The Effects of Beauty Pageants on Young Girls

Written by leah williams
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The Effects of Beauty Pageants on Young Girls
Child beauty pageants can have both positive and negative effects on girls. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Since the 1960s, girls have curled their hair and readied their sparkling smiles in hopes of taking home the tallest trophies. The glitz and glamour surrounding child beauty pageants have garnered much media attention, but how well little girls adapt to life as performing princesses varies from child to child. Experts have identified good and bad effects associated with beauty pageants.

Social Interaction

Being involved in beauty pageants is a way for girls to meet and interact with girls who share a similar interest. These girls are likely to compete with each other if their parents take them to the same local competitions. Another positive effect is that beauty pageants can give girls a lesson in competition. Through the contest, girls can learn that if they want to achieve something, they will have to work at it. Pageants take discipline and dedication, and your girl will have to understand the importance of winning and losing graciously.

Parent Interaction

Another positive effect of a child's involvement is the time spent with her parents. From practices and dress shopping to choosing make-up colours and driving to the different pageants, the parent has the opportunity to bond with daughter. For example, if a mother had participated in pageants as a kid, then she can pass on some of the inside tricks that she learnt as a competitor.

The Concept of Beauty

The focus on beauty may have some negative effects on a child's self esteem. Because pageants focus on looking and acting a certain way, some girls may feel inadequate because their scores do not add up when compared to those of the other competitors. This could have a diminishing effect on a girl's self worth, and, in the worst of cases, lead to an eating disorder or unrealistic idea of how she is supposed to look. Teenage girls are especially susceptible to this pressure, because they are bombarded with other entities to keep a certain social status in order to stay "cool."

Pressure to Perform

Beauty pageants set a standard for its contestants, and it is up to the girls to achieve that standard. The youngest of contestants are often trying to please their parents at the pageants. They may not understand the gravity of the situation, that it is only a competition and the importance of performing a certain way on stage. These children may develop the logic that mad and sad feelings are bad feelings to have, and that they should only convey happy and smiling attitudes, according to Los Angeles-based license family and marriage therapist Michele Maika Berg, a writer for Mom Logic. Girls may then turn the way they feel inward to avoid dealing with the issue, and this repressing element can have long-term mental implications. Now something that was done "just for fun" has turned into something the girl feels she has to do.

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