Beauty Pageants Do Have A Negative A Effect On Some Participants Have you ever seen or heard of the popular TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras? If you haven’t it is a reality television show that contains children 12 and younger competing in beauty pageants for money, a crown, toys, or even animals! These young girls are, most of the time, forced by their mothers to endure hours of spray tanning, eyebrow waxing, hair teasing, lash gluing, and fake teeth to walk around half dressed to be in the running against other girls their age. This causes many negative repercussions in the long run whether first competing as a toddler or a teen.

“Contests to determine ‘who is the fairest of them all’ have been around at least since ancient Greece and the Judgment of Paris” (PBS 1). Greek goddesses bribed a poor mortal to settle a dispute between them. Their were also “contests of physiques” called euandrias that took place yearly at an Athenian festival. Fast forward to the 19th century where Phineas T. Barnum, of Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey circus, owned a dime museum of which his most popular attractions were national contests where children, flowers, and animals were judged and put on display for paying audiences.

Barnum then created a different type of beauty contest where contestants would submit photographs which were displayed in his museum and voted on by the public. This set the mark for the beauty pageant industry and became a more respectable way for females to compete in Robinson 2 pageants to be judged. Today, beauty pageants are highly recognized, as mentioned before, in shows such as Toddlers and Tiaras and live showings of national and world-wide pageants for women. In fact, pageants today are a multi-billion dollar industry!

They include girls and women from ages 6 months to 30 years old. “Many experts agree that participation in activities that focus on physical appearance at an early age can influence teen and/or adult self-esteem, body image, and self-worth” (Cartwright 14). Many struggle with self-identity after leaving the pageant industry which is very common. These struggles include issues with body image, perfection, eating disorders, and dieting which can follow them well on into adulthood. This doesn’t mean all young women who participate in pageants will have these problems, although many do.

In fact, a study conducted in 2005 showed that former childhood beauty pageant contestants had higher rates of body dissatisfaction. “For these kids, the constant ‘play acting’ may create hyper-competitive, shallow adults who are never satisfied; perhaps making them think, “Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending-performing. You get to love your pretence. It’s true, we’re locked in an image, an act-” Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors” (Cartwright 83).

Participating in beauty pageants allows children to believe that physical appearance is all that matters, and with the beauty pageant age of entry being younger and younger, children don’t realize that they can say no and, if they do, they’re overruled by their parents. It is important that there are restrictions on the skin exposure of participants in beauty pageants, age groups, and competition levels, and also vital that children and teens Robinson 3 know that beauty pageants are only for fun and that it shouldn’t define them.