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Tantrums & Taking Innocence

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Tantrums & Taking Innocence

Beauty pageants started in 1920 and became more popular around 1921. The winner was named Miss America. Since then Miss America pageants have been an annual event. Close to 1960, pageants were becoming so popular that a new pageant, Little Miss America, was created for those with younger children. On January 27, 2009 TLC aired a show called Toddlers & Tiaras. Since the airing of this show, more parents have added children to the pageant circuit to meet unmet childhood goals and willingly exploiting them. While it is okay to want to show off how cute a child is, should four-year-old children honestly be plastered with makeup and parade around in little bikinis? It is not okay to put this idea that beauty is most important in life in young children's minds. It is not okay to make young children grow up faster than they need to over a shiny tiara and maybe $1,000 in prize money. In doing these pageants children are exposed to stress and anxiety which can lead to bigger problems such as perfectionism or eating disorders. Not only that, young girls are exposed to their sexuality much sooner than little girls out playing in the neighborhood with no worries but who is "it" first. Aside from the harm done to children, consider the harm done to the family life. It is for these reasons that the exploiting of children through beauty pageants should be discussed to find out how to fix the problem.

Exploitation of children through beauty pageants needs to be addressed because of the emotional toll it plays on them. Brooke Breedwell, who started at age 5 and ended at age 12, says that she was a victim of stress and anxiety due to the surrounding idea that perfection was everything. "Pageants have put a lot of stress and anxiety on my life [...] I feel the need to be perfect at everything, and I know that's not realistic. You can't be perfect at everything." Nicole Hunter, also a former pageant contestant, notes that when she left the pageant world she suffered from anorexia nervosa. Throughout the day of the pageants children suffer from many mood swings. The children may get agitated and fussy due to all the pressures of the competition. On the July 27, 2011 episode of Toddlers & Tiaras, Wendy Dickey says she has put her 3-year-old daughter in "60 something" pageants. She then goes on to say that this is her, Wendy, hobby and calls her daughter a "little turd" (TV Guide). Paisley, daughter of Wendy, tells cameras that she would rather hunt and ride 4 wheelers than do pageants (TV Guide). Along with the mood swings there is the fact that in doing these pageants children will become jealous when another child does better than them or has a better looking outfit. These pageants may also expose children to their flaws much sooner than needed. William Pinsoff, a clinical psychologist and president of the Family Institute at Northwestern University, has said that focusing on perfecting one's looks at such a young age unleash[es] a whole complex of destructive self-experiences that can lead to eating disorders and all kinds of distortion in terms of body image. It may be argued that these pageants build confidence. However, they may build a child's confidence but at the cost of parents yelling, pushing and demanding the child do things a specific way from tanning of the skin to adding extensions to the hair.

Aside from the harm done to children one should also consider the harm to the family life. A pageant mom may spend anywhere from $50,000 on one pageant. She will spend money on a fancy dress, custom made bikini, pageant coach, tanning, fake hair, fake teeth , entry fees and the list goes on and on. Some pageant families will go as far as meeting needs for a child's pageants than meeting the needs at home such as rent or groceries. The parents are not the only ones to be blamed for this exploitation. The directors of these pageants should be held just as accountable. They receive quite a lovely payout at the end of each pageant. They charge a hefty entry fee that covers the venue price, the awards and trophies, the administrative costs and the company profits. Some would say that because a child has the potential to win monetary prizes, it is okay to spend that amount of money. Parents will spend all this money, running a child from here to there to win a mere couple thousand dollars, mostly in grants and scholarships, compared to the amount invested into the pageant. When one stops and really thinks about it, the prize money is nothing compared



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