Model Response : Are Children’s beauty pageants an appropriate activity for young girls?
Beauty pageants began during the 1960s and have become an entrenched part of American culture that with globalization is being exported around the world. (Nussbaum, accessed 2013). In these pageants, children as young as 3, are judged according to criteria of external beauty and performance that are called “the complete package”. (Nussbaum, accessed 2013) These children are exclusively female.
Participation in pageants has become a hot debate in Australia since 2011. The creators of the Universal Royalty Pageant featured in the documentary Painted Babies and Toddlers and Tiaras, were contracted to establish a similar pageant in Melbourne. This was met with vehement opposition from parents and experts alike. Dr Carr-Gregg, a respected Australian adolescent psychologist, stated that these pageants are “bordering on child abuse.” (Carr-Gregg cited in Gearin, 2011) Others have called for legislation of age restrictions for beauty pageants, and a code of conduct for all forms of child performance. (Gearin, 2011)
Painted Babies clearly demonstrates “the complete package” requires children to be pampered and preened to resemble performing dolls. This objectification includes excessive hair, make-up, fake-tan even dental treatment in the pursuit of physical perfection. The children develop song and dance routines to display their talents. These often have an adult, sexy over-tone some argue is ‘creepy’ causing a ‘general discomfort’ in the viewing public. (Faulkner, 2011) Participation in such competitions clearly constructs a stereotypical form of femininity; the perception that external beauty and sexualized behaviour is the key to success.
In defense mothers have argued these competitions enhance the mother-daughter bond; participation is something they do together. (Hill, cited in Gearin, 2011) However, Brook Breedwell an original from Painted Babies, said her mother...