Sunday, September 28, 2008

Debate: Child Beauty Pageants

Posted by Mandy at 12:32 PM
Here is this week's debate topic. It was brought on due to the pageant season and seeing all of the little princesses dolled up to ride on floats in our town's parade last week.

The question up for debate is:

Are beauty pageants harmful to children?

Remember the rules of debate.
- No anonymous comments. All anonymous comments must be ended with your name or they will be deleted.
- No attacking. Please state your opinion in a thoughtful and organized way that makes each reader think about what you are saying - not become offended and want to attack you back.
- Try to back up anything you state. If you can give first hand experiences with the debate topics, it will help your cause.
- Have fun! Debates are supposed to be thought-provoking and enjoyable. When debates turn into fights, the debate has ended and turned into something else. Stick to debate-format, please.

13 comments:

Jennifer on Sunday, 28 September, 2008 said...

I personally like putting my children in beauty pageants, but I do think they can become harmful for the ones who are forced to be in them. When children decide they do not want to do them, parents shouldn't force them to do so. This, can be damaging. Also, if a child gets way too upset when he or she loses in competitions like this, then it could be harmful too. Although in every competition, there has to be a winner and a loser, and children DO need to understand that they can't ALWAYS win everything. But beauty pageants just for fun and to show off your kiddos when the kiddos enjoy them also, win or lose, then I think they are perfectly fine to partake in.

Amanda and Justin Dreyer on Sunday, 28 September, 2008 said...

I kind of have first hand experience as my dad was the president of the Miss New Mexico pageant for 12 years (when I was 5-17) and I got to see a lot of the first hand, behind the scenes kind of stuff. My dad tried to push me into the pageant scene when I was younger, but I was a complete tomboy... I would cry if my mom tried to make me wear a dress. Anyway, I saw a lot of "stage parents" that pressured their kids to work harder, to be thinner, to look a certain way, and lots of tears. My first roommate in college was big into pageants and was bullemic. She just always talked about all the pressure to be thin and be this and that. I know this is a little different from little kid pageants, but I think any parent that pushes their child to do something they don't want to do and/or makes it more about winning than having fun is WRONG! If you have little girls and they like to play dress up and it's fun for them- great, let them take the lead, but without any pressure. I also think all this needs to be balanced by some bblical teaching about inner beauty b/c I've seen the "pageant world" give girls a very skewed picture of what true beauty is!

deepfriedpicklesandicecream.wordpress.com on Sunday, 28 September, 2008 said...

Well,personally,I think it depends.I was in a few beauty pageants when I was a very young child(in fact I still have some of the "prizes") but I dont recall being in them...LOL.My oldest girly was in a beauty pageant when she was not quite 2.It was an awful experience for me,but not really because of the pageant itself,that was due to other factors.Anyhow,the small town beauty pageants like the ones we host locally,I dont think are a big deal,and if a child wants to do them,then go for it!The pageants with flippers and extensions are a different thing.I dont specifically have anything against them and believe me,I have never been in one of that magnitude,but it looks like it is so hard on the kids.

Brittany on Monday, 29 September, 2008 said...

I have firsthand experience with beauty pageants. I was in several over the course of my childhood. But it was my choice. I saw my cousin compete in a couple and I knew that I wanted to do the same thing. Pageants did not harm me one bit. I was a terribly shy child and the combination of pageants, dance lessons, piano lessons, and voice lessons really helped to pull me out of my shell. Although, I feel that I need to add that we were a little picky about which pageants I was in. I didn't make the "festival pageant" circuit as a lot of young girls do. I did participate in my own town's pageants a few times, but we mainly chose pageants where, in addition to modeling, there were talent and interview categories as well.

My husband (who does not agree with pageants) would tell you that they are a waste of money (among other things). This may be true, but since I was the one who wanted to participate, we used MY money. I worked for my grandmother packing tomatoes every summer to earn money for pageants. Also, the main pageant system that I was a part of gave you the ability to raise your own pageant fees by selling adds and sponsorships for the program. I loved that part of my life, but I fazed the pageants out once I got to Junior high. I just didn't have the time for them anymore.

This being said, I doubt that if I have a daughter she will be in pageants. Unless she really wants to and can pay for it like I did. Like I said, my husband doesn't agree with them. And at this point in my life, I can understand why. It is a lot of money, for one thing. Also, they can send the wrong message. My mom did such a great job explaining to me that real beauty comes from within that I guess I never had a hard time the times I didn't win. It was all in good fun for us and I made tons of friends.

I guess I really don't have a "side". To sum it up: I enjoyed pageants as a child, they really helped me get out of my shyness and gain confidence, but I agree that they can send the wrong message. Parents just have to decide for themselves if this is something they want their daughters to be a part of and prepare them for it emotionally.

I don't think I'd be very good at a debate, since I basically just debated myself! lol.

Shelley on Monday, 29 September, 2008 said...

I did pageants with my kids until they were 2. Mostly because I liked to try and win photogenic... I did let Jordan do Little Miss Drew County at 5 yrs old, but I made sure my friend was waiting in the crowd with a crown and flowers "just incase!"
Although Jordan would LOVE the idea of doing them now, there is no way I would let her, because she is tooooo sensitive and it would hurt her. If she wants to later on, when I think she can handle a loss, we may do it. I think they can be a lot of fun, IF YOUR CHILD CAN TAKE IT. My friend Tara Jo used to do them with her daughter, Lexi, all the time, and Lex handled losing like a champ. My kid would not have been that way, so it wasn't worth it to me.

I think they can be VERY hard on some of the kids involved.

You just have to "know what your kid can handle" and if they don't enjoy it, I would not do it.

Mandy on Monday, 29 September, 2008 said...

I've really enjoyed reading all of the comments so far! It's made me think, for sure!

My entire family is pretty obsessed with pageants. All of my cousins and their little girls grew up doing them and mostly winning due to great training. However, I've also seen the devestation that can happen once the girl grows a little older and realizes that she doesn't win because she isn't "pretty enough."

I must admit, I made the conscious decision to not do beauty pageants with Madison when she was born. From the time she was an infant everyone pressured me to enter her into 'something' and I simply refused. I knew she was beautiful... why did I need others to valdiate that with a sash?

In my opinion, some kids will likely be able to do pageants, never win, and never care. But, as Shelley stated, there are a lot of others that will deeply internalize the loss. This is why, if I had to pick a side, I would pick the "harm" side.

In a world that beauty is already everything, and girls are starving themselves to be thinner, and thus prettier, I wonder what encouraging young girls to win contests based on how pretty they are will do to them in the long run.

In other types of contests you can display your special talents, like sports, dance, gymnastics, paino, etc... if you don't win, you can practise more and try again. It may hurt, but you have the ability to do it better next time. If the contest is based on your external beauty... how do you improve that for next year? How do you handle knowing that no matter how hard you tried to be the most beautiful, you just were still not good enough?

I think some kids will get their feelings hurt over losing ANY game or contest or not being the best at their craft. I do think that the focus being completely on how beautiful one is could turn bad and harmful.

Of course, things in moderation are very unlikely to cause harm. With cool-headed parents to guide them and know when to call it quits, I'm sure plenty of girls get a boost from simply dressing up and looking pretty on state - even without winning.

Sun-Kissed Savages on Monday, 29 September, 2008 said...

Not to go against the flow, but I would never let my daughter do a pageant. For one thing, she is very sensitive. She can handle losing, but not being looked at, judged, and then deemed "not good enough."

I've told her all of her life how important she is for WHO she is, not what she looks like, so it would seem counterproductive to then let her be judged by her appearance.

Like you said, though, everything in moderation is fine. If a child ENJOYS it, and they are allowed to quit when they are done, then I don't see a problem with it.
My aunt, however, became very wrapped up in it...like her own self-worth was on the line if her daughter didn't participate and didn't win. That can be traumatic for both the child and mother. And it seems to happen far too often.

I would also like to see my daughter remain innocent and "little" as long as possible. She doesn't need any make-up at this age!

All that said, each parent should make that decision based on the CHILD's feelings.

Ana on Monday, 29 September, 2008 said...

If I had a little girl I don't think I would put them in a pageant unless it was something they expressed a strong desire to do. I guess I have a little bit of a problem with girls building their self esteem and value on their looks and exterior image. Our culture is so saturated with media influence on our looks and it affects our young girls so much. with the high rates of anorecia (sp?) among young girls on the rise as they try to immulate their hollywood role models, I wish we would instill in our young women more sustaining values.

Jennifer on Monday, 29 September, 2008 said...

After reading, I do want to clarify one thing. Pageants aren't about just the beauty. It's actually stage presence (attitude), and attire. Because if you've been to as many pageants as I have and you didn't know anyone in them to be partial, you would realize that the prettiest little girl doesn't always win. I do agree that it depends on the kid for sure. Oh, also I didn't put my kiddos in pageants for someone to pick them as most beautiful (or handsome), but just to show them off..he he he...I know that's kind of lame, but hey what can I say? Aren't all of us mama's proud of our babies?

ZippyTheWerewolf said...

I toyed with the idea of pageants and modeling when my children were little and came to the conclusion that it was sending the wrong message. There are areas of the country that are more into it than where I live or perhaps I'm so out of the loop on this pageant thing, that it's relevance doesn't pertain to me or my children. It just seems to me that it's not the best way to show self esteem through beauty or talent and true value comes from less superficial means. I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but as a mother, believing my children to be the most beautiful on earth, this would be a blow to me. And I just think the mothers get into it by encouraging their children to. Otherwise how would the children know about it?

Anonymous said...

i think it is the most worst thing that you could possibly do to your child!

Anonymous said...

I toyed with the idea of pageants and modeling when my children were little and came to the conclusion that it was sending the wrong message. There are areas of the country that are more into it than where I live or perhaps I'm so out of the loop on this pageant thing, that it's relevance doesn't pertain to me or my children. It just seems to me that it's not the best way to show self esteem through beauty or talent and true value comes from less superficial means. I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but as a mother, believing my children to be the most beautiful on earth, this would be a blow to me. And I just think the mothers get into it by encouraging their children to. Otherwise how would the children know about it?

make it happen on Saturday, 30 July, 2011 said...

I think these pageants are nothing more than child exploitation and should be banned for children under the age of 16. Apart for them being corporate money making schemes, I also find it revolting that the mothers who support these events are so shallow that they believe they are not doing their children any harm by participating. If they want to spend quality time with their children, perhaps they should consider spending some time reading them Alice in wonderland at bedtime instead of spending large sums of money on outfits, cosmetics and all the trappings more suited to professional ladies of the night than children. Let kids be kids and give them your time and a childhood, they'll have enough time to be all grown up later.

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