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  1. #1
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    Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    I received an e-mail the other day, with faces of small little girls between the ages of maybe 3 and 6. All are very beautiful. All wearing make-up and of course their hair has been done by stylists.

    Most of you will be familiar with the beauty pageants that are held across America, especially for little girls.

    My Postion
    I am of the opinion that beauty contests are blown up out of proportion. They do more harm than good and that little girls are put under unecessary stress to perform in these contests. I think the competition reached a ridiculous level.

    Little girls can't just be little girls anymore. Their mothers are to blame, and I feel that they do in many cases pressure their children into participation. Some little girls even develop eating disorders.

    1. What is the value of a beauty contest for children of that age?
    2. Do you feel they learn anything from these pageants?
    3. Has the level of competition not raised rediculous levels in your opinion?

    I am looking for someone who will make me believe that there is in fact a good reason for having contests like this.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aspoestertjie View Post
    1. What is the value of a beauty contest for children of that age?
    2. Do you feel they learn anything from these pageants?
    3. Has the level of competition not raised rediculous levels in your opinion?
    Unfortunately for the thread, I agree with you.

    1. None. Other than possibly the girls get to make friends maybe.
    2. Unfortunately that looks are everything and they should judge themselves exclusively on how they appear and how much attention they get.
    3. Yes

  3. #3
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Asposetertjie
    1. What is the value of a beauty contest for children of that age?
    2. Do you feel they learn anything from these pageants?
    3. Has the level of competition not raised rediculous levels in your opinion?
    1 - Competition can be good, in theory. Self-sufficiency and a healthy amount of self-respect, as well as respect for others who do better. Dealing with pressure (although they could be a bit young to take it on at these levels). If "beauty" is judged differently than it is in adult beauty pageants, then go for it... appearances do matter in the real world, after all. My problem is when they make 7-year-olds up to look like they are 19 or 22.

    2 - Sure. See above.

    3 - Undoubtedly. The problem is that, at one point, these contests were designed as competitive displays of self-betterment. Then they switched over to competition for the sake of competition, and that made the whole mentality behind them go haywire.

    I would highly reccomend the film "Little Miss Sunshine" if you're looking for an art piece about this topic... the main plot revolves around a little girl and the pressures for her to win a beauty pageant like the one we are talking about here. In the end we learn that, like you were saying, Aspoestertjie, it's better to let little girls be little girls.
    So...

    I finaggled my way into being able to do a Philosophy minor. I blame you, ODN.


  4. #4
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    ... appearances do matter in the real world, after all
    Perhaps they do, but what point to teaching this lesson to girls at such a young age and validating this idea. I would think we would want to discourge this unfortunate trend rather than promote it.

    The image I have is that some girl Wendy goes to this contest with a certain idea about who she is and her place in the world, loses the contest, can comes out with a lesson that she is not as good as other people because of the way she looks.
    Ya, I would want to teach my child that! Sheesh!

  5. #5
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aspoestertjie
    1. What is the value of a beauty contest for children of that age?
    2. Do you feel they learn anything from these pageants?
    3. Has the level of competition not raised rediculous levels in your opinion?
    1. Girls 3 - 6 years old tend to like playing dress up. These contests give them a chance to bond with their moms, other little girls, and non-related adults in a safe environment while playing at something they already like to do. It's highly doubtful that a family who raised a girl to enjoy what my mom used to call "rough-housing" would enter that girl in a beauty contest.

    2. No. And why is that even important? After all, can't little girls just be little girls without needing to learn some grand lesson about life, sexuality, beauty, competition, etc?

    3. Define ridiculous. I'm sure there are anecdotes of obsessive parents who take pride in their young girl's successes as if they somehow are better parents because of it. I'm just as sure there are some parents who use the pageants as a fun activity and could care less if their daughter wins, comes in second, or comes in dead last. This is not an inherent problem with pageants, or sports, or any activity. It's a problem with individual parents.

    Quote Originally Posted by spotty
    The image I have is that some girl Wendy goes to this contest with a certain idea about who she is and her place in the world, loses the contest, can comes out with a lesson that she is not as good as other people because of the way she looks.
    Ya, I would want to teach my child that! Sheesh!
    You bet that's a lesson I'd want my daughter to learn. I would want my daughter or son to know that they can't be the best at everything, and sometimes just trying is good enough. The number of times my father and mother let me fail so I could learn what I was good at was uncountable ... and I'm glad they did it for me. Otherwise, I might still be trying to become a rock star, soccer player, actor, world class chess player, race car driver, President of the United States, lawyer, etc. It's a fact of life that not everyone is good enough for every situation. Happy people know that and live within it - probably still challenging themselves to improve where they're weak.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    I'm starting a new thread about the importance of appearances, as I think that's a significant topic on its own, and probably a separate and more basic one than when confined to this subject specifically. Generally, I would agree with the main point of this thread, which is that some Child Beauty Pageants have gone too far with their pressures on the children who participate in them.
    So...

    I finaggled my way into being able to do a Philosophy minor. I blame you, ODN.


  7. #7
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aspoestertjie View Post
    I received an e-mail the other day, with faces of small little girls between the ages of maybe 3 and 6. All are very beautiful. All wearing make-up and of course their hair has been done by stylists.

    Most of you will be familiar with the beauty pageants that are held across America, especially for little girls.
    IMO, child beauty pageants, such as the kind shown in Little Miss Sunshine or the kind Jon Benet Ramsey apparently participated in are flat-out creepy. From what I can see, they take little girls and transform them into something that looks like grown women with make up and hairdos and so on. Why not let the girls in child beauty pageant look like children, not mature women?

  8. #8
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Socialgremlin View Post
    You bet that's a lesson I'd want my daughter to learn. I would want my daughter or son to know that they can't be the best at everything, and sometimes just trying is good enough....
    The contest isn't about trying something and working at it and becoming good at it, its about taking someone at a very young age and putting them in a situation where their "value" is measured by how "pretty" they are or by how much oooooh and aaaaaah attention they can generate. What kind of person is this child going to grow up to be when they've based their whole self concept on how "pretty" or "cute" they are, or are not.
    Something the child can do very little to change anyway.

    Bad idea.

  9. #9
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by spotty
    The contest isn't about trying something and working at it and becoming good at it, its about taking someone at a very young age and putting them in a situation where their "value" is measured by how "pretty" they are or by how much oooooh and aaaaaah attention they can generate.
    I highly doubt that the young girls are just being thrown up there without make-up, chosen outfits, or a talent (as most pageants do have a talent portion). Beauty does require effort, so pageants are about working at something... particularly looking good.

    Hopefully the parents will temper the value of "pretty" and "cute" with... um... parenting. But the lesson that you can't be the best at everything - especially when it relates to things you can't control, like "beauty" - is a valuable lesson.

    Using your logic, sports aren't a good idea because a child's self-concept could be based on hand/eye coordination, height, and weight; and if they're found lacking in those areas, that would be a terrible ordeal.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Socialgremlin View Post
    Using your logic, sports aren't a good idea because a child's self-concept could be based on hand/eye coordination, height, and weight; and if they're found lacking in those areas, that would be a terrible ordeal.
    It was. And I suffered a lot of mocking and abuse because of it. And it didn't make me (or my nerdy friends) better or stronger, it made us bitter and angry.
    This theory that hardship is ALWAYS good for you because it makes you stronger is crap. Sometimes it makes you weaker, sonetimes it destroys you.
    I know plenty of adults still carrying esteem issues around from damage they suffered in their childhood years.

  11. #11
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hope View Post
    1 - Competition can be good, in theory. Self-sufficiency and a healthy amount of self-respect, as well as respect for others who do better. Dealing with pressure (although they could be a bit young to take it on at these levels). If "beauty" is judged differently than it is in adult beauty pageants, then go for it... appearances do matter in the real world, after all. My problem is when they make 7-year-olds up to look like they are 19 or 22.
    Competition is good Hope, but when competitions reaches unhealthy levels, it is no more fun. I am of the opinion that these competitions put children of that age under unnecessary strain and stress.

    Sure they can learn self sufficiency, self-respect etc.... but that they can learn at home too, or even in more "healthy" competitions.

    Why do you need to make a child look like an adult. Is looking natural not the better option? Is looking like a child when you are a child not better? In these pageants the girls are made to look like you said... 19 or 22... how healthy is that for a child?

    In my eyes every child must believe they are beautiful, no matter how they look, as they all are special.

    3 - Undoubtedly. The problem is that, at one point, these contests were designed as competitive displays of self-betterment. Then they switched over to competition for the sake of competition, and that made the whole mentality behind them go haywire.

    I would highly reccomend the film "Little Miss Sunshine" if you're looking for an art piece about this topic... the main plot revolves around a little girl and the pressures for her to win a beauty pageant like the one we are talking about here. In the end we learn that, like you were saying, Aspoestertjie, it's better to let little girls be little girls.
    I certainly agree to it going haywire. I did see that movie too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Socialgremlin View Post
    1. Girls 3 - 6 years old tend to like playing dress up. These contests give them a chance to bond with their moms, ...
    In what way does it make them "bond" with their moms?

    2. No. And why is that even important? After all, can't little girls just be little girls without needing to learn some grand lesson about life, sexuality, beauty, competition, etc?
    Learning is part of every day life Gremlin. These children learn that looking pretty and being thin is the only way you will be accepted in society. It is a very unhealthy approach. Little girls of that age can't possibly be emotionally strong enough to handle rejection on a regular basis, especially not if their moms push them into participation.

    3. Define ridiculous. I'm sure there are anecdotes of obsessive parents who take pride in their young girl's successes as if they somehow are better parents because of it. I'm just as sure there are some parents who use the pageants as a fun activity and could care less if their daughter wins, comes in second, or comes in dead last. This is not an inherent problem with pageants, or sports, or any activity. It's a problem with individual parents.
    Ridiculous in this case is making them wear make-up, and let hair stylists do their hair.

    The competitions will be much healthier if they judge all participants on how they look "like children", not mini adults. Sure many parents do it for the fun, but there are those who push their children way too much.

    You bet that's a lesson I'd want my daughter to learn. I would want my daughter or son to know that they can't be the best at everything, and sometimes just trying is good enough. The number of times my father and mother let me fail so I could learn what I was good at was uncountable ... and I'm glad they did it for me. Otherwise, I might still be trying to become a rock star, soccer player, actor, world class chess player, race car driver, President of the United States, lawyer, etc. It's a fact of life that not everyone is good enough for every situation. Happy people know that and live within it - probably still challenging themselves to improve where they're weak.
    There is a difference in letting children participate in competitions for fun, and to participate to make them feel worthy. Making them wear make-up and dress up in whatever strange clothes they do wear, will most likely make them feel they only worth something when they look good. A kind of shallow message you want to carry over, isn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    Why not let the girls in child beauty pageant look like children, not mature women?
    My point exactly Mican.
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  12. #12
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aspoestertjie
    In my eyes every child must believe they are beautiful, no matter how they look, as they all are special.
    Agreed... mostly. Self-esteem is important, especially in the developing years.

    I have some hunch, though, that "everyone is special" is a load of crap, and can actually lead to an unhealthy complacency; something along the lines of "I'm special, I don't need to work hard at self-improvement because I'm already amazing".
    So...

    I finaggled my way into being able to do a Philosophy minor. I blame you, ODN.


  13. #13
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hope View Post
    Agreed... mostly. Self-esteem is important, especially in the developing years.

    I have some hunch, though, that "everyone is special" is a load of crap, and can actually lead to an unhealthy complacency; something along the lines of "I'm special, I don't need to work hard at self-improvement because I'm already amazing".
    Well aren't you playing extereme ends of the numberline here. My dad is famous for that, if you say ANYTHING good, the person will become a lazy complacent slug, better to keep them feeling like crap so they always are desparately trying to improve themselves

  14. #14
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by spotty
    Well aren't you playing extereme ends of the numberline here. My dad is famous for that, if you say ANYTHING good, the person will become a lazy complacent slug, better to keep them feeling like crap so they always are desparately trying to improve themselves
    That's not what I was saying at all. In fact, positive reinforcement is probably the best tool to good parenting/teaching/anything related to bringing up kids. The trouble is that it is also the most misused.

    Why should we tell everyone that they are "doing fine" in math class, if not everyone has the same ability in math? Why should we tell everyone that they are "good enough" at sports, when clearly not everyone is?

    We should be giving specific, constructive compliments, just as we should give specific, constructive criticism. If the kid is good at math, encourage them to pursue math. If the kid is good at (insert area here), then encourage them to pursue it. This will make it more enjoyable for the child, as well.

    We should also give children tangible benefits to their hard work. This is one of my biggest sticking points. If a kid has clearly earned a reward, why do they get stuck with a letter on a piece of paper, or a silly verbal affirmation. Shouldn't they be awarded new priveleges, freedoms, etc.? Even "awards" don't really cut it, since nothing really changes for the kid as a result of their work.

    I've been working hard at school for the last 12 years of my life, and only now (8 years after I skipped a grade) am I finally seeing real benefits to having done so, through scholarships, the freedom to move away from my parents, etc., etc. And I was absolutely miserable for most of high school because nothing I did seemed to make any difference to how my life was going at the time.

    Shouldn't we be teaching kids that through hard work and utilizing your own set of skills you can improve your quality of life? All they learn now, with the way things are, is that you should work hard even though there's no benefit to anyone, because your teacher/parent/other authority figure told you so.
    So...

    I finaggled my way into being able to do a Philosophy minor. I blame you, ODN.


  15. #15
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    In a general sense, I don't really disagree with what you are saying. Its when it concerns a pageant that I object.

    Shouldn't we be teaching kids that through hard work and utilizing your own set of skills you can improve your quality of life?
    There's no hard work or skills with a pageant. Its all about other people putting makeup on you, and then you walking out on a stage and looking cute. And if you look cuter than the girl next to you, you get a trophy proving you are better than her because of the way you look.

    And guess what, looks fade with age, and then what is the kid/adult gonna fall back on for their confidence and self esteem?

  16. #16
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by aspoestertjie
    In what way does it make them "bond" with their moms?
    A parent or guardian has to be involved in the pageant process, thus the child and parent are doing something together - which is typically considered bonding. It's not like the mom (and I admit I was generalizing that it's typically the mom being involved with pageantry) just hands her daughter over to a professional and says, "Here you go" in every situation. If you have an anecdotal example where that does happen, you'd have to prove it was an inherent part of pageants and not just bad parenting.

    Quote Originally Posted by aspoestertjie
    Learning is part of every day life Gremlin. These children learn that looking pretty and being thin is the only way you will be accepted in society. It is a very unhealthy approach. Little girls of that age can't possibly be emotionally strong enough to handle rejection on a regular basis, especially not if their moms push them into participation.
    You might have missed my point of when people use the phrase, "why can't kids just be kids" in my original post. You can't say, "Kids should just be kids and not be in pageants" and disallow me to say, "Kids should just be kids and not have to worry about learning a life lesson." It would be like saying that kids should be allowed to play with blocks, but only until someone else could see the blocks and criticize them. Then playing with blocks would be bad.

    I'd like you to support your claim that pageants teach girls that the ONLY way to be accepted in society is to look pretty. Again... most pageants have talent segments, so at the very least, pageants are showing that you need to look pretty AND be good at an artistic talent.

    Quote Originally Posted by aspoestertjie
    Ridiculous in this case is making them wear make-up, and let hair stylists do their hair.
    I don't find that ridiculous at all. My sister was trying to use my mother's make-up at the age of three. My mother taught her how to do it properly at the age of four so that my sister wouldn't look like some possessed clown. And I'm sure you don't really believe that it's inherently wrong for girls to have a hair stylist... do you? Because if you do, I'd like to know exactly what age is acceptable for having nice hair styles?

    Quote Originally Posted by aspoestertjie
    Making them wear make-up and dress up in whatever strange clothes they do wear, and will most likely make them feel they only worth something when they look good. A shallow message you want to carry over, isn't it?
    Again, please support your claim that this message is inherently built into pageants and not a result of bad parenting. Just because I say, "The winner is Little Mary Joe" doesn't instantly mean I'm saying, "All you other girls are ugly little brats with no talent and aren't worth anything."

    Quote Originally Posted by spotty
    It was. And I suffered a lot of mocking and abuse because of it. And it didn't make me (or my nerdy friends) better or stronger, it made us bitter and angry.
    This theory that hardship is ALWAYS good for you because it makes you stronger is crap. Sometimes it makes you weaker, sonetimes it destroys you.
    I know plenty of adults still carrying esteem issues around from damage they suffered in their childhood years.
    And the theory that we can somehow protect children from feeling inferior EVER is just as much crap. I have my own esteem issues, also stemming from some of my failures in school - and I was just as much a nerd as you apparently were. However, to blame those esteem issues on the activity (sports, pageants, chess club, etc.) is narrow minded. The mocking and abuse you, and I, and thousands of others received are not inherently a part of the activities, they are a result of poor parenting, or bully attitudes by other children (which I would again chalk up to parenting before I attributed it to the activity).

    Quote Originally Posted by hope
    I have some hunch, though, that "everyone is special" is a load of crap, and can actually lead to an unhealthy complacency;
    I so agree. My favorite quotes from the movie, "The Incredibles" are:
    Mom - "Everyone is special, Dash."
    Dash - "Which just means no one is."

    At least I hope I quoted that correctly... but that's the main idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by spotty
    There's no hard work or skills with a pageant. Its all about other people putting makeup on you, and then you walking out on a stage and looking cute.
    You have not supported this claim. I have already said that pageants usually require a talent portion - singing, dancing, acting, drawing, whatever. If you can prove me wrong, then do so. Otherwise you must concede your argument that pageants do not require work or skill.
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spotty
    There's no hard work or skills with a pageant. Its all about other people putting makeup on you, and then you walking out on a stage and looking cute. And if you look cuter than the girl next to you, you get a trophy proving you are better than her because of the way you look.

    And guess what, looks fade with age, and then what is the kid/adult gonna fall back on for their confidence and self esteem?
    OK, so it's not a question of judging kids, but what we're judging them on?

    What sorts of competitions would you consider viable alternatives to beauty pageants, to teach kids to care about the right kinds of things? Or are you opposed to competition in general? I mean, no matter what the subject is, you're bound to have winners and losers: you're smarter, you're more athletic, you're better at (insert talent here).

    Quote Originally Posted by Spotty
    And guess what, looks fade with age, and then what is the kid/adult gonna fall back on for their confidence and self esteem?
    So does athleticism. Should we discourage sporting competition?
    So, unfortunately, does fluid intelligence. Should we not praise critical thinking, analysis, and logic skills?
    I don't think that "because it fades with age" is a conclusive reason to judge a skill or characteristic as unimportant.
    So...

    I finaggled my way into being able to do a Philosophy minor. I blame you, ODN.


  18. #18
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hope View Post
    Agreed... mostly. Self-esteem is important, especially in the developing years.

    I have some hunch, though, that "everyone is special" is a load of crap, and can actually lead to an unhealthy complacency; something along the lines of "I'm special, I don't need to work hard at self-improvement because I'm already amazing".
    Hope, just remember, we are talking about girls from 3 to 6 years old. It is the years in which a child's outlook on life and their personality is formed.

    I believe that there is absolutely no harm in making them feel that they are special at that age.

    Quote Originally Posted by Socialgremlin View Post
    A parent or guardian has to be involved in the pageant process, thus the child and parent are doing something together - which is typically considered bonding. It's not like the mom (and I admit I was generalizing that it's typically the mom being involved with pageantry) just hands her daughter over to a professional and says, "Here you go" in every situation. If you have an anecdotal example where that does happen, you'd have to prove it was an inherent part of pageants and not just bad parenting.
    I am sure there are moms who do try hard to maintain a healthy balance. Sometimes even trying to maintain that balance does not mean the competition is healthy. Sure moms do get to spend some time with their girls, and sure it is fun, but only to a certain extend.

    I'd like you to support your claim that pageants teach girls that the ONLY way to be accepted in society is to look pretty. Again... most pageants have talent segments, so at the very least, pageants are showing that you need to look pretty AND be good at an artistic talent.
    I don't agree that pageants teach girls ONLY that. Sure they do learn the joy of competition. The do feel what it is to win and what it is to loose... you never can have it both ways. However my concern is the impact these pageants have on their health and social development. I agree that children should be encouraged to participate in all kinds of sport and even pageants, yet there is a fine line between pressure your child and just encouragement.

    Here is some advice from a Toddler and Teenager Expert:-

    The long-standing and current overwhelming opinion in the psychology community concerning children's beauty pageants is that they are not in the best interests of healthy child development.
    "There are other things they're judged on besides their looks; it teaches them poise, it gives them confidence." But the hard fact remains they are called BEAUTY pageants and they have been and always will be based on using arbitrary standards of "beauty" to make one contestant better than all the rest.
    When I think of how fragile kids are as they try to find a place for themselves in this world, when I see the pain of kids (and their parents) struggling with eating disorders, when I hear teens beg me to convince their parents to let them get plastic surgery because they can't continue living looking so ugly (always compared to the popular media's presentation of what is beautiful), ...

    Are Beauty Pageants Bad for Children

    I don't find that ridiculous at all. My sister was trying to use my mother's make-up at the age of three. My mother taught her how to do it properly at the age of four so that my sister wouldn't look like some possessed clown. And I'm sure you don't really believe that it's inherently wrong for girls to have a hair stylist... do you? Because if you do, I'd like to know exactly what age is acceptable for having nice hair styles?
    No, there is absolutely nothing wrong with playing with it. There is also absolutely nothing wrong for a child to have a hair stylist, but where do you draw the line? Participating in these pageants on a regular basis will mean these children are constantly wearing make-up and stylists doing their hair for them. There is a huge difference between a little girl playing with her mothers make-up and doing it for fun, and a child doing it for competition.

    What is wrong with a beauty pageant without make-up and without hair stylists? Should children not rather be encouraged to look after their "natural" attributes than trying to let them look like adults?

    Again, please support your claim that this message is inherently built into pageants and not a result of bad parenting. Just because I say, "The winner is Little Mary Joe" doesn't instantly mean I'm saying, "All you other girls are ugly little brats with no talent and aren't worth anything."
    I believe I supported my claim above already. Fact of the matter is, girls are bombarded with the idea that "looking good" is the only way to be successful in life, and it is a bunch of crap. These pageants obviously concentrate on the external value of a child, although they do display some talent too.

    It is too harsh to deliberately push these little girls into participation. I have a daughter of 5 years old....she never once expressed a wish to participate in such a competion...although we don't do it the American way here. Why not let a child decide if they want to participate or not? I am sure there are mothers that do let the child decide, but I am also sure there are those mothers that really push too hard.

    I so agree. My favorite quotes from the movie, "The Incredibles" are:
    Mom - "Everyone is special, Dash."
    Dash - "Which just means no one is."

    At least I hope I quoted that correctly... but that's the main idea.
    What is wrong to make a 3 to 6 year old girl believe that she is special? Is it wrong to make her feel good and build her self esteem? Remember I am talking about small little girls, not older children or even teenagers.
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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aspoestertije
    I am looking for someone who will make me believe that there is in fact a good reason for having contests like this.
    OK; I will try to demonstrate that i) beauty contests potentially have something of value, ii) beauty contests are not inherently bad. Combining both of these might provide a good reason for continuing the contests.

    i) Beauty Contests have something of value, in the way of potential benefits.
    Educational
    a) Teach about competition: BCs teach children that with the possibility of victory comes a chance for loss; not only that, but the loser must accept and validate the winner's victory.
    b) Teach skills like dancing, acting, singing.
    c) Nurture self-belief, poise, confidence, extrovertedness, and naturalness in crowd; and provide experience coping with pressure,
    d) Teach value of beauty in society: BCs introduce children to some of society's conceptions of beauty. I am not arguing whether the conceptions are good or bad, but rather that knowledge and awareness of them is good.
    Social and emotional
    e) improve social life: children meet new friends; also, children might grow closer to their parents while preparing for the contests.
    f) enjoyable: children can have fun while preparing and participating in the contests. Especially since children usually enjoy dress-up and being a cynosure.
    Moral
    g) increase equality: some people, bereft of other gifts such as intellect or strength, might have only the gift of beauty. BCs allow such individuals to win the Beauty race, rather than fall behind in the Intellect or Strength race.


    ii) Beauty contests are not inherently bad. This is because the potential benefits outweigh the potential harms. Note: "Inherently" limits the scope of my argument to the concept of Beauty Contests. I am not dealing with how Beauty Contests are conducted in reality.

    I have already listed the potential benefits of BCs in (i). I will now address the harms presented in the thread:
    a) Unnecessary stress: but many other activities already cause stress; regardless, the stress in BCs is often justified given the benefits I listed above.
    b) deprives of childhood: but so what? what harm is there in making children do things outside what they have normally been associated with doing in childhood?
    c) children develop eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia: but this is an implementation problem. We should set up BCs such that they try to discourage these problems. Also, the impact of such disorders are too small to overturn the benefits I listed. In other words, millions of healthy children should not be prevented from participating in BCs, just because some children fell sick.
    d) children are often coerced by mothers: again, this is an implementation problem, and not a problem with the concept of BCs.
    Inculcates pernicious values
    e) children have negative self-image: this is a risk participants, like all competitors, must bear.
    f) instills wrong concept of beauty: but I disagree with you that natural beauty is superior to artificial beauty (i.e. with makeup). You also said that contestants overvalue beauty, and think that worth depends only on looking good... but this happens in only a few cases, and again, it's a risk participants must bear.
    g) BCs use wrong judging standards, by classifying children as mini-adults: but again I see nothing wrong here. Children emulate and pretend to be adults all the time anyway.

    (i) might outweigh the harms listed in (ii). I admit I've not thought it through.
    Last edited by Muse; April 26th, 2008 at 04:07 AM.

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    Re: Beauty Pageants: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Muse View Post
    OK; I will try to demonstrate that i) beauty contests potentially have something of value, ii) beauty contests are not inherently bad. Combining both of these might provide a good reason for continuing the contests.

    i) Beauty Contests have something of value, in the way of potential benefits.
    Educational
    a) Teach about competition: BCs teach children that with the possibility of victory comes a chance for loss; not only that, but the loser must accept and validate the winner's victory.
    That a child can learn in any competition. Put a child in a dance class, let her compete in dancing, the one who dances the best wins obviously. In beauty contests it is all about how you look, many times something you can not control, hence they let the children wear ridiculous amounts of make-up and let them look like adults.

    The lesson they learn is that depending on who's make-up is done the best and who's hair is looking the best, who has the prettier clothes.... it all is pretty shallow lessons still.

    In my opinion these contests are equivalent to letting a child who participates in athletics take drugs to enhance their performance.

    b) Teach skills like dancing, acting, singing.
    c) Nurture self-belief, poise, confidence, extrovertedness, and naturalness in crowd; and provide experience coping with pressure,
    Again, you can do all those without the "beauty" attribute. You can learn all those things without competing in beauty contests. The level these competitions reached is truly ridiculous.

    d) Teach value of beauty in society: BCs introduce children to some of society's conceptions of beauty. I am not arguing whether the conceptions are good or bad, but rather that knowledge and awareness of them is good.
    This is where the problems begin. It teaches them that society reject those that are not as beautiful as they are. These girls are way too young to be exposed to these levels of stress. Sure it is good to make them aware, so can every mother do in the privacy of their home. This is more exploitation than anything else if you ask me.

    Social and emotional
    e) improve social life: children meet new friends; also, children might grow closer to their parents while preparing for the contests.
    Yes, it is true, but the possibility of children being pushed too hard to compete in these contests are also there. One can say the chances are 50/50 that that they actually benefit a great deal out of it and they might as well grow further away from their parents.

    f) enjoyable: children can have fun while preparing and participating in the contests. Especially since children usually enjoy dress-up and being a cynosure.
    How sure are you that it is always "enjoyable". Sure a child likes to play dress up. They also do grow tired of doing the same thing over and over again.

    Moral
    g) increase equality: some people, bereft of other gifts such as intellect or strength, might have only the gift of beauty. BCs allow such individuals to win the Beauty race, rather than fall behind in the Intellect or Strength race.
    Sure they can compete in the "beauty" race, why do they need to look like adults when doing it?

    ii) Beauty contests are not inherently bad. This is because the potential benefits outweigh the potential harms. Note: "Inherently" limits the scope of my argument to the concept of Beauty Contests. I am not dealing with how Beauty Contests are conducted in reality.
    No they are not inherently bad. But there is definitely a problem with the way it is conducted.

    I have already listed the potential benefits of BCs in (i). I will now address the harms presented in the thread:
    a) Unnecessary stress: but many other activities already cause stress; regardless, the stress in BCs is often justified given the benefits I listed above.
    These pageants also sometimes offer huge cash prizes to those who will win. That in itself can indirectly cause parents to pressure their children in participating. Why not have a competition without the cash prizes? These competitions are not only about winning but more than that.

    b) deprives of childhood: but so what? what harm is there in making children do things outside what they have normally been associated with doing in childhood?
    Adults are exploiting these children unnecessary. There are the extreme cases like the one with Ramsey. A girl who looked like a mature woman was killed and sexually assaulted.
    Reflections on the Ramsey Case: Pageant News Bureau

    It is not a good idea for a child that young to look like an adult...period.

    c) children develop eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia: but this is an implementation problem. We should set up BCs such that they try to discourage these problems. Also, the impact of such disorders are too small to overturn the benefits I listed. In other words, millions of healthy children should not be prevented from participating in BCs, just because some children fell sick.
    Unfortunately eating disorders are costly and it starts at an early age and it extends way into adulthood. Just consider the statistics:-

    In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Approximately 25 million more are struggling with binge eating disorder (Crowther et al., 1992; Fairburn et al., 1993; Gordon, 1990; Hoek, 1995; Shisslak et al., 1995).

    For females between fifteen to twenty-four years old who suffer from anorexia nervosa, the mortality rate associated with the illness is twelve times higher than the death rate of ALL other causes of death (Sullivan,1995).Anorexia nervosa has the highest premature fatality rate of any mental illness (Sullivan, 1995).

    The incidence of bulimia in 10-39 year old women TRIPLED between 1988 and 1993.

    In 2005, the National Institutes of Health estimates funding the following disorders accordingly:
    IllnessPrevalenceNIH Research Funds (2005)Eating disorders:10 million

    National Eating Disorders Association

    d) children are often coerced by mothers: again, this is an implementation problem, and not a problem with the concept of BCs.
    It is a problem that goes hand in hand with competitions of this nature. It usually is about "my child is looking better than yours" and the competition is more between the mothers behind the scenes as between the children, yet they are the ones paying the price.

    Inculcates pernicious values
    e) children have negative self-image: this is a risk participants, like all competitors, must bear.
    It reached unnecessary levels. Sure it is okay to to expose them, but is it okay to exploit them?

    f) instills wrong concept of beauty: but I disagree with you that natural beauty is superior to artificial beauty (i.e. with makeup). You also said that contestants overvalue beauty, and think that worth depends only on looking good... but this happens in only a few cases, and again, it's a risk participants must bear.
    g) BCs use wrong judging standards, by classifying children as mini-adults: but again I see nothing wrong here. Children emulate and pretend to be adults all the time anyway.
    Natural beauty is suppose to be superior to artificial beauty in especially children beauty pageants. Why do you need to make a child who is already beautiful to look like an adult?

    Sure children emulate and pretend..... beauty pageants however crosses the line.

    Are the following images normal?



    Last edited by Aspoestertjie; April 26th, 2008 at 07:21 AM. Reason: Adding pictures
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