The Toddler Doesn’t Need a Tiara

Toddler Pageants are ruining today’s tots

Opinion by Kate Fry ‘12 | Staff Writer

Please don’t be a baby beauty queen. I can see you now, standing up there on stage. You’re in a dress that costs far too much for how little goes into making it. That gown is your third change of clothes that night: you have already danced around in an outfit that would have done justice to a Vegas showgirl and a bikini fresh from the set of “I Dream of Genie.” But now a gaudy rhinestone tiara sits on your head, roses are awkwardly cradled in one arm, and as you wave to the admiring crowd, you cry. Your tears are cleaning that pound of makeup off your face.

But, in the morning, when your breath smells and you’re in pajamas and your pretty “face” is off in the pillow, I want to ask you,“Is it worth it, that little crown for all the pain and the warped ideas that these contests are giving you?” I’m just curious, because toddler pageants are making for some twisted tots.

For a case in point, look to CNN. They ran a story about a mom who sued three media outlets for “sexualizing” her five-year-old daughter, Isabella. The news organizations say that she was dancing inappropriately to the song, “Sexy and I Know It,” in an inappropriate locale for someone of that age. For this, the mother demands a sum of 30 million.

As it turns out, the girl was at a pet charity and was singing a popular song and dancing appropriately. So how could the media have thought she was doing something uncouth? It couldn’t have been the shoulder-baring, low-cut pink dress, could it? Or the obvious eyeshadow and caked-on foundation? These items are touchy for any self-respecting woman, but they are alright for a kid — really?

I can easily see why the critics looked askance at the kid. In a semi-dark room, lit intermittently by a strobe light, sits a child in a skimpy outfit, smothered in makeup singing a song with loose lyrics. That’s a scene that could be torn from the pages of a bad novel.

But, behind this tragedy of errors where a mother fights for her daughter’s honor, the mastermind behind the madness is never mentioned.

Toddler pageants. Google the phrase and up pops many pages of pictures of children ranging in age from absolute baby to little child in clothes and makeup that would make a streetwalker blush. The children don false eyelashes, teeth, and tans to complete this ignominious illusion.

Add up all these factors, and you get the sum: beauty pageants are seriously warping today’s kids. All the makeup sets a tone saying that makeup is a must for beauty; so are false sets of teeth and lashes; modesty has no place in beauty; and to really wow the crowd, show all the skin you can without alarming the censors.

Are those the values we really want to teach our kids? Do we really want to give them the impression that only beauty matters, that no one is ever really good enough without fake accessories, that high self-esteem is only for a certain group, or that they are never good enough? Do we want to increase the likelihood that our young girls will develop an eating disorder, or will feel the need to get extravagant plastic surgery and youth injections when they get older? We want to make them more insecure as they approach their teenage years? We want them to pass this unholy show onto their children?

I don’t know about you, but I would like to return to a simpler time, where beauty was something you only worried about after thirteen, and had some limits to the extent of the fake things you could wear and still keep your reputation, where beauty wasn’t crammed down a child’s throat.

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