OK, this isn't as deep a thread as some of the others, but wanted to float what I saw last weekend, see if anyone sees it different. However, if the thread gets no responses, that's ok too.
Last weekend, the family and I went to Loiusville, Kentucky for the weekend. As it turned out, the hotel where we stayed hosted the "American Coed" beauty pagent, apparently for girls ages about 7 or 8 up to 17 or 18. Different divisions (I think) for the different ages. Obviously, I watched none of the formal pagent, but piled up some pretty good observations of the contestants in the hotel lobby and hallways. Put briefly, I was not impressed.
Many of the girls seemed incredibly self absorbed. On one occasion, I watched a girl of about 9 or 10 block an entire hallway while she and her friend pondered the deep and weighty question of what was offered in the candy machine. When my wife, carrying the baby tried to get by, one of them gave her a snotty look, while the other turned slightly to give my wife about a 6 inch walkway. My wife had to push to get through, and for her trouble got a snide remark as she walked away from these brats. Much of the self absorbtion, of course, dealt with looks. I saw several examples of girls, and their mothers, concerned deeply with looks in girls who were young enough that they should have been outside playing with their friends, rather than wearing formal ball gowns, etc.
What worried me the most, though, was what I saw as the message these girls seemed to be learning. Everything in the pagent seemed to be connected with looks and manner of dress. We all know that dressing appropriately for the occasion is an important lesson to learn, but when I see an 8 year old with very expensive false nails, done to perfection, I wonder when that kid can play? It seemed to be that these girls were being raised to be ornamental, to be the best possible "looker" that could be draped on a man's arm. I saw nothing that demonstrated to me that these girls were learning about being individuals, with brains and a myriad of other things to offer. They are being raised to believe the only thing they have to offer is looks, and moms are part of the conspiracy.
I don't know. Is it just me, thinking we are exposing girls to this nonsense at WAY to young an age? Are these really character building, and I just missed it? Or, should these foolish things be outlawed forever?
Jul 8, '03
I agree with you that many of these pageants focus on the wrong things. I think they are fine when a woman gets older and decides for herself that she wants to do them, but 6 year olds being pushed into the pageant world by overbearing parents really makes me sick. I was in the Junior Miss program in high school-- it was a scholarship pageant that emphasized academic acheivement. Of course, we still had to dance around the stage in a really skimpy glittery outfit. I suppose I'm glad that I did it, but it was an experience that I would definitely not repeat.
Jul 8, '03
There is a documentary that runs occasionally on A&E about this type of pageant. For some reason, I always watch it. I am shocked and saddened by the families they focus on.
They spend big bucks to attend these pageants, to outfit their children to look like adults, and on lessons regarding their talent.
I have two daughters, whom I consider to be attractive girls, but I would NEVER exploit them in such a manner. These parents state that they continue to get caught up in pageant life because their kids enjoy it and want to do it. After watching these exhausted girls cry and throw tantrums, it makes you wonder just who wants it more?
Just my opinion!
Jul 8, '03
I guess I never thought too much of pagents; I think they can be great for girls to get involved in provided they aren't taught what you apparently witnessed.
In other words, I think it's fine for a girl to be in pagents and I would let my daughter be in one if she wanted however, I would also try to instill in her on how to be a lady, how to be pretty without being slutty; how to be confident and poised without being self-absorbed.
I think it's important for girls to feel good about themselves and sometimes pagents like this are how they begin to do so. Girls in society, in my opinion, are still somewhat taught to be meek and not assertive. However the problem lies when the focus becomes physical attributes and nothing else. Granted, in our society looks will get you a long way. Not to say this is right - this is just reality. Girls should be prepared for this kind of society. But at the same time, grace, poise and confidence should be taught and NOT self-absorption and selfishness.
In other words, these pagents can be a good thing if done right.
Jul 8, '03
I do worry about the message we send young girls when we encourage this at such a young age.
I don't think beauty pageants are the main issue here though. I wonder about why girls value themselves so little. Having had two teenage boys, I'm saddened by how easily most girls give themselves away and at what a young age they start. As Kevin was saying, they don't even have a chance to be kids. Little girls wanting to be like Brittany Spears (who lost her virginity to Justin Timberlake - shocking
Supposedly we have come through 20 years of feminism teaching women to stand up for themselves and, as sjoe says . . not put up with any crap. But they do.
I'm trying really hard to give my almost 14 year old daughter the tools to make choices that are good for her and not choices that compromise her value to her Daddy and me and to God. But the truth is, it is difficult. Sometimes I'd like to just move away to a tropical island and live like a hermit with my kids. Do missionary nursing. Farm the land. Get away from "popular culture" . . . .
Of course Kevin, when I saw "beauty pageants" I immediately thought of JonBenet Ramsey . . and those videos of her all made up looking like a . . .well, I won't say it. So sad.
Can't ban pageants though . . .
ah well, another tough subject . . .
Jul 8, '03
I have had person after person after person tell me my daughter ought be in a beauty pageant. She is 4, has waist-length curly strawberry hair (think ringlets) and huge blue eyes and a rosebud mouth. She is a classic beauty. But what do I emphasize? HER BRAINS and INNER STRENGTH and CHARACTER!!!! I tell her (and my son) that I believe in them, their abilities, strength and the willingness to do the right things in any dilemma.
I focus VERY little on physical looks cause I don't want her values all screwed up. Beauty pageant??? YICK!!!!?NEVAHHH!!!! More like Soccer, Martial arts, Baseball and Basketball. THAT will build much more self-esteem in a girl than ANY superficial pageant ever will. Looks fade, character goes on even after we die. People hung up on physical beauty don't have much to look forward as they age if they have nothing else going for them!
Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Jul 8, '03
Jul 8, '03
Deb . . . you said it well. Ditto for me . . .
Jul 11, '03
Pagents are a little weird to say the least, but on a positive note, I have a friend who was in pagents from the time she was 7 until 18. She recently put herself through med school with a lot of the money she won. My view on pagents really centers around the parents. Her mom made sure this was not "a big deal", if she lost or wanted to quit it was fine by her. So many parents pressure, makes me wonder if these kids wouldn't rather be out playing?
Jul 11, '03
I'm with Deb on this one, too!
As the mother of a 6 y/o girl, I'm already seeing the pressure to conform...wanting to wear make-up & dress provocatively. Some of it, the dressing at least, is an expirimentation sort of thing. I realize that. I remain ever concerned at the mores of our society & the effect of them on our children.
I have continuously emphasized brains over beauty...Trying over whining, etc. I can see that she's getting the message. I only pray that she remembers the lessons she's learned when she is a teen. Oy, I don't even want to think about it!
Jul 12, '03
I too was a mom who never did beauty pagents when my daughter was younger. I use to tell people that I didn't need anyone to tell me my daughter was beautiful, I knew she was. However, when she got in Jr. High, she, herself wanted to be in one of her schools pagents. They picked the top three in her grade, she got fourth.(I have to admit, I was proud). So this made her mad, said she was going to do it again the next year, determined to win. Well, she didn't win first, but got 2nd runner up. But all of this was her idea! Sorry, I know I'm bragging, but I'm very proud mama. I was just proud she had the guts to get up there if front of all those people on stage. This is something I never would have done at her age.
Jul 12, '03
I would actively discourage my children from entering or admiring pagents. I want them to know that their body is a package for their mind- and it's their actions that will make a real difference in the world, not how pretty they look.