Teaching girls their value is in their physical beauty
Many readers will have seen the documentary Toddlers and Tiaras revealing the child exploitation that is the US beauty pageant industry. A five year old begging not to have her eyebrows ripped out. Little girls preening, strutting, pouting, beckoning to the judges ‘come here baby’, kissing their finger and pressing it to their backsides in a gesture indicating they are smoking hot, the suggestive dance routines and sexualised costumes, parents investing thousands of dollars to turn their daughters into big haired, grotesquely made-up sexy dolls. In the words of Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals:
Teaching young girls a very narrow version of beauty, transforming their bodies so that their beauty can be measured and judged, or to use their sexualized bodies to earn money for the family is disgusting…When you add to this the chemically dangerous spray tans, butt glue, nail glue, eyelash glue, hairspray, and cosmetics applied to these tiny, developing bodies, it is not a stretch to say these pageant programs are both emotionally and physically abusive.
I can’t think that any more. Because this toxic pageant culture is on its way to Australia. Universal Royalty Beauty Pageants will open for business in Melbourne in July.
Optional extras include tanning, dressing like a celebrity for $50 and a photo and autograph session with American beauty pageant star, five-year-old Eden Wood…
Melbourne-based Kristin Kyle, helping organise the event, said it was already attracting interest from across Australia and New Zealand. The winner will take home a laptop, a rhinestone crown, a 1.5m trophy, an “official supreme royalty banner” and a stuffed teddy bear.
In its marketing material, the event claims to foster a “positive, fun-filled atmosphere” by encouraging self-confidence, education and “striving to be your very best”.
Making girls conform to stereotyped norms of female beauty
Here’s what I had to say about child beauty pageants on Channel 7’s Morning Show today. Naturally I disagreed with the pageant mum who said it was about “Playing Barbies” and “It’s what girls should do” and the Sunshine Coast pageant organiser who likened pageants to “sport” and said they were about being “beautiful and having fun”.
Collective Shout is planning action against child beauty pageants in Australia. Check the website for details and updates.