This photograph by Jodi Cobb premiered in Enigma of Beauty story in National Geographic magazine issue of January 2000. It shows a girl of 6-7 years, prancing happily on a pavement, while her proud mother takes her to a children beauty pageant.
The girl is wearing electric fuchsia frock with rhinestones, silver glitter and gunmetal studs. Her feet are adorned with white wingtip booties and white frilly socks with lace finish. Dirty-ish blonde hair bobble around her head in thick curls. A focal point of the picture, she contrasts vividly with her mother, denim-clad and greyish, and the background – sordid, spotty pavement, other pedestrians bodies, car bonnets. The girl looks like a neon bright baby angel, like a cut out from a magazine pasted on a regular photo of a suburban street.
The picture in its composition relates to street photography. It is a candid, not staged photograph. It is also rather dark, taken probably without the use of any artificial lighting. The composition in itself is quite random, with no respect to the rule of thirds, symmetry, or balance. Framing also looks incidental, as the girl is not in the center of the picture, and other people presented in it are viewed only from the waist down. The line of cars parked by the pavement create depth that draws attention farther into the picture. As the focus is centered on the girl, the foreground is more dark and blurry, allowing to see only the silhouette of the person in the back. The viewpoint suggests that it might have been taken quickly and spontaneously, perhaps it was a shot from the hip.
Question asked by Jodi Cobb is whether this image seems right, does it look like a proper situation? Does it present reality as it should be?
According to several hundred published articles and analysis', child beauty pageants12345 have both devastating effect on girls self-esteem and their families budget. Girls are forced to perform sexually saturated dance routines (to give a few examples; Julia Roberts' dance from Pretty Woman, Dolly Parton's double entendre choreography, hips gyrating and tiny chests visually enhanced). Children are paraded as sex objects, treated like human-size dolls, and refused to be given any credit for whatever they are given by nature. All they deserve recognition for are flippers (fake teeth), hair extensions, fake tan, caked makeup, costumes that strongly resemble escorts' outfits, quinceañera dresses or adult Halloween costumes for women with large bosoms. It can be argued that the wrongdoing is in the eye of the beholder, and that the audience is who makes the fairy-princess dresses and face crystals seem tacky and sexually loaded. But what about teaching out daughters that all they get attention and for is beauty that is produced, manufactured, faked and pretended?
Child beauty contests are the milestone of the beauty revolution; it is an effect of booming fashion industry, selling for billions of dollars an idea of an unachievable beauty. To...