TV shows like Toddlers and Tiaras and an issue of French Vogue has created a lot of stir due to their promotion of child pageants. Any sensible parent will have a hard time watching these and will despair for what the little girls are being put through. You tend to question the sensibilities of the mother and what actually prompts them to put their children through this? You will be inclined to think that these are actually done by mothers who are trying to relive their better days through their children by taking undue advantage of their youthful skin and the innocent smiles.
Why we should blame the parents?
The most intriguing thing is that very often these kids are from the same parents who raise a hue and cry about pedophiles and perverted men at the drop of a hat. They are right in their admonition as these men are definitely quite disgusting in their behaviors. But if you are really serious about boycotting these people then what are they doing to these kids? Their little children are being stared at by the adults. The parents need to understand that the little girls are not trophies so that the entire world can see them while they mint money. The children are still developing and needs the love and care of an adult. Such exposure is disgusting for them.
What do the experts say?
Experts all over have agreed that participating in events that concentrate on physical appearance at such an early age can influence their self-esteem and self-worth. The child can suffer from issues related to self-identity after she ‘retires’ from these events. In fact such incidents are not very uncommon. They will have a propensity to struggle with diets and body image and these can eventually lead to severe eating disorders. However, not every participant will have such issues when they grow in age but a majority does. These image obsessions can drive the girl towards achieving the impossible goal of physical perfection. In fact research has conclusively proved that childhood beauty pageant contestants suffer from severe degrees of body dissatisfaction.
Child pageants put unnecessary pressure
The dance circuits and the various child pageants are very competitive and demanding and they put enormous stress on the children. If you watch any reality dance/pageant show you will not fail to notice the tremendous pressure these children are put through. There is a huge stress on them to perform flawlessly. Tears and tantrums are quite common place in these shows. Consequently these children begin to believe that parental love is somehow related to their performance on the stage. As a result they indulge in long practice sessions that can interfere with their social activities and sleep. In the backdrop of all these, the school and the homework takes a backseat. Money and TV ratings are the main driving force behind these events while the parents and others reap the benefits.
The long-term effects
The parents need to be fully aware about the long term effects of these highly competitive and beauty driven competitions. They can have a serious impact on the psyche of a young girl. Since these activities puts huge importance on physical attributes, the children gets an idea that physical beauty and superficial charm are the easy routes to success. No wonder, self-esteem and self-worth become tied to the degree of attractiveness. The common perception is the natural beauty and brains are not enough to have a good standing in life. They just don’t understand that looks are just the first chapter of the book called ‘Life’ and brains will what guide them through this life forever.
On the contrary, those who are behind this child beauty pageants claim that dance competitions and beauty pageants are actually a wonderful and enriching experience and can pave the way for a rewarding career in the future. But they miss out that fact that children should not be tied to a make believe world and fancy costumes. The parents must show unconditional love for their children so that the little ones can reduce body dissatisfaction and recover from poor self-esteem. Even if these parents are making their children participate in these events, they must take care to ensure that there is a healthy balance between ‘work’ and study. The children must be encouraged to study and do other regular activities in between the dance competitions. Dance and events are important but not more than school and friends. This feeling must be instilled in the children by the parents. A balanced childhood along with unconditional love from parents is the perfect recipe for a happy child.