The Negative Effects of Kids Beauty Contests

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1077 words

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One of the most popular TV Shows out there right now is “Toddlers in Tiaras.” According to Kristen Shamus in her article “Ugly Truth: TLC Show is an Abomination” published in 2010, this popular reality show entertains its 1.2 million viewers by exploiting child beauty pageant participants and their families. This show amuses their audience with dramatic tantrums, heated arguments, and outrageous attitudes. But, behind all this fun and games, are actual dangers that can distort the lives of pageant participants. These children have been taught that perfection and beauty is the only goal in life. According to PBS in their article “American Experience: Miss America” published in 2002, beauty pageants have been around since the 1920s. Since then, pageants have given women the idea of looser morals. However, stated in Cheryl Critchley’s article “everyone’s Winner, a Baby” published in 2011, child beauty pageants came around in the 60s.

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The rules in child beauty pageants are fairly simple. A child walks down a stage in an outfit suited for the assigned theme of each round. Each contestant must prepare sets of choreography and music for every round. There are several judges critiquing each participant. These judges consult with one another and tally up the score, announcing the winners of each division at the award ceremony held after the pageant.

Growing up, most of us have been taught the right morals and ideas that have benefited our lives today. Now it is our turn to teach the youth of today. However, teaching them to accept and follow a society that worries more about appearance than constructive ideas could cause a confusion of morals for our future generations. Child beauty pageants, especially, brainwash the fresh minds of our young and innocent to think that looks are the key to success. These pageants need to be shut down to prevent our future from accepting these ideas. In this speech I will be informing you about the problems caused by pageants, the cause of participating in pageants, and ways we can resolve these problems.

So first off, child pageantry causes many problems that affect both the child and their families. When a child is participating in a beauty pageant, it can cause them to have severe psychological problems that can affect their ideas about their body, personality, and self esteem. In Jessica Bennett’s article “Disney Princess and the Battle for your Daughter’s Soul” published in 2011, young girls have already begun to worry about being overweight. When a child participates in beauty pageants, it adds more pressure to look and act a certain way. According to Reist Tankard’s article “Pageants Reeking of Blatant Exploitation” published in 2012, pageants can cause a boost of denial in a girl’s relationship with others, her body, and her feelings. The lack of self-esteem can cause anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Participating in beauty pageants can also change a child’s natural psychological development. A child misses out on a normal childhood when they compete in beauty pageants. According to Rebecca Eder and her associates’ article “Is Winning a Pageant Worth a Lost Childhood?” published in 1997, participants of child beauty pageants can grow up confused with her behavior and emotions. Children are not yet sensitively ready for the outcomes beauty pageants. Beauty circuits send a bad message to its contestants. Being judged mainly by their appearance, young girls are getting the idea that the only way they are valued is if they show off their bodies. According to Karen Brook who wrote “Pageant Parents Set Ugly Example” published in 2011, contestants are encouraged to dance seductively and wear revealing costumes. Young girls get the idea that if they can act and look sexy they can gain fame and fortune.

Now, some of you may be wondering, “why would anyone allow a child to participate in such an appalling activity?” Well, PBS had said child beauty pageants were intended to express a child’s unique talent. However, this has transformed into a competition made more for the parent than the actual child. Karen Brooks wrote that a lot of parents are driven by the competition, giving them an opportunity to live through their child. Some parents could have had past insecurities that they pour out onto their child through these competitions. Pageants have made it easy for their participants to gain fame and fortune through shows like “Toddlers in Tiaras”. Scholarships, money, and prizes are offered at these events, giving people more of a reason to participate. While some parents may be driven by their own wants, others may also want to please their children, allowing them to enter these pageants so they could win toys and crowns.

So, I hope that most of you are realizing the dangers of pageantry. And if you are, I’m telling you there is a solution. I’m not saying that we can convince the whole country to stop participating in these pageants. However, we can help these young girls by supporting organizations that help victims of pageantry cope with their issues they developed while in pageants. Judy Mann wrote in her article “Beauty Pageants Deliver an Ugly Message” published in 1997, that there are organizations like Girls Inc. that encourage girls to build up their confidence and talents by supplying them with basic skills they need. Girls Inc. helps girls who have left the pageant life, and are now struggling to adapt to a normal life style. Girls Inc. teaches children to be involved with the community, join variety of activities, and help past beauty contestants develop their own ideas and talents. By donating and volunteering to places like Girls Inc., we could be one step closer to stopping child beauty pageants.

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In order for children to learn that they have value, variety of abilities and talents, they need to be surrounded by a safe and creative environment. A child that participates in beauty pageants can endanger her way of thinking and her ideas she will have in her future. Raising a child in an environment that lacks morals, and expresses poor life style choices can lead to severe consequences for a child in their future. Shutting down beauty pageants would spare the minds of many young innocent children of the idea of appearance over brains. Now, it’s up to you. Are you willing to just sit there while the future of America is being brainwashed into a fake society?

Works Cited

  1. Brooks, K. (2011). Pageant parents set ugly example. The Age.
  2. Critchley, C. (2011). Everyone's winner, a baby. Herald Sun.
  3. Eder, R., Harrington, E. F., & Skowronski, J. J. (1997). Is winning a pageant worth a lost childhood? Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, 2(1), 88-93.
  4. Mann, J. (1997). Beauty pageants deliver an ugly message. The Washington Post.
  5. PBS. (2002). American Experience: Miss America. PBS.
  6. Reist, M., & Tankard, R. (2012). Pageants reeking of blatant exploitation. Sydney Morning Herald.
  7. Shamus, K. (2010). Ugly truth: TLC show is an abomination. Detroit Free Press.
  8. Bennett, J. (2011). Disney princess and the battle for your daughter's soul. Newsweek.
  9. Girls Inc. (n.d.). Empowering girls: Our approach. Girls Inc.
  10. Miller, L. C., & Cox, C. L. (1982). Female body image as a function of themes in a pinup calendar. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 12(3), 237-248.
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The Negative Effects of Kids Beauty Contests. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 1, 2023, from
“The Negative Effects of Kids Beauty Contests.” GradesFixer, 26 Apr. 2019,
The Negative Effects of Kids Beauty Contests. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Oct. 2023].
The Negative Effects of Kids Beauty Contests [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 26 [cited 2023 Oct 1]. Available from:
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