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Child Beauty Pageants Essay

1673 words - 7 pages

The lights are intensely bright as they reflect off the stage, leaving numerous loud, edgy mothers in dim luminosity behind them. Six year old Cindy pounces into the rays of the spotlight with a sham smile, flaunting her rehearsed dance, facial expressions, and postures. She finishes with a brilliant beam and pose, thinking of how much she has gone through to be on that stage: the eye waxing, hair dying, extreme dieting, fake teeth, layers of make-up, clouds of hairspray, extensions that give her headaches throughout the day, and the hours of practice she is forced to execute. Up to three million child beauty contestants experience this scenario per year (O’Neill). Glitz beauty pageants exploit young children, teaching them that self-worth is in physical beauty only, while natural beauty pageants teach child contestants that natural beauty and personality is most important, encouraging them to be confident in who they are. Child contestants should not be allowed to compete in glitz beauty pageants; they should only be allowed to participate in natural beauty pageants, which promote healthy competition for contestants.
Child beauty pageants have been a part of American society since the 1960’s (Nussbaum). The children that compete in these contests are usually between the ages of two and eighteen, but there are some cases where the contestants begin competing in child beauty pageants younger than the age of two, or as soon as they are able to walk. Divisions include sportswear, talent, casual wear, swim wear, theme wear, decade wear, evening wear, interview, western wear, and outfit of choice. The child contestants are judged based on poise, perfection, looks, capability, and confidence. The prizes of the child beauty pageants differ, depending on the age and size of the contestant. These prizes consist of radios, bicycles, grants, trophies, tiaras, cash awards, and many more. The fees required for entering a pageant may include entry, rental fees, awards, administrative costs, and company profits, as well as clothing, hair, make-up, travel, food, and lodging. Preparing for pageants requires a large amount of time and patience. Hair and make-up takes three hours, minimum, and most performances require participants to practice for more than seven hours a week.
There are two main types of child beauty contests: glitz pageants and natural pageants. Glitz pageants include wearing hair pieces, wigs, extensions, flippers (fake teeth) and full make-up (Hubpages). Spray tans and expensive ‘attention catching’ dresses are exceedingly popular in this type of pageant. The dresses, poise, and stage presence in a Glitz pageant makes up a large percentage of the score. Most contestants are also encouraged to take glitz photos. These photos are not natural in any form, showing that ‘doctoring’ a child’s photo to make them appear as someone else, with entirely different aspects and features, is acceptable.
Unlike natural beauty pageants, glitz beauty...

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