Saturday, September 3, 2011

Reacting to Toddlers and Tiaras: Why Are Some Kids In Beauty Pageants, Anyway?

Aside from the children that made a conscious decision to participate in beauty pageants (and were old enough to make that decision and mean it), many kids are placed in beauty pageants by their parents. We see a lot of this on TLC's Toddlers and Tiaras, and sometimes it goes a bit too far.

Most kids are cute. This is because they're kids, they smile and they do cute things. They wear adorable clothes that they'll claim were 'super embarrassing' when they see the photographs during their teenage years. They're fun, they're loving, they're kids.

That being said, while most kids are cute, not all kids are beautiful. Some kids have big noses or go through awkward phases. Some kids are tall and lanky, while others are chunky and short. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with this, because our differences are what make us unique, but I am saying one thing: not all kids belong in beauty pageants.

First and foremost, beauty pageants are called beauty pageants for a reason. Their primary focus is on beauty: facial beauty, best smile, best photographs, etc. A kid can have all of the talent in the world, but without the beauty that a pageant requires, she probably doesn't stand a chance.

So, what's my point with this? I see a lot of kids on Toddlers and Tiaras that clearly don't have what it takes to win a beauty pageant. Their moms invest thousands of dollars into their kids' pageant careers, and most likely don't even get a minimal return on investment. The worst part is that some of these kids don't even want to be in pageants.

Let's start with the beauty part of this argument. I understand that some parents dream of entering their daughters in pageants even before they give birth to them. But some kids just don't have it. As Joel McHale pointed out on the show The Soup, some kids can't smile - and I definitely agree. Lots of kids in pageants are at least somewhat cute when covered in pounds of makeup, but it's impossible to overlook a kid who looks like they're snarling and want to bite your face off when they're attempting to fake a smile. If your kid can't fake at least a half decent smile, she probably doesn't belong in pageants.

Additionally, some kids don't have the look. I hate to say it, but not all kids are created equal. And as much as a parent tries to fake it, some kids just don't have the beauty that can win a pageant. Pageants have standards for beauty - the kids that win typically fit the mold of being classically beautiful. And if your kid doesn't have that, she probably isn't going to win.

Third, some kids are just not talented. A kid can be as adorable as can be, but if she looks like a toy robot when she walks, her performance is not going to win her a Grand Supreme title. If your kid is tone deaf and tries to sing, she won't win a title. If she does a magic trick and can't make a string of handkerchiefs appear out of a hat, she isn't going to win. You get the idea.

Some kids, even if they have the ability to do so, do not want to be in pageants. Take for example contestant Baylen from the Glamorous Beauties Pageant in Texas. The poor girl looked like she'd rather be anywhere besides on the pageant stage. Yet her parents still had her competing in pageants. You also see this sentiment a lot when kids practice - many of them have no desire to practice or participate in pageants, yet their parents force them to continue in the pageant world.

The Self Esteem Issue

On one episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, a child had some issues, and her parents put her in pageants to build her self esteem. You know what? It worked. And I fully respect that. Her parents used beauty pageants to build up their daughter into the confident young woman that she should be.

However, beauty pageants also have the ability to make kids into conceited little monsters or defeated children with low self esteem. They also can teach kids that beauty is all that matters, and education and personal development should take a backseat to wearing lots of makeup and being attractive. In the above cases, I think beauty pageants can be extremely detrimental to a child's self esteem and personal growth, and parents should pay more attention to how their kids will be affected in the long run and less to how many crowns they can take home in a weekend.

Are Pageants Healthy For Kids?

I genuinely do believe pageants can be healthy for some kids. Take, for example, Queen from the Winter Extravaganza pageant. The girl made her own decision to be in pageants, genuinely enjoys them and is incredibly talented. She probably gains poise and confidence from her appearance in pageants. This is a positive thing.

On the other hand, pageants can be destructive for other kids. Take, for example, the girls who don't have enough talent to bring home a high title. After a while, that has to get to you. You're forced to practice for hours on end to improve a talent that you just don't have. That has to be frustrating for a contestant and her family.

Also, pageants can be awful for family relationships. If you saw AshLynn and BreAnne Sterling's Toddlers and Tiaras episode, you know how damaging it can be when parents force their kids to compete, especially when favoritism is involved. It's similar in the case of Braxton and Alaska, even though they weren't competing directly against each other due to their genders.

It's really up to a parent whether or not a child competes in beauty pageants, but it seems that parents often make the wrong decision in this case. I'm sure there are kids out there who would love to be in pageants but aren't allowed to be, and there are kids who would love nothing more than to quit pageants. I think parents need to take a step back from their own desires and consider what's best for their children.

1 comment:

What's New!!! said...

This was a great post! I agree that often parents force their kids to do pageants even when the child does not have to talent or the look to win. It seems like such a huge waste of time and money to spend on a lost cause. Not only that but when it is clear that the child does not want to be there why not just stop? I would be so angry if after all the practice and resources used, that when it came time for the show, and the kid just stands there and refuses to participate. That would be the end of it for me. I don't have a child, so I can't speak as a parent, but I'd like to think that I would never force my child to do anything they did not want to do, Be it pageants, sports, music, or any other activity. It's better to let your child spend time doing something they actually love.