In one way or another, society has been setting the standards of what being beautiful is. Luckily today, people are more open-minded and are more aggressive in encouraging each person to love and accept their own definition of beauty. It is no wonder that various types of ‘beauty’ pageants are organized and are becoming more popular. One popular beauty contest that has been going on for several decades already is child pageants. These events allow young girls, and even sometimes boys, to compete for the title and crown.
Some say this type of contest is good for kids because they get to develop their personalities and gain confidence at a young age. However, critics argue that these pageants can negatively affect children psychologically, emotionally, and even physically. If you don’t know where you stand on the matter yet, get to know some of the pros and cons of child beauty pageants to help you weigh the issue better.
List of Pros of Child Beauty Pageants
1. They help build a child’s character.
These kinds of contests usually train a child how to have stage presence, showcase a talent, and practice their communication skills. This can be helpful for some shy kids to gain more confidence. Children will also get to socialize and focus their energies and time on a more ‘positive’ activity rather than just watching TV or being hooked to a computer the whole day. They can also learn about friendly competition, being a graceful winner or participant, and to set their eyes on a goal or prize.
2. They provide opportunities.
Winners of child pageants usually receive scholarships and other financial prizes. This can be a great opportunity for kids to start saving for their education. Aside from the monetary rewards, some children might also be tapped as commercial models or offered jobs in the entertainment industry. If your child also happens to love the limelight and performing, these competitions can be a great avenue for showcasing her talents.
3. They expose kids to the world out there.
Participants of such contests will most likely have to travel to different towns, cities, or states to join. They will also be meeting and interacting with children and adults from all walks of life. This can be a great way for kids to see more of the world and become more open-minded individuals. Aside from that, they can learn from a young age that you cannot win at everything in the real world as there will be times you don’t get the grand prize. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the experience and still be happy.
List of Cons of Child Beauty Pageants
1. They ‘force’ a child to grow up more quickly.
Most child pageants require contestants to wear heavy makeup and inappropriate clothing that are more suitable for adults. There are some pageants today that let participants wear more appropriate costumes and clothes, but most child beauty contests require the young contestants to wear swimsuits, long gowns, and shoes with heels. Also, some parents want their kids to spend most of their time practicing, traveling, and preparing for the competition so they might not have enough time to play and just be a kid. This can affect their youthful years and might even push them to want to become an adult earlier than they should.
2. They can be physically, emotionally, and psychologically draining.
Training and rehearsals for child pageants demand a lot of time and energy, and the pageant day itself can proceed for many hours. Plus, contestants have to travel a lot. They might not get enough quality sleep and rest while on the road and during the competition. This can exhaust kids and affect their mood and growth. Aside from the physical demands, children might feel pressured by their parents to win and feel like a disappointment if they lose. Also, they can question their self-worth and lose confidence and appreciation for their uniqueness if they feel they do not meet the pageant’s and judges’ standards of beauty. This can lead to depression and low self-esteem, aside from other problems.
3. They expose kids to harm and abuse.
Since child beauty contests are public events, the children who join area easily exposed and can be put in dangerous situations. For example, they can become easy prey for sexual predators, especially because some events are covered by the media and the pictures or videos of the kids can easily be circulated online by anyone who is watching the competition. Aside from that, there are parents who tend to reflect their personal ambitions on their children. The dreams and goals that they weren’t able to achieve will be passed on to their kids, whom they will pressure and push to make sure they win and bring pride to their parents. Another problem is being exposed to bullying. It can’t be helped that other contestants might feel they are better than the other participants and will try to make their competition feel inferior or insecure. Children learn about harboring jealousy and hatred, as well as forming unfair biases or judgments on other people. Other times they can become the bully themselves, especially when they feel they are more attractive, talented, and special than their classmates or peers.
Child beauty pageants can be friendly and fun events if organizers make sure to have proper guidelines for maintaining and promoting the security, camaraderie, and good values of kids. They should also have strict rules on the appropriate attire and behavior for contestants and even for the parents and adults involved in the competition. However, there are no set laws on how child pageants should be carried out so organizers have quite the freedom on the show and guidelines.
It is up to the parents to decide if they will allow their children to join beauty contests. And if they ever do, they will hopefully make sure that they will protect their kids from pageants that can do more harm rather than good to the young contestants.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.