The other day I sat down and watched an interesting show on the Oxygen Network. Usually I don’t watch that station, but this caught my eye; it was a beauty pageant with children between the ages of 4-to 8-years-old.
My eyes were glued to this show, not because of the beauty; instead, the insanity of it all. Shocked, is the best word to describe how I felt watching this show. I mean, mothers were spending their life savings to get these girls into these pageants and turning into slave drivers. I see these flawless children, dolled up in globs of make-up to cover up their imperfections. Seriously, how many wrinkles can a four-year-old have?
When the child is done with their make-up and hair, they look ten times their age. The kids are having absolute tantrums because of the mother’s stressful behavior, or they are complete snobs like their parents.
This brings questions to my mind like, is this morally right? Is this really building self-esteem or is it causing a premature unhealthy ego for the child. Does this teach these young girls who are in a vulnerable learning age that beauty is everything? Can this cause them to develop eating disorders or worse when they get older?
Those questions that popped into my mind are serious ones. In today’s society, especially with women, looks and beauty are a major concern for them. It isn’t uncommon to hear a story where a woman develops an eating disorder because she wants to be skinny and beautiful as the women are in the magazines. Now, force a child to be beautiful at the influential age of four. As they grow up and change, they may not have the same looks they did when they won the pageants back when they were little girls. They may have gained weight or a feature has changed dramatically, at least to them. When they look in the mirror they may not like what they see, despite the fact they are still absolutely gorgeous. This is all due to the strict guidelines they had to follow while growing up.
Do these pageants bring out the “witch” in these children? Well, hearing these mother’s talk to their children, you would swear that everyone else is dirt and their child or recipient of the praise is perfect. This does not help a child’s demeanor one bit. It helps with the attitude to make their child feel like they are a winner and be proud, but that message stays in their heads and can easily continue to run even when they aren’t on stage. That means that sense of “I’m the best” will transpose itself into their school and other social gathering places. In my opinion, this will do one or two things. For one, it will turn them into the popular, stuck-up girl on campus that all the other girls want to be and will do anything to be friends with. Or, it will do the complete opposite and drive people away from them, which can lead to other major mental issues down the line.
So, are these pageants bad for children? No, not if the parents set a good example for their daughter. It’s the same with boys and sports. For instance, some coaches take the game way too far, treating their kids like they are multi-million dollar players, hoping for a win in an important tournament. Heaven forbid they lose the game, it’s as if they lost the actual World Series. The point is, any social event, art, or sport is good if you teach your child well.
Parents should look at this as a fun experience, and curb the boasting and attitudes by leaving them on the “stage” or “playing field.” They should teach good sportsmanship, and how to be kind in the moment of defeat. If that happens, and is strictly enforced, then these events can be fun and a great learning experience for these children. Especially with pageants, the parents must instill in their child that they are beautiful and don’t need to change for anyone, regardless of the reason.
As well, parents should not be living their dream of being the beauty queen, or sports star through their child. I tend to feel that the reason they act so intense with their children competing, is because they are living their dream vicariously. Parents, that is not fair to your child. Never force them into beauty pageants or anything competitive if they don’t want to become involved. If they should lose interest in pageantry or sports, search for something else they are interested in and most importantly, don’t take it as a personal insult.
These events can be a great way to spend time with your child, so make the most of them and keep them fun! If you do, the experience will be magical, I promise.