Objectification In Beauty Pageants

Satisfactory Essays
Last fall, the upper house of the French Parliament passed a bill that would prohibit children younger than 16 from competing in beauty pageants. One of the bill’s outspoken champions, Chantal Jouanno, praised the vote while declaring that “[it] is extremely destructive for a girl between the age of 6 and 12 to hear her mother say that what’s important for her is to be beautiful” (Rubin). Child beauty pageants, however, are not quite the big business as they are in the United States- recent television shows such as “Toddlers & Tiaras” and its spin-off “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” have raised the profile of an industry that generates about $5 billion in revenue annually (Giroux). But, is the conversation being held in France worth having in the US as well or is there too much profit to be made?
There are plenty of good, healthy reasons for parents to enter their children in beauty contests--they develop skills and build confidence, all while potentially opening the door for educational or other opportunities down the road. However, there are serious potential drawbacks. What effects do these competitions have on a young girl’s emotional health and well-being? Do they contribute to a growing eating disorder crisis among children and teens? Is there a wider issue about the objectification and sexualization of the children in these pageants? While there are benefits for young girls under the age of 12 who enter in child beauty pageants, the potential emotional and psychological damage means these competitions do more harm than good.
Parents who involve their children in beauty pageants often defend the decision as being no different from other extracurricular activities. As one parent noted, "I was always involved in baseball, football...

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...mpeting in beauty pageants, there are also significant and potentially harmful drawbacks to these extracurricular activities. They contribute to individual and cultural perceptions that winning is the only important thing in life, they compound the risk of children developing emotional and psychological issues around their self-esteem and body image, and they enable the objectification and sexualization of young girls. These children by definition lack the ability to advocate for themselves, and thus depend on their parents to make healthy decisions on their behalf. With the growth of the child beauty pageant industry, and the large influx of revenue thanks to shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras,” the question of whether a significant number of parents who involve their children in these competitions will be able to set and enforce healthy boundaries remains unresolved.
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