Saturday, May 26, 2012

When one watches a child beauty pageant, one can't help but wonder how old these participants are? Why is there a pageant for girls of such a young age in the first place? Are these mothers actually making their daughters walk the ramp? Is it worth their childhood, the parents time, energy and resources? And what kind of values does this instill in these young minds?

Children, as young as three to the age of 16 years take part in these  pageants when they should be rightfully be out playing in the parks or watching cartoons on television or going out with friends. It is surprising how mothers encourage their daughters to participate in these pageants at such a young age.

Instead of being in a world of cartoons, playing with friends, reading books; young girls are being plastered with heavy make – up and dolled up to stand as models and be judged by a panel. 

And to impress these judges, a huge sum of money, estimated over Dh 360,000 is spent on each of their outfits, hairstyles and make-up. Judged and declared winners, the prizes return only half the value of the money invested in the first place. Regardless of what it’s worth, the main question here, is this how a young girl’s childhood is supposed to be spent?

Unfortunately, parents continue to keep money flowing and won't stop until they get their daughters to the finals and surprisingly will do whatever it takes to get them through. And for what? Is it pride, fame, money, living their dreams through their child? Or probably all of it?

Watch -6 year old Alana on television show -Toddlers and Tiaras

The blame game

After careful consideration, all fingers point to society. For its a sad cycle that would drive anyone mad with anger. Society repeatedly constructs flawed perfect images, supports them and thrives on them until it stands for nothing but materialism and consumerism. 

Mother's are undoubtedly brainwashed by this, as they wish for their daughters to be well known and be the topic of interest in every household. Or probably mothers try to achieve something they weren't able to do themselves- a plot for their own children to live out their dreams,  diminish their own insecurities or perhaps they naively reflect the only parental values they've been taught as a child. Due to this, the children - our future generation is at cost as they lack the strong values that are meant to be learnt young. 

On the plus side, one could argue that participating  in these beauty pageants, the child may build confidence and know their inner selves better- but this could easily shatter if one is rejected or loses the pageant - for there is only one "winner". This is easily compromised as children at a young age of five and six already call each other “hookers” or by saying lines such as “A dollar makes me holler”.

Wake up and save our future

On a recent child beauty pageant (watch above), the mother of one of the contestants made her daughter a drink of sugar and caffeine, to make her ready and pumped up for the show. Eden Woods, seven, has already landed her own reality show ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’, where she will be seen giving advice to other child pageant contestants. 

Are the mothers of these girls living in denial of the reality or is this a way for them to live their broken dream through their daughters?  Is it necessary to snatch away a young girls childhood for they are too young to know what’s right and what’s wrong in the world? Is it worth risking their innocence and their childhood just to be famous and well known- and for long?

Mothers need to get a reality check on how they should raise their children, as once their child is absorbed into the world of fame, bringing them back to reality may be a difficult task. It’s time that such pageants to be stopped for young girls who are between the age groups of 3 – 16. It is extremely necessary for them to experience and enjoy their childhood, rather than missing it out by taking part in pageants which can be done once they are much older - and much more sensible.

By Christine Cherian

The writer is a final year media and communications student specializing in journalism in Manipal University, Dubai.