“3 million kids-most of them girls-between the ages of

million kids-most of them girls-between the ages of 6 months and 16 years are
in American pageants each year” (O’Neil pp.20). This is a significant number of
children in America. Childhood beauty pageants are having a negative
psychological effect on children. Pageants are sexualizing young girls, they
are teaching children that they need to change their appearance, they cost a
tremendous amount of money, and parents are living through their children. All
of these children are overwhelmed with a fast pace environment and are set to a
high standard of beauty according to society. These children are expected to
act and look a certain way and if they don’t they will be looked down upon or
they will be scored poorly in the pageant. Some of the things that are
“required” from the girls are flippers, which are false teeth. The purpose of a
flipper is to hide any imperfections or missing teeth from the judges. This is
just one of the many standards these little girls are expected to withstand in
order to even compete with the competition. There are two different types of
beauty pageants, there are glitz pageants and natural pageants. Natural
pageants focus on a contestant’s natural beauty, which means the child will be
more moderately decorated dresses and no to minimal makeup. Natural pageants
would just consist of the beauty portion. In Glitz pageants, the child is
judged mainly on external beauty, they wear heavier makeup, their costumes are
covered in sparkles, and the almost always consists of a beauty portion,
swimsuit, outfit of choice, and talent. Beauty pageants are associated with a
variety of negative psychological and social effects along with inappropriate
attention to these children.

            Beauty “pageants were marked as
communal events, organizers promoted them as affable sites where each
contestant could feel good about herself” (Lieu pp. 28). Beauty pageants became
popular in America in 1917 when cities on the coasts would have contestants in
bathing suits that would be reviewed and judged. These pageants attracted
thousands of people to compete and to watch. The Miss America pageant was
introduced in 1921, with similar concepts of the bathing suits competition,
except they included a photo contest. The winner would be named “the most
beautiful bathing beauty in America”. In 1951, the world’s first Miss World
pageant took place in London. In 1980, the Miss Teen pageant was created, and
is targeted at an even younger audience than the Miss America pageant. On
December 12, 2008 “Toddlers and Tiaras” aired for the very first time. This
show gave the American public an insight to the pageant world. This show shows
contestants from the age of 12 months to 14 years old. From the very beginning
this show got a bad rap because of the torture these young girls where being
put through. However, the show got millions of views because of the drama from
the moms. The American public is drawn to this type of entertainment and is
only encouraging the parents to keep putting their children in pageants and
broadcasting their lives on national television.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

            Pageants are sexualizing young
girls. Their outfits they are forced to wear can sometimes be provocative and
revealing. For example, a 2-year-old named Mia was broadcasted on “Toddler and
Tiaras” wearing a Madonna costume which consisted of a cone bra. Her mother
thought this outfit was perfectly acceptable for her daughter to wear. Many times,
these young contestants will use inappropriate dance moves on the stage. They
will often times be encouraged to shake their butts or strut around the stage
in skimpy costumes. In one instance a young girl was forced by her mother to
skimpy lion costume, that would be considered a bathing suit, on stage and she
danced around in a cage climbing on it and she even did a split at the top of
the cage. This performance got a lot of attention from the press and the
American public because many people thought she looked and danced like a
stripper. By allowing these young girls to wear these risqué costumes we are
proving to them that it is ok to show your body. Children in these pageants are
maturing way to quickly and this has negative effects on their mental health.
For example, “Former beauty queen Nicole Hunter, who competed in pageants as a
girl, explains that dressing and acting like a woman at a young age compelled
her to prematurely confront her sexuality, which in turn lowered her self-esteem”
(Lieberman pp.739).

            Pageants are teaching children that
they need to change their appearance. Their parents force then to get fake
tans, fake hair, fake teeth, and an abundance of makeup. The parents “give
their daughters an edge in the beauty department by applying enhancements, such
as fake nails, spray tans, hair dye, permanent eyelashes, teeth-whitening
strips, eyebrow wax, and even fake teeth” (Wolfe pp.431). By making these
children get these “enhancements” they get into their mind that they are not
good enough, that they need these “enhancements” in order to look pretty. They
eventually start to believe that they need to change their appearance in order
to succeed. Sometimes, parents force their elementary school age children to be
on diets. Children do not need to be on diets, except for extreme cases of
obesity, however putting one’s child on a diet for having a little extra fat is
absurd. Children will have baby fat that will eventually go away. For a parent
to tell their child they need to go on a diet will cause negative mental
effects on the child because they think the skinner they are the more success
or more beautiful they will be. This mindset could lead to early age plastic
surgery, anorexia, or bulimia. For example, Nicole Hunter says, “As a girl, she
suffered from stress and anxiety while striving for an unrealistic standard of
perfection” (Lieberman pp.740).

            Pageants cost a tremendous amount of
money. Parents will spend thousands of dollars on just one pageant and only receive
a few hundred dollars in awards, if they win. For example, Eden Wood, a former
beauty pageant participant, says “her parents have spent more than $70,000 on
her pageant career” (Lieberman pp.739). This money could have easily gone to
something else, like college to better educate her and give her a bright
future. Whereas spending this much money on pageants can only give her mental
health problems. Also, spending all this money on pageants can take a toll on
the family’s home environment. Often times on the show “Toddlers and Tiaras”
the families participating in pageants come from a poorer lifestyle than most
Americans, they live in trailers and don’t have nice vehicles. In extreme
cases, they may not even have enough money to get food for their children. The
members of families on this show often do not get along with one another. The
fathers of the children are usually upset with the mothers for spending this
much on pageants, sometimes they will not even show up to the pageant to
support their child, because they think it is a waste of money. This cannot be
good for a child, they get in the mindset that their dad and mom always are
fighting and their dad is not going to support them in the activities they do. This
can also cause mental health problems at a young age and as an adult, these
would include depression, low self-esteem, and a higher risk of suicide.
Growing up without a supportive father can also cause a child to be more likely
to use drugs, more likely to do poorly in school, and more likely to be aggressive.

            Parents are living through their
children that compete in beauty pageants. These children have no individuality,
they do everything their parents say. “Psychiatrist Carole Lieberman describes six-year-old
Eden, a highly successful pageant queen, as a victim of her mother’s obsession
to live vicariously through her because mom doesn’t feel pretty or sexy enough
herself” (Wolfe pp.430).  If their
parents want them to wear a green dress, they will wear a green dress. They
have no say in what they do and wear. They are living robots. Also, on the television
show, “Toddlers and Tiaras” the moms can sometimes become very violent with
each other. They will use foul language without even considering that their children
are listening and watching them act like a child. Their children then think it
is ok for them to act and talk like that. This imitation of their parents can
lead to the child behaving poorly and sometimes they will also use foul

            “Pageant parents insist that
competing in beauty pageants is no different from playing a sport” (O’Neil
pp.21), they allow for friendly competition and a child can practice good sportsmanship.
However, pageants are not like sports because the pageants girls are not
friendly to each other they strongly dislike one another. They will do anything
in their power to make sure they will not lose to the other girls. The pageant
girls and their parents both do not practice good sportsmanship, in pageants
they do not shake hands with their opponents or congratulate them on a title or
even a good effort, like sports do. In pageants, the winners take their crowns
and trophies and leave, and the losers usually run out of the auditorium crying
with their parents harping on them for doing a bad job. Another argument
pageant parents have is that if their child competes in pageants they will be
able to practice pose and proper etiquette on stage. In the 1900’s a competitor
would be able to practice pose and proper etiquette however, now the girls are all
about making these ridiculous facials and using dance moves the would not even
be close to saying that they are good pose.

pageants are associated with a variety of negative psychological and social
effects along with inappropriate attention to these children. Girls need
positive role that don’t focus on outward appearances, but instead focus on
being strong independent women.