Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Child beauty pageants, love them, hate them, ignore them or are they just a money making gimmick?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26829points) March 17th, 2011

Taking a objective look at,
are child beauty pageants a great way to instill discipline, self-consciousness, a form of abuse, a money making gimmick, self-esteem killer? With child pageants you either love them or you hate them (with the “I hate them” crowd slightly more vocal). I seen an excerpt on one anti-pageant site that said:

I am always amazed by parents who press their children into beauty pageants because there is an embedded perversion in wanting to help create an idealized image of a mature woman in the body of a five or six-year-old child.

Would you agree that any parent who would place their child in a pageant as being mentally warped?

Another eluded to: Can anyone be surprised that child beauty pageants pander to and attract perverts and pedophiles? Isn’t that the audience those pageants are purposefully serving? Aren’t child beauty pageants that sexualize children really meat markets for pedophiles seeking the purchase of a sexual treat?

Mature men and women do not take an interest in the overt sexualization of children idealized as adults. Would you go as far as to say anyone who places their child in pageants are sexual deviants or just serving their children up to pedophiles like a ham on a platter?

Is it all just one big brouhaha concocted by the media because of a small but vocal pageant opposition?

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51 Answers

Taciturnu's avatar

Hate them, for the exploiting nature and pressure put on the child.

EDIT: Usually.

chyna's avatar

Mothers wanting to live vicariously through their daughters.

gailcalled's avatar

(Psst. Brouhaha)

tranquilsea's avatar

I find them really distasteful. That is insane pressure for kids. They seem to teach young girls that you’re only pretty with spray tans, false teeth, copious amounts of makeup and $10,000 dresses.

I don’t know what the parents are thinking.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

<Brouhaha corrected per @gailcalled. People take note and give props>

filmfann's avatar

I have a friend who entered her daughter in many child beauty pageants. The girl won many of them.
I have a strong distaste for such things, and for adult beauty pageants as well, but I think the children’s pageants are creapy.
I mean, who isn’t creaped out by pictures of Jonbenet Ramsey?

Coloma's avatar

I think they are an obscene example of an unhealthy society that objectifies and exploits whomever it can. Bah!

cak's avatar

We have a member of the family that is a pageant mom, her poor daughter is a pageant child. (Changing names here, with my luck, she’s on here.) Allie is the daughter, she just turned 7. Last year, she begged her mother to not take her to another pageant. That went over like a lead balloon.

She pays more for the dresses, make-up, coaches and waxing (really, at 7?!?) than she ever sees her daughter win. I also know that the father only agreed when they set up a trust for her daughter. All but 1.5% goes into the trust and the rest can be used towards other pageants. There is not a lot rolling back into the pageant fund. We think he used that idea to discourage her. Wouldn’t “no” have been a much better answer?

It’s creepy. A little girl that age shouldn’t be worrying about things like this, she should be experiencing a childhood. @tranquilsea used the word that came right into my mind, distasteful.

When this beautiful little girl comes to our house, she’s thrilled to let her inner-tomboy free. My son has a hard time keeping up with her, and he’s a wild child!

zenvelo's avatar

I think a lot of it is a scam, as @cak has pointed out. A friend was approached by “an agent” with the implied promise that their daughter would be “discovered”. They spent tons of money on clothes and make up and hair styling and pageant entry fees. I think they were blinded by “how beautiful” their daughter was that they didn’t realize what a waste of time and money it was.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@chyna Mothers wanting to live vicariously through their daughters. To some point but I would not bet on 100%.

@tranquilsea They seem to teach young girls that you’re only pretty with spray tans, false teeth, copious amounts of makeup and $10,000 dresses. Isn’t that what teen girls and even women are taught anyhow(swap out the $10,000 gown for a set of $6,000 pair of after market boobs)?

@cak @zenvelo She pays more for the dresses, make-up, coaches and waxing (really, at 7?!?) than she ever sees her daughter win.

They spent tons of money on clothes and make up and hair styling and pageant entry fees.

So who is making all the coin, the gown makers, the pageant operators, the agents, voice coaches, etc? Are they all just trying to glom there part out of it or are they in collusion to prey on these parents and get their feeding frenzy on?

Aethelwine's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Isn’t that what teen girls and even women are taught anyhow(swap out the $10,000 gown for a set of $6,000 pair of after market boobs.

No! (not answering for @tranquilsea here, just my opinion) My prom dress and wedding dress cost less than $200 combined, and I’m happy with my B boobs, thank you. ;)

@cak That is so sad. If the child doesn’t want to do it, why make them? I understand sticking to something you signed up for for the season. Quiting is not an option in our household. But if the poor girl would rather play ball, let her! I understand your frustration. :/

zenvelo's avatar

The pageant “organizers” make a lot of the money. They are all the same organizers, going from town to town in a small circuit. And of course the stylists and costumers are there to help, handing out their cards to, as you say, glom on to the cash.

cak's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central: The last pageant she won, early this year, she won $1000, an obnoxious trophy and a pre-printed press release for the newspaper. Her dress for the “beauty” part of the contest, was $3300 – and that was a deal, according to the mother. That is scary. I know she tans, gets the hair done and has hair pieces to add – there is a make-up artist that helps them the day of the show. There is some more money.

The operators have to be making some serious money. There are entrance fees. A lot of these require an overnight stay, if they aren’t in your area – or at least a room to get ready in, for the day. The hotels are making money. There is money, galore, in this…if you look for all the places it is spent. It’s not the child, or the family that makes money, it’s everyone else that makes money on the back of these children. It’s sick.

This little girl has a pageant coach, that’s a lot of money right there. They have one that is sought after, in this area and charges in the thousands.

If I could call it child abuse, I would. Wait, I have called it that, before.

woodcutter's avatar

It’s just wrong. And these are the type of overly competitive parents who will get in a fight with other parents at a little league game. Toddlers in Tiaras on TLC is creepy. That whole network is shit.

Pandora's avatar

I find it creepy. When my daughter was a toddler so many people would tell me she was so pretty and should be in pagents. Even her doctor. I couldn’t see taking her childhood away for some trophies and some money. I couldn’t see driving and staying in hotels and leaving the rest of my family to chase dreams that may come to nothing. I could never take her away from her dad and her brother who she looked forward to seeing every day and her friends to play out in a yard so I could live a dream that was never hers to begin with and have her parade in front of stangers trying to prove to them that she was a pretty little girl. She already proved that simply by being my little girl. She didn’t need awards to comfirm what I already knew and others as they came to know her. She was sweet and unspoiled and she would remain so till she was mature.
I think its horrible for any parent to take that away from any child.

Ron_C's avatar

I have always found the idea of pageants for children deeply disturbing, even when I was a child. I think the parents, especially the mothers are deeply disturbed and are exploiting their children. Those pageants are just as abusive as Jesus Camp.

While I’m at it, when did parents start letting their girls start dressing like hookers and the boys dressing as street thugs?

deni's avatar

They’re everything that is wrong in the world.

SuperMouse's avatar

They are just plain gross as far as I am concerned. I stopped watching Toddlers & Tiaras because I just sat dumbfounded staring at the screen shaking my head and wondering. I do like the way the producers of that show seem to know how awful this whole scam is and kind of treat it as such even while the subjects are taking it so seriously.

Every time I have watched though, I have wondered why any parent would make that much more work for themselves! Raising little kids is tough enough without having to worry about spray tans and updo’s! I mean seriously, having to develop and enforce a behavior plan that encourages your kid to do really rock their dance routine and sell it to the judges? That would be way too much work for me!

JilltheTooth's avatar

I also agree that they are creepy really really creepy but I would like it, @Hypocrisy_Central if you could find a “pro” view to cite for some balance. I just don’t know enough about the issue.

ucme's avatar

Some dickheads parents start them way earlier. More or less sums it up. :¬(

rooeytoo's avatar

I personally think beauty pageants are sad for anyone at any age but particularly little kids.

Now I admit that no one would ever look at me and say wow you should be in a beauty contest, hehehe. And I wonder if my take on them would be different if I were a competitor???

I guess I can’t blame anyone for taking an easy ride through life because they were born beautiful, I just don’t respect them as I would a woman who worked hard to become an engineer or race car driver or pilot. Anything that requires some input other than a lucky dip in the gene pool.

janbb's avatar

Daon’t like ‘em. Entirely put the emphasis on the wrong set of values.

Seelix's avatar

I think they’re creepy. I’ve watched those pageant shows on the lifestyle channels a few times, and usually the kids either don’t want to do the pageants at all, or their tiny egos are so inflated that they burst into tears if they don’t win.

Parents who want to teach their kids healthy competition are much better off putting them in organized sports, in my opinion.

mattbrowne's avatar

I prefer music or sports contests.

marinelife's avatar

Hate them.

I think it puts the emphasis on looks and on dressing up rather than on internal attributes.

sakura's avatar

toddlers and tiaras twin girls… I felt so sorry for both girls, jamie stirling


Scooby's avatar

Holy shit!! it’s like a breeding kennel for kids, how wrong is that!! :-/
That father should grow some bigger balls & stand up to his wife… friction indeed! What are they doing to them kids!?!? :-/

xjustxxclaudiax's avatar

Give those girls barbies and let them play outside like KIDS should do. Leave the hair spray, make-up, and fake teeth to the adults….I feel embarrassed for the kids for having such ridiculous parents.

blueiiznh's avatar

hate them. they are like watching a train wreck.
Most of these are parents living vicariously through their children.

Makes me sick!

xjustxxclaudiax's avatar

@sakura OMG!! Am I the only one who feels the sudden urge to slap the mother?!

wundayatta's avatar

I wonder why people do these things? Did the mothers do pageants when they were young and remember them fondly? Is it a status seeking thing? They can brag about how many contests their daughters won? Or do some girls really want to do them?

Being beautiful does seem to be a profession these days. It merely starts with the right genes. The makeup and clothing and wiggling and all those must-learns are a very important addiction. Probably worth a lot more than good genes.

Sure, beauty is important in our society. It’s an advantage to be beautiful in some ways, although it is a disadvantage, as well. It can open doors, but it can also lead people to think you are dumb. Generally speaking, on average, beautiful people are more intelligent, surprisingly enough.

I suppose teaching your children how to look their best, and how to have poise in stressful situations could be very important for their futures. They are really skills that will help almost anyone.

Still, it seems so high pressure, and more to the point, there’s something sick about it—the objectification of girls. Like many, when I see this stuff, I get a bit nauseas when I see it. Was it “Little Miss Sunshine” that was a dark comedy about pageants? People can devote their lives to these things. Which, I suppose, isn’t a bad thing. So many people are looking for a purpose. Who are we to judge what other people’s purposes in life are?

tranquilsea's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central They seem to teach young girls that you’re only pretty with spray tans, false teeth, copious amounts of makeup and $10,000 dresses. Isn’t that what teen girls and even women are taught anyhow(swap out the $10,000 gown for a set of $6,000 pair of after market boobs)?”

Just because “they” try to put that out there doesn’t mean that I, as a parent, can’t see what truly makes my children beautiful and encourage that.

What @jonsblond stated was true for me too. Although I think the combination of my graduation dress and my wedding dress was $600….I didn’t, and don’t, buy into the whole fashion/advertising machine and I’m teaching my daughter the same.

OpryLeigh's avatar

They freak me out. Little kids acting and looking like minature adults give me the heebie jeebies! However, if there is a programme on TV about child beauty pageants I often find myself not being able to tear my eyes away from it. It’s like a train wreck, you don’t want to look but ou can’t help yourself. I am often disgusted by the parents at these things but I try to remember that if it is on TV they have probably deliberately filmed the worst of the worst because it makes for more gripping viewing.

sakura's avatar

@xjustxxclaudiax oh yeah I so wanted to slap her I felt so bad for the twin that wasnt the favourite one…so cruel

KatawaGrey's avatar

The simple idea of a child beauty contest is not such a bad thing, I think. What bothers me about these contests is everything that goes with it. Children should not get crown caps or fake tans or be wearing makeup or parade around in high heels and wearing ridiculous dresses. I also think that if a child doesn’t want to do it, then she shouldn’t have to.

So, I guess what bothers me is everything that goes with the pageant. If it were simply a talent show where how pretty the girls were was a portion of the contest, the idea wouldn’t bother me so much. In that sense, it would be like a spelling bee or the like rather than a nasty objectification of small children.

Ron_C's avatar

I notice that there was a 100% condemnation of the beauty pageants for children. Is there anyone but a failed fashion model or actress, pageant organizer, or pedophile that thinks the pageants are a good idea?

YARNLADY's avatar

I think it’s a shame that people are only familiar with the national beauty contests like the ones on TV. We used to have little local fund raisers where the children who wanted to were allowed to dress up walk on a runway. The parents donated a participation fee, and the audience all donated money to the charity. All the proceeds went to benefit the charity.

We didn’t allow any make-up or dyed hair. The clothes were all loaned to the pageant by the charity or the sponsor. It was more like a party, and everyone enjoyed it.

sakura's avatar

I remember being in the bonny baby competitions at Butlins holiday camps but they were more about cute and cuddly and cheeky baby’s natural wise not all the fake stuff!
butlins bonny baby

The only time we dressed up was as micky & minnie mouse, Worzel Gummage and Aunt Sally, A packet of Smiths crisps anda sack of spuds! ust some of the fabulous fancy dress outfits my mum made for us!!

RareDenver's avatar

They are pretty fucking weird in my book.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@sakura I won a Boots (as in the chemist) beautiful baby competition when I was about one year old. Like the Butlins competitions, this was about cure and not creepy.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@JilltheTooth _ I also agree that they are creepy really really creepy but I would like it, @Hypocrisy_Central if you could find a “pro” view to cite for some balance._ I have not found one yet, though the hunt goes on. Unless it comes from those in the biz or the likes, the only voices you can readily find are those who are dead set against it. Logically all the money in it and the fact that no matter what generation that comes up there are a new crop of wiggly toddlers, tween and teen girls strutting their stuff on the stage that there has to be supporters. I think those supporters are like those who advocate prison reforms even for sex offenders; they are out there but to speak their mind will get their car keyed so they stay closed mouth.

If I take away all emotion and look at the logic of it I can see possible advantages of it some being:
• Teaches the girl structure, how better to keep a schedule or make a deadline.
• Memorization, be it a routine or speech.
• How to act polite in a social setting.
• Certain grooming details.
• Handling of nerves.

Not to say pageants are the only way kids can gain these skills but pageants logically do bring that to the table. As I said, can’t find any blogs etc. that support any of that logic or supporting pageants in general.

@mattbrowne I prefer music or sports contests. You can find bad examples there too. Kids rising before dawn taking an hour drive to the pool or rink to get in a training session before class them ore afterwards, the private coaches, etc all to win the tournament or to get a state or national ranking or dreams of the Olympics. One could say behind those kids is a faded QB or a figure skater who never got selected to the big show at the Olympics hoping to do it through their daughter, or a has been fighter hoping to get the WBF championship belt by way of his son. The pageants themselves are mostly a vehicle (as other activities can be) the parents are the ones driving it and society provides the road.

@sakura toddlers and tiaras twin girls… I felt so sorry for both girls I think the way the mother is going about it is a bit unsympathetic but no matter what, grades, athletic ability, etc every family knows how is not equal to the better one in the family that done it. I have coached in soccer leagues where the kids were a year apart and ended up on different teams or were on different teams because the kids just would not play on the same team as their siblings as kids like having ”their own thing”, which can pit them against each other if they are in the same division or different division and both make the play offs. That is just the way it is but there are ways not to play it up to the child that is not as crafty, athletic or in this case as cute.

@Scooby That father should grow some bigger balls & stand up to his wife… friction indeed! Too what end? As a man I can see his position, stuck between a bad or worse situation. He can put his foot down and say “The pageants or me, make a choice?” and if she don’t blink then he becomes a ”Disneyland Dad” that instead of having his girls in his life everyday gets them on weekends and 2 week in the summer. He can win the battle and lose the war big time. Unless the mother wants them wrestling gators or something physically dangerous I say he whittle slowly from the inside than trying to take an ax to the outside.

@wundayatta Sure, beauty is important in our society. It’s an advantage to be beautiful in some ways, although it is a disadvantage, as well. It can open doors, but it can also lead people to think you are dumb. Being pretty has always opened more doors and created more opportunity than not. This nation (the US) strives off beauty 1st all other things second no matter how it is framed. Look at the face selling you this or that in the media, magazine especially? Beauty and sex is used to sell us everything from breath mints, cologne, burgers, jewelry, close, cars, eyeglasses and then some. We don’t look across the punch bowl at a party and say ”I surely would love to meet him/her I bet he/she has a great personality or sense of conversation”, conversation and personality can’t catch your eye, beauty does. If you are on vacation and see someone in the ship’s lounge it will be how they look and what they are wearing that will catch your eye before you walk in there and start thinking who has the same love of books as I do.

20/20 and even What Would You Do? Had segments were they tested out who would get more help if lost or in some other sticky situation and to my estimate 60% of the time the pretty women or hansom man got more help and got it quicker than the less handsome pretty and or overweight. People don’t want to come off as liking “pretty” but we are all hard wired to do so 1st even with cars we buy, pets we own etc.

One 20/20 segment I can remember they had a line up of men from short, around 5’ 6” to tall, over 6ft and asked a panel of young ladies who would they want to go out with. No one picked the short men, when the host said that one of the short men was a CEO of a Fortune 500 and made 7 figures, that peaked the interest of some and even changed the mind of one but off his height alone he was getting nowhere. Another man in the line up was of regular height but not as handsome. When asked why any of the women didn’t pick him and it was clear he was not as ”man pretty”, however, mention the fact he made upper 6 figures he became more ”interesting” to a handful of the women. The show guest expert says that a less handsome man will have to earn at least $20,000 more than his more handsome counter part to garner the interest of the same caliber of women.

wundayatta's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Hmmmm. I’m not even 5’6” (a half inch shy). I don’t make that much money. Lucky thing I managed to snag a wife (who is 3 inches taller). There is something to be said for not being a jerk.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oh, Wundy, you’re a giant to me! (I’m 5’1” on a really good, low gravity day.)

rooeytoo's avatar

I am 5’.25” and let me tell you that .25 is very important to me, heheh. But truly short people are more valuable to the world. If all were our height we could make ceilings 6’5” instead of 8’ and think of all the cubic feet of space that would not have to be heated and cooled. We could save the world a fortune!!!

JilltheTooth's avatar

Not to mention the joy we add to the world by simply being just So. Damned. Cute!

rooeytoo's avatar

@JilltheTooth – so true! :-)

tranquilsea's avatar

my poor daughter will be lucky if she reaches 4’11”. I ended up being the tallest in my family (at 5’5”) until my baby brother shot past me to 5’11. When I was still growing I didn’t want to go beyond 5’ because I wanted all the men to be taller than me.

wundayatta's avatar

@JilltheTooth I’m not cute! I’m dangerous!!

chyna's avatar

I’m 5’2 and cute.~

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@wundayatta There is something to be said for not being a jerk. And even more to be said of the woman who would take the time to find that out. You have a rare bird indeed, hope you continue to treat each other very well. ;-)

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