Child Pageants: Unethical or Healthy Competition?
By Cassie Pombrio
They arrive on stage dressed head to toe in pageant couture; faces painted resembling baby clowns, and as they begin to perform rehearsed routines, they eye the reason they’re there: the 5 foot-tall trophy and crystal tiara lying enticingly in the judge’s grip. According to the Rocky Mountain Collegian, child pageants provide poisonous competition at such a fragile, developmental stage in a child’s life. I quote them, “What these pageants communicate to participants is false conception such as: beauty merits recognition and self-worth based on physical attributes.” Is the strive to become “the complete package” in one of the fastest growing industries in American culture detrimental to self esteem or healthy competition?
Beauty pageants entered American society in the 1920’s. According to the Pageant Center online, the first pageant was held in Atlantic City by a hotel owner in an attempt to boost tourism by enticing summer visitors to stay past Labor Day. They held auditions based on looks and finally agreed on eight finalists. Those women competed in talent, swimsuit, and beach volleyball to become queen. A local newspaper caught a quote that made headlines nationwide. “Let’s call her Miss America!” Herb Test, a local newsman, exclaimed. And thus the Miss America pageant was named and produced.
Child pageants didn’t emerge until the 1960’s. They included the same categories as adult pageants such as: poise, confidence and capability. According to Pageant Center online, the first children’s pageant was held in 1961 at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. The Pageant was called Little Miss America and it drew the interest of over 35,000 young girls that flocked to participate. (Pageant Center)
However, children’s pageants didn’t peak until the 1990’s when the industry then flourished to produce more than 25,000 pageants yearly. With the rising interest of young...