Exploitation in Child Beauty Pageants

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Exploitation in Child Beauty Pageants

It is 6:00 a.m. on Friday morning, and Sharon is about to awaken her eighteen month old baby, Jessica, to prepare her for a long weekend of make-up, hairspray, and gowns. Jessica is one of the thousands of babies forced into the many children's beauty pageants each year. Sharon is among the many over-demanding parents who pressure their young and innocent children into beauty pageants each year and this is wrong.

Beauty pageants were started many years ago but became more prominent in the society in 1921, when a hotel owner started a contest to keep tourists in town past Labor Day. The winner of this contest would be called Miss America. Miss America pageants have been a yearly event ever since then, except during the Great Depression. Then, in 1960, pageants were getting so popular that a Little Miss America was started for parents who wanted their children in beauty pageants (Nussbaum).

Children's beauty pageants are judged by the following: modeling sportswear and evening wear, how well they dance, and how much talent they have. The children themselves are judged by their looks, how well they perform, and how confident they appear. Approximately 250, 000 children participate in pageants each year. Mothers

who have their children in beauty pageants say that their children gain confidence through performing. They also say that they are more prepared for life and will be more socially comfortable. They argue that their children mature at a younger age than "normal" children do. Why would any parent want their children to grow up any faster than they already do? Beauty pageants are not the only way that a child at such a young age can gain confidence.

The only confidence that a child at eighteen months needs to gain is eating on her own, standing up on her own and the confidence that her family loves her. If these children have and learn these three things, they will most likely have great self-confidence. On the other hand, take the child who loses the pageant, for example. There are visible effects that the child shows if she loses; she then thinks less of herself and thinks she has let her parents down because she did not place first (Christman).

Parents also conclude that children who participate in beauty pageants may receive scholarships (Gleick). Beauty pageant scholarships are not the only scholarships available.
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