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Detrimental Factors Involved In Beauty Pageants English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 2742 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Beautiful girls with gorgeous gowns and perfect smiles are the first things that come to mind when thinking about beauty pageants. While all the glam and sparkling crowns may seem quite appealing at first glance, the dangerous reality of pageants creates a flaw in the once perfect image. By taking a closer look, one can find sexual predators watching young girls parade across the stage, or the pressure to be perfect by a child’s own parents. Beauty pageants are not what they used to be. When asked about beauty pageants, older generations think of natural beauty and a “just for fun” atmosphere. Now, beauty pageants have been taken to the next level, called “Glitz” beauty pageants, creating a bad image for beauty pageants and what they represent. Children are increasingly becoming involved in this world of hair extensions, fake teeth, and spray on tans, while their parents sit back and watch an average childhood of games and toys go down the drain.

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The murder of Jon-Benet Ramsey, a pageant girl with everything going for her, unveiled a horrifying truth of pageants and the children who take part in them. While some believe pageants cannot possibly result in murder, they are wrong. When parents put their children up on stage with an immense amount of makeup and revealing costumes, they are setting them up for sexual predation. The exploitation of children in beauty pageants should be brought to attention by parents before another child like Jon-Benet Ramsey loses her life. Pageants are obviously not what they used to be. The 1950’s pageants that the generations before us participated in concentrated on natural beauty, unlike pageants now. While natural beauty was healthy and helpful to the self-esteem, artificial beauty, the main factor in pageants today, is not healthy and is detrimental to the self-esteem of participants. Child beauty pageants are sending out the wrong message, with the exploitation of children, negative effects on the self-esteem, and outrageous expenses in order to participate.

Parents believe pageants are a smart way to gain scholarships and other money prizes for their children. For example, the “Universal Royalty” pageant, one of the largest beauty pageants in the business, provides a one thousand dollar scholarship to the winner (Nussbaum, 2000). While this may seem like a great prize to win, parents do not take in to consideration the fees required to be successful in this beauty pageant. The registration fee for the “Universal Royalty” pageant is five hundred and forty-five dollars, with formal gowns costing up to twelve thousand dollars and other fees required to be successful in the pageant (Nussbaum, 2000). Though the prize is one thousand dollars, necessities for the pageant add up to much more than the cash money prize. Most pageants provide a five hundred dollar scholarship to the winner, but costs for the pageant add up to much more than the cash money prize as well (Dittrich, 2001). Nevertheless, parents are still proud of the multiple tiaras and crowns their child has won throughout her years of pageant experience. Figure 1, shown below, is an example of a “showcase of tiaras.”

Figure1: Showcase of Tiaras:

Note: Emily Crown Hall of Fame. Photograph. Florida. TVGasm. Web. 1 Apr. 2010. .

Without knowing everything involved in the preparation of a beauty pageant, an onlooker would be shocked. To be successful in a professional “Glitz” beauty pageant, the money is a necessity. The registration fee for a pageant starts at $85 (Dittrich, 2001). With the entry to the pageant comes a glamour shot of the contestant. This usually runs about “$700 for a single roll of film” (Dittrich, 2001). Trainers cost $40 dollars an hour, and a “Glitz” dress is usually $1,000 and up (Dittrich, 2001). A “flipper,” or a device used for replacing missing teeth, cost about $500, and are used constantly in beauty pageants at the professional level (Dental, 1999). Overall, a family spends $30,000 to $40,000 a year to supply their child with the necessary accessories to win a “Glitz” professional pageant. While money seems to be a dominating issue in beauty pageants, this is not the only negative aspect of being involved in the pageant world.

The artificial beauty push seems to be a well-discussed controversy involved in the beauty pageant world today because a child can’t possibly be successful in a professional “Glitz” beauty pageant without the right training and knowledge. Winners of professional beauty pageants have the correct amount of makeup, a pageant coach, a designer dress, fake teeth, commonly known as a “flipper,” spray on tans, and the right hair pieces to create a “fuller” look. A newcomer into this kind of pageant would be overwhelmed at how much effort has to be put into one beauty pageant. Nicki Burton, a well-known pageant coach says, “You can’t be normal and win beauty pageants” (Dittrich, 2001). Since so much emphasis is placed on the artificial appearance of a child, natural beauty doesn’t seem as important. Many people think beauty pageants are healthy for a child’s self image. However, the belief that “appearance defines the value of a person is so destructive that many organizations concerned with finding healthier ways of raising girls have developed criteria to give girls a sounder basis for measuring their worth than pasted-on prettiness” (Mann, 1997). Studies show that 77% of girls view themselves as “ugly,” because of media portraying the perfect girl as skinny and beautiful (Offbeat, 2007). Since beauty pageants have winners only with the perfect image, beauty pageants are contributing to the percentage of girls who do not have a good self-image of themselves. Artificial beauty is not healthy, which creates a negative side of beauty pageants that many do not realize.

Some parents believe that beauty pageants have a positive effect on children. This is not uncommon, which is why so many children are entered into beauty pageants on a daily basis. Whether these parents aren’t informed of the harmful effects of beauty pageants, or if parents choose to ignore these harmful effects, beauty pageants are still unsafe. Many parents say that pageants are a fun way for children to compete with other children their age, and have the potential to help pay for a college education with scholarships offered to the winner (Catwalk, 1997). But experts highly disagree. Though parents may think pageants create a healthy competitive side of a child and increase their social interactions with other contestants, pageants actually hinder the growth of social qualities in contestants (Eder, 1997). Children don’t socialize with other contestants in pageants, due to the intense competition involved in beauty pageants. Marie Sprague, a former model and modeling instructor, believes that pageants “develop poise, personality, and confidence” (Harris, 1997). But what Sprague and many other people fail to consider is how all of these qualities are developed. Developing a personality from pageants may not be the healthiest way for children to grow, according to some psychologists. Psychologists do not like the idea of children focusing on their outer beauty so much (Catwalk, 1997). This creates an unhealthy environment for children to be around, therefore making beauty pageants unsafe for beauty pageant contestants. Experts seem to agree, including Dr. Miles Frank.

In an interview with Dr. Miles Frank on January 26, 2010, a licensed physician for children, the negative aspects of pageants were highlighted. Dr. Frank believes that names such has “Little Miss Perfect” have a negative impact on children participating in these sort of pageants. He believes that “If too much emphasis is placed on winning the pageant, the outcome will have more effect. And since most girls who are in pageants will lose, I think you are more likely to set your child up to have a poor self image” (Dr. Miles Frank, personal communication). This makes sense. While many parents believe pageants are a good stepping-stone to a better self-esteem, they are wrong. If ten girls participated in a particular beauty pageant, one out of the ten girls may gain a positive self-esteem. What happens to the rest of the nine contestants? They are left to obsess over why they did not win the pageant, causing a poor self-image (Dr. Miles Frank, personal communication).

In an interview with Stephanie Throckmorton, the negative effects of beauty pageants nearly doubled the positive effects of beauty pageants. After involving her daughter in a few local beauty pageants, she decided to try a “Glitz” pageant for fun. She refuses to be involved with professional pageants now, due to the dominance of artificial beauty and unrealistic fees. Stephanie said, “going to a beauty pageant at that level made me feel uncomfortable, and forced me to realize my daughter could not compete with these girls at the level of income we are at” (Stephanie Throckmorton, personal communication). This is seen not only in professional beauty pageants, but also at the local level.

Going to any beauty pageant for entertainment purposes gives the individual the opportunity to see the negative effects beauty pageants have on their young contestants. After observing a local pageant, young contestants who did not win were seen telling their parents “they weren’t good enough,” or “not pretty anymore” (Beauty contestants, personal communication). The parents who believe beauty pageants build self-esteem in a positive way are the parents of the winner in the pageant, not the contestants who didn’t receive recognition of their performance on stage. Girls are constantly being put down mentally by being involved in pageants. After talking to the girls who did not place, it was clear that they did not have fun with the pageant (Beauty contestants, personal communication). They wanted to know why they weren’t the winner. Telling a child they didn’t win because someone was better than them is the message beauty pageants send to people without knowing it, causing the drastic shift from a positive self-image to a negative self-image in many young girls’ lives.

Pageant girls are beautiful, plain and simple. But what goes on behind the stage to transform these girls into perfection? Children in beauty pageants literally turn into someone they normally aren’t, coming across as fake. According to Judy Mann, a writer for the Washington Post, children are constantly being pushed to perfection with unrealistic looks women could actually attain (Mann, 1997). Pageant children are always trying to reach a goal that is impossible to achieve. The idea of perfection eats away at a child’s mind, causing them to do anything to reach this impractical goal. This explains why so many pageant girls are unnaturally thin and have a face painted with too much makeup. Over seven million women have suffered from an eating disorder (Eating Disorder, 2006). The projection of the perfect body image from beauty pageants is not helping this number go down. Nicki Burton, a well-known pageant coach for all ages, thinks a “pageant girl has to look a certain way, act a certain way, and eat a certain way” (Dittrich, 2001). Usually, a pageant girl is not the person she appears to be. When she is on stage, she pretends to be someone she isn’t, merely to impress a line of judges. Though it may seem like the child is the one striving so hard to be perfect, this is not the case. Parents push their children to the limit, and at any costs. Reporters for the St. Louis Post Dispatch say, “parents who let their child compete in beauty pageants may be so focused on their own needs that they fail to see the negative effects… on their child” (Eder, 1997). Because parents cannot be satisfied with children who are not perfect, parents are making the pageant world have a harmful effect on the children who participate. The combination of parents, and the desire to be perfect all have a lot to contribute to the detrimental aspects of pageantry.

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Some parents put their children in beauty pageants because they want to “promote” their child in a positive way. Contestants like to participate in pageants to showcase their “talents,” such as singing, dancing, or their “wow-wear” portion of the competition (Trujillo, 2007). Parents like to see their children on stage, no matter what they are doing, because they think pageants are fun for the child (Dittrich, 2001). By promoting their child in beauty pageants, parents aren’t realizing that they are exploiting their child on stage.

The exploitation of children happens all the time in beauty pageants. Children are being exposed in a sexual manner, causing sexual predators to notice. Many seem to notice that when a child takes her top layer off, exposing a smaller outfit underneath, she receives a louder applause (Dittrich, 2001). Not only is the child sexually exposed, but she is also trained to take her clothes off to win. Pageant coaches train their pageant girls to “project sexuality,” because that is what wins (Eder, 1997). Parents constantly overlook the dangers of tiny outfits and a face covered in makeup when trying to win at any costs.

Jon-Benet Ramsey was found in the basement of her parent’s house, strangled and sexually assaulted. She was an active participant in professional beauty pageants, with a bright future ahead of her. Her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, supplied her with all the necessities to win a pageant, including the makeup, spray on tan, hair extensions, and other items. Many wonder what this has to do with her murder. If she had not participated in pageants, and experienced the exploitation caused by her parents, many seem to think this murder would have never taken place, and Jon-Benet Ramsey would have lived a normal life (Reed, 2010). At first glance, Jon-Benet Ramsey looks as if she’s twenty years old, shown below in Figure 2.

Figure2: Glamour Shot of Jon-Benet Ramsey

Note: Jonbenet1. 2009. Photograph. Brandy Lewis Forensics. Web. 1 Apr. 2010. .

However, she was only six when she was choked to death (Verrengia, 1997). While the death of an innocent child is a tragedy, it should have been expected, due to the exploitation of Jon-Benet in the beauty pageant world.

Many believe that parents push their children to participate in beauty pageants because it was something the parents, particularly the mother, have been interested in. Patsy Ramsey, Jon-Benet Ramsey’s mother, was a former beauty queen, and it is said that she put Jon-Benet in beauty pageants in order to “relive her unfulfilled fantasies through her daughter” (Reed, 2010). This explains why Patsy Ramsey has so often been accused of exploiting her child in the pageant world and eventually causing the death of her daughter.

The smell of hairspray, the glitter of white smiles, and the desire to win fill the atmosphere of a regular pageant. But what people don’t realize is that the feeling of defeat, the crushing of a child’s self confidence, and the unbearable urge to be flawless also exist at a pageant. While a child prances across the stage with her white smile and sparkly gown, she is susceptible to sexual assault, hindered social interactions, and a belief that what she has to offer not relating to beauty means nothing. The death of Jon-Benet Ramsey was a tragedy. Jon-Benet was a girl just like every other pageant girl. But who knew her interest in beauty pageants would eventually lead to her death? Parents need to realize the dangers of beauty pageants, and what could happen to their precious child if being beautiful suddenly crosses the line.


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