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Child pageants cause more harm than good for our children. It’s estimated that 250,000 children compete in more than 5,000 pageants in the United States each year. That means that 250,000 children are being exposed to the psychological and physical effects of child pageants. Why would you want to put your child through an extreme amount of pressure just so they can win a trophy or a title? Sure participating in child pageants might get rid of your child’s stage fright, it might expose them to diversity or it might even help build character, but at the end of the day, it’s just not worth the hassle of the high fees, the long term effects and the pressure. Child pageants forces children to grow up fast and it is ruining their childhood. The frustration of not winning can have disastrous effects on your child’s body and mind, the effects of this can be depression, eating disorders and other psychological complications.
Firstly, kids who compete in child pageants are always in the public’s eye meaning that they are expected to look flawless and perfect at all times. Circumstances like these can lead to eating disorders at a young age; they will purposely stave themselves until they get to the acceptable weight. Mental health experts state that 8 out of 10, ten-year olds that live in the US have been on a diet. In the pageant industry children are expected to wear fitted dresses and other tightly fitted clothing meaning that they need to stay thin in order to fit into their clothing, therefore putting them under more stress than a child should go through. In competitions parents can sometimes pressure their children to go on a crash diet to fit into very small dresses. This is teaching young children the worst possible eating techniques very early on, increasing the chances of them developing an eating disorder later on in life. A 2005 study shows that children who take part in child pageants are more prone to trust issues and not being satisfied with their body.
Secondly, it can cost a lot of money to put your child through a child pageant. The cost can range between $300 and $5000 depending on the level of competition. Parents from the TV show ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ have confessed to spending over $30,000 on pageants for their children. There is a lot more to pay for than just a dress. Expenses that you would have to pay for are Participation fees, training programs, accommodation and hair and makeup services done by a professional. A pageant coach would roughly cost between $40 and $300 an hour and most people would go to 3 classes a week meaning it could cost up to $900 per week. The more you spend the more likely you are to win. There have even been cases of families going into debt or losing their homes because they would pawn off their personal items to cover the costs that the pageants required. Parents whose children are in beauty pageants would prefer to spend money on designer dresses than on their children’s education this is not acceptable. The fact that this is a $5 billion industry is unbelievable.
Lastly, children who participate in child pageants are often over sexualised. Their costumes make up and dances all focus on being sexy. Mental health experts state the fact that child pageants have the effect of sexualizing girls. The clothes that they are expected to wear are not meant for children. Revealing swimming costumes such as bikinis and evening gowns are inappropriate for children. During the talent part of the pageant, the contestants strut across the stage, winking, posing and twirling for the judges. The poses that the girls are taught are often sexual. By dressing up little girls in sexy outfits and parading them across the stage, we are creating unhealthy habits. By sexualising your children you are destroying your child’s sense of self-worth and beauty, causing long term damage. Sexualisation at a young age can cause intense body image problems. There have been some cases that judges have deducted points just because a contestant wasn’t wearing fake teeth! The children are made to get their eyebrows are plucked in order to be shaped, their hair styled and coloured and their teeth bleached. The fact that these mothers think that it is acceptable to bleach their child’s teeth or colour their natural hair is disgraceful.
In conclusion, child pageants do cause more harm than good to not only the contestants but to everyone involved in the pageant world. Everyone in the industry are effected. I personally think these types of things can have a knock on effect. It can start with the contestant, who is preforming, they look flawless, but they struggle with not being satisfied with their body, and there is a child watching them preform and they feel that they are not as pretty or thin as the contestant. High fees, eating disorders and over sexualising children are the main harmful points in child beauty pageants but they are not the only harmful things in the beauty pageant community.
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