment. It is regarded as an achievement by proxy distortion which involves parents willingness to make risky financial decisions like taking loans to ensure that their daughters participate in the contests as noted by Cartwright, (pp.1105). Because of the financial implications of failing to emerge, winners, parents put unnecessary pressure on children to perform so that the investment would be worthwhile. Such a thing in exploiting the child and may deny the child an opportunity to enjoy the session. Further, it can result in resentment when they toddler grows up to realize that the parent was using them as a means to the end. It is unethical for adults to earn through a childs accomplishments especially when it is a preconceived decision. Alternatively, if the child does not manage, the parents may develop bitterness as they repay back the money they had taken. In the event the child gets the reward, the parents can disregard other kids who were unable to bring such returns, and the child may also despise other siblings.
Proponents, on the other hand, suggest that toddler pageants have significant benefits and children should be allowed to participate. They suggest that the process of preparation for the pageant develops a sense of responsibility for the child as they do things that initially would be done by adults. Further, it helps them develop confidence as they do the moves on the stage, talk or even do the catwalks. Children who engage in beauty pageants develop self-esteem and their self-worth. They learn how to care for themselves and how not to allow anybody to intimidate them. Such can help them gain excellence in their academic circles and also exploit their talents in many areas with unnecessary fear. Children who engage in toddler contests can obtain different financial returns like college scholarships which can help a great deal financially (Cartwright, pp. 1106). Moreover, as the parents walk with their children in that journey of beauty pageants, it provides both with an opportunity of fun and travels coupled with great bonding. It can help the child develop a strong and healthy relationship with the child which would not be possible apart from the pageants.
In conclusion, toddler pageants should be banned in the USA and if children are to compete in beauty contents, it should be allowed only within the school curriculum. Toddler pageants can present physical attractiveness as the thing that matters most and make the children pursue beauty at whatever costs which is unhealthy and can present emotional developmental challenges on children. Further, toddler pageants places parents at a place that they can go extreme financial strides to have their children in the pageants in the hope they will get some returns on their investment. Beauty contests are unhealthy as they expose children to sexual matters too early. However, the supporters of toddler pageants suggest that they can help boost their self-worth, winners can get scholarships and parents can get an opportune time to travel and bond. Nonetheless, the holistic price of the toddler pageants outweighs the benefits and as such children should not be allowed to compete in beauty contests.
Cartwright, Martina M. “Princess by proxy: What child beauty pageants teach girls about self-worth and what we can do about it.” (2012): 1105-1107.
Healy, Michelle. “Could Child Beauty Pageants Be Banned in the USA?.” USA Today, http://www. usatoday. com/story/news/nation/2013/09/22/beauty-pageants-children–ban/2842431/Kiersz A (2015), Ranked: The 50 (2013).
Kelly, Jessica M., and Lance C. Garmon. “Perceptions of child beauty pageants and their impacts: What really lies behind the tiara?.” Atlantic Journal of Communication 24.4 (2016): 201-215.
Schultz, Kristen, and Ann Pleshette Murphy. “Beauty Pageants Draw Children and Criticism.” Good Morning America Website.