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What is it you think of when someone asks you “what is beauty”? Is it the glamorous makeup, the skinny figure, the perfect smile or is it someone’s characteristics and personality? Simply Googling the term “beauty pageants UK coming up”, nearly 18,000,000 results will appear in 0.50 seconds. There’s a lot of information relating to beauty pageants, but is this a good thing?
By giving young people a bleached white smile and an expensive outfit to look aspire to, predominantly young women and girls around the world are being presented with a false sense of what is important by teaching people to hate how they look, based on the fact that they don’t look like Miss Universe.
Beauty pageants are based on looks despite the now inclusion of a talent or community / charity section. How someone appears, what they wear and how they present them self are the main focus of any beauty pageant. Personal accomplishments, intellect, and personality are not as important as how contestants are ‘seen’ by the public. Pageants are superficial and set up the competitors for failure and unrealistic expectations. Nobody can reach the sense of perfection that is set by the pageant judges, the bar will never be reached.
So, in a way, beauty pageants and other similar ‘competitions’ that judge people on how close they are to the goal of perfection are directly linked to unhappiness. Competitors may never become comfortable in their own skin because they are not the exact image of a model in a magazine or the winner of the top beauty pageants, and this allows for people to be judged harshly in the everyday as well. Us as individuals fail to notice these set standards for beauty that are in our everyday lives, but that does not mean that these standards are right. This may never change, but beauty pageants are not helping it go away or become less prevalent.
The world of spray tans, makeup, big hair, and swimsuits can also be the reality for some children under the age of six. Children who are entering pageants as ‘aspiring’ beauty queens tend to be pressured by their parents. According to the article entitled, “The child beauty-pageant queens who grew up”, mothers hire make-up artists just to apply make-up on their daughter’s faces. And these girls cannot do anything about it because it is their parent’s will, and they are not old enough to make their own decisions.
Some parents believe that they are helping their child by entering them into these competitions, by saying that they are building self-esteem and confidence – even stating that their child wants to do it. Many young girls like to pretend to be a princess when they’re young, but this doesn’t mean they should be parading on a stage in front of a hall full of strangers.
During these events, young girls often get on the stage wearing skimpy clothes with full faces of make-up and shaking their bums whilst making pouty faces. This is not only inappropriate for young children it can sexualize young girls into being someone they aren’t. As many pageants are free events, this can lead to the risk that some of the people watching, that aren’t actually involved in the pageant, are preying on these young girls, as they know what goes on throughout the event.
Fierce competition also exposes young girls/boys to extreme pressures at a young age. When not handled properly this can cause a child to fail miserably – thinking they’ve done something wrong or that they’re not perfect enough when they don’t win. Joining beauty contests at such young ages subjects children to extremely strict routines and schedules, meaning that they are prone to missing out on valuable school lessons and all the ‘kid’ stuff you experience when growing up.
Young children endure long makeup sessions, trips to buy clothes for their wardrobe, wearing inappropriate heels, physically staying in shape (even though they are not fully developed yet), going to a pageant coach to go over the same “exciting” routine multiple times a day, exposing their young bodies to inappropriate clothing and taking harsh criticism from their own parents. Is this and more really worth a crown and a bit of cash? Does this really teach children life lessons, respect and how to live their life?
Everyone has a different perception of what is considered beautiful. There aren’t set standards on what makes one person pretty and what doesn’t make another person pretty. Beauty pageants just create an unrealistic expectation for competitors that if they aren’t thin enough, physically perfect enough, then the judges will pick someone who is, in their eyes…more beautiful.
A small study made by psychologists in 2008 found that former beauty contestants have higher body dissatisfaction than people who did not take part in pageants. These extreme contests lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Self-esteem, dieting, and body image of 131 female beauty pageant contestants from America were examined by an anonymous survey. (26%) of the women had been told that they had an eating disorder which reportedly began at 16.25 years. Almost half (48.5%) reported wanting to be thinner and 57% were trying to lose weight, despite being already in good shape.
Some see the body image and shape as an ‘idea’ as they believe that physical appearance is the only way to win a pageant. In addition, this is also seen as a way to discouraging plus-size girls from entering these competitions. Many pageants have wardrobe collections that are to be worm by competitors, and plus sized girls and women won’t be able to fit into these items. If a drastic 30 pounds has to be lost to fit into a pageant dress, is that harmful or helpful? Beauty Pageants are competitions based solely on beauty and an outer appearance no matter what any judge says.
Throughout the beauty pageant process, women and young girls transform themselves into what they think is perfect and can often resemble a doll or Barbie. By trying to promote unachievable expectations, these competitions have a harmful effect on women and young girls worldwide. Beauty pageants cause women to second guess their appearance and the type of person that they aspire to be in the future by making them behave a certain way to be approved.
Beauty pageants have a harmful effect on a woman and cause many to lead lives with depression, eating disorders, and or a desire for cosmetic surgery. Young girls are exploited by parents and are taught from a young age that if they don’t put on a fake smile with their fake teeth and make up then they won’t be perfect. Beauty pageants are not all glitz and glam. It’s time for them to stop.
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