“Children are the fastest growing
segment of the beauty pageant market with annual children’s competitions
attracting an estimated three million children, mostly girls, from the ages of
six months to 16 years who compete for crowns and cash” (Schultz & Murphy).
Usually, a child beauty pageant contest will consist in a round of beauty,
where the child will be evaluated in their personality, confidence, appearance
and runway, the second round consist of a outfit of choice, and then a talent
round in which the contestants will present a gift such as singing, dancing,
acting, etcetera. The second and third round may vary, in other words it could
consist of other themes, it depends of the beauty pageant organizer. These
pageants give, to the girls, an opportunity to bring out the best in them and
at the same time outgrowing their self confidence. Moreover, child beauty
pageants have changed over the years with children going further and further to
look more attractive, taking away the innocence, and depriving the girls to
enjoy being young and to be free at a young age. There are far more harmful
elements of a pageant than helpful, which leads to fake appearances, to
negative attitude and the sexualization of young girls.

            As a child it has become custom to
explore in our mom’s world, using their high heels and modeling with them, then
putting some makeup and dressing up with their clothes. However, in the beauty
pageants industry it is different because the child does not have the same
freedom of choice making. When it comes to pageant young girls are transform
from head to toes, based on wearing short puffy sparkling rhinestone dresses,
hair pieces (such like hair extensions), fake nails, spray tan, professional
makeup, and “flippers,” which are false teeth used to cap missing
front teeth. Transforming your five year old daughter to resemble a 20 year old
woman is different to playing with mommy’s make up and dressing up. “Dress up
is a sign of a child identifying with or mimicking the mother” (Wiehe), which
is significantly dissimilar from the concept of child beauty pageants. Meanwhile,
some parents still say that child beauty pageants are like playing dress up.
According to Wiehe, “dress up generally is an activity engaged in by young girl
alone or with a group of playmates at home rather than on a stage in front of
an audience.” But playing dress up on the pageant stage costs parents
financially.  Eden Wood’s mom, Mickie, is
an example of a parent who have invested a lot of money in this contest, “I
have invested in pageant around sixty-five to seven thousand dollars” (7:41-7:56). Parents
spend a great deal of money and usually does not receive half of it back. The point is that such costs
should not be allowed in a competition that should focus on the natural beauty
of the contestants and not the creation of a falsehood or transform beauty of a
child.

One
of the main concerns is that pageants push the girls into the realm of
sexuality, long before their time, “the sexualization of girls is happening at
a younger and younger age as children, even toddlers, are bombarded with a
plethora of adult influences and perceptions, studies say” (Morgan). “Beauty
pageants are exploitative, pressuring children to adopt sexualized adult
mannerism that they do not fully understand and enforcing the message that
physical appearance is all important” (Day). Sexualization takes place on stage
when the young girls are transformed to resemble a woman, to manifest how
pretty they are, and when they must do playful but provoking routines to grab
the attention of not only judges but the audience. “Essentially, young pageant
girls are trained to flirt and exploit their nascent sexuality in order to win”
(Lieberman). Schultz & Murphy confirms that, “some experts argue that it
can be harmful to girls, teaching them that their self-worth is measured by how
pretty they are.” Nowadays, all this is typical of a child beauty contest yet
many in the pageant industry insist is it a harmless entertainment which leads
to an increase of confidence and self-esteem on young girls.

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For
years, the main controversy it has been if child beauty pageants are good for
the young girls. Mostly, the main argument is that promotes the encounter of
confidence and increase in self-esteem, also that is fun for the children. Regardless,
in order to win, the child has to dedicate hours of practice to obtain perfect
routines depriving the kid of enjoying some time with other kids their age.
Also, it could be exhausting and agonizing for the child, while for the parent
unpleasant financially. It is true that child beauty pageant leads to confidence
and high self-esteem yet the child could become shallow or overconfident by
establishing to much attention on their physical beauty. If win more often than
lose, the child could become spoiled or even egocentric, however if they do not
win could develop insecurities.

Child
beauty pageants could promote self confidence in little girls. But there are
far more harmful elements of a pageant than helpful, which leads to fake
appearances, to negative attitude and the sexualization of young girls. These
beauty contests deprive the little girls from being little because to accomplish
the pageants requirements they must transform the young girl to resemble a
woman, in order to win. Importantly taking away their innocence every time they
must do provocative routines to be more attention grabbing for the audience and
judges. These young girls do not have the knowledge of what they are getting
into. Do not know they are riding up to a lifestyle that takes away a normal
and free childhood. They need to spend more time to themselves other than
focusing on being a young woman and getting a perfect routine. They should be
out there having a beautiful a memorable childhood by being creative and
enjoying life. 

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