Lucky old me. I hide out for a week in hospital being ill and get home to find my children's rights newsletter 'CRINmail 1346' that includes a story on France banning child beauty pageants:
France bans child beauty pageants
Last week French senators banned beauty pageants for children under 16, claiming that they present young girls as “hyper-sexualised images of themselves”. The so-called “mini-miss” contests are popular in France, but supporters of the ban say they teach girls early on that they will be judged according to their physical appearance. The ban has yet to be approved by the National Assembly, but it has considerable cross-party support. Full story.
Each of the other four stories is worth a look as well. As somebody who works in that professional environment and so does my OH we tend to have a rather particular type of view of this kind of story but would welcome the opportunity to get an insight into how other people view such things. Don't expect hard line arguments though, just well reasoned discussions.
I have always felt uneasy about all beauty competitions (whether they be for young persons, adults, or even animals). I genuinely do not understand the mentality of the parents in exhibiting their children in such competitions; mainly as to what attitude it must be instilling in their children's minds. Despite this, I am concerned that it should be made a criminal offence.
I would not miss such "pageants" for a second but I am concerned at sections of society banning things because they don't like them. In a country with a core belief of liberty I am more concerned at what might be banned next by well-meaning polititians and minority pressure groups.
I think it is a good thing these competitions have been banned, not for the general tack-factor but because it is very damaging to teach small girls that there are to be valued only for their looks plus a hefty dose of tarting up - I'm saying small girls because I don't think it applies to small boys. I'd actually welcome a ban on 'beauty contests' tout court because they smack far too much of the pet show and don't even have the redeeming 'dog with the waggiest tail' prize... I have absolutely no problem with competitive sport or intellectual pursuits because those don't objectivise the person taking part, they aren't just a cipher or a piece of meat.
There is a huge amount of hypocrisy especially in GB and the US where small girls are simultaneously tarted up as ...what exactly?? Something creepy & inappropriate anyway; and paedophile-obsession is rife (you would think there was one behind every lamppost) I think this hysteria on top of that commercialised attitude to children and esp little girls as consumers in a huge & cynical cosmetics/fashion market is extremely unhealthy & feeds a pervasive objectification of children in general & small girls in particular, an unspoken understanding that they are consumer goods themselves (even in their own minds).
There seems to be a clear demarcation as well to do with the level of education of the people concerned - it is as if it is all right to feed dross & glitter to a great chunk of society who have not generally benefitted from a good education because "that's what they like", just as it is OK to feed them expensive-for-what-it-is prepackaged food because after all they don't know or deserve anything better. I think this is appalling and divisive and again, cynical manipulation. It isn't a new problem either, Richard Hoggart writing in 1957 had some still entirely valid things to say about it in The Uses of Literacy
I agree Brian, I couldn't read all of the links but in my opinion, the magazines are rubbish. I recall when I was about 14 the first time I saw a teenage magazine refer to 'sex' was 'More' Magazine. Before that we had Jenny magazine or something innocent which was all about girl things, ponies and hairbands. Nothing sexual whatsoever. With More magazine I believe it was supposed to be sold to over 16's only. We used to smuggle it into school and giggle at the 2 page spread which included a hand drawn sketch of 'position of the fortnight' - yes such was the impact of this I can still remember it 20+ years later! It was inappropriate then and goodness knows what they include now! I also recall that the only shop you could buy 'older style clothes' was Tammy Girl and that was age 14+. Now you just have to go into a supermarket.
But it's not just teenage magazines - the women's ones are also to blame. When I was in hospital with mum I bought some of the trashy mags (don't ask me why! complete waste of money) Anyway they are full of disgusting stories, tragic lives and whatever list so called celebrities posing in borrowed outfits and pouting. Pointless and a waste of time and money. They are not informative at all and if these are left around the house then the children would see them and think that is what life is about. I regret buying them and binned them within half an hour...
It's such a shame that it's evolved like this, It's like with pop videos. My kids love music but they can't watch most of the videos as they are too rude or portray negative attitudes towards women - even if the lyrics do not obviously come across that way.
I don't know how we stop this - public action and awareness is important - at least the government taking this position on pageants has raised awareness that's for sure.
Bear in mind there are four other related stories with this. I think the 'Teenage magazine guilty of sexualising children' is very indicative of the attitude of far too many adults toward children. It is a view that glamorises childhood, supposedly for them but actually as a money spinner for adult magazine proprietors. I often find that working n children's rights people like myself will ask why children are exploited but we are told they are not, it is their choice to be glamorous. There is a difference between dressing up and being dressed up the way the glamour industry does it. Indeed choice is rather less than persuasion and very often one finds that the biggest earners from these young people are their parents. If girls want to be a bit glamorous that is fine as long as it is how they want to do it, what they like and not some kind of an imitation of women more than double there age. What people like myself are far too aware of and here the truth should be said, the dividing line between making up a girl like someone older, thus making her sexy, and where the softest pornography begins is not far apart. Note well it is mostly girls who are both pretty and yet possess 'innocence' we are mainly looking at. Considerably less boys are used for this and perhaps that is quite simply because what makes boys attractive develops later. I have had to grit my teeth in Thailand where shows of this kind were particularly made attractive for western men. Our daughters have talked about these events with us and feel they are wrong, but then because of our professional lives we inform them what we do and often draw on their opinions anyway. Perhaps there is a little too consultation with children on such matters which night even prove my point here wrong and perhaps the ban is a bit too strong. The point I am making is simply that I wish we had more of children's input in every sense.
My daughter is 15 ... she is reserved with make up now .. went through a phase when ten of really wanting to wear makeup .. I would never have put her into a beauty pageant .. over my dead body even though I think at the age of ten she would have loved it .... I think it is an amazing move to ban these things and I see this as the French state making clear that they value women and girls for more than their looks. Wish it was so in other countries !
As a mum of 3 young girls, who I dress as little girls should be dressed in my opinion, Sweet and colourful but never as mini adults. My eldest, 4 and a half, takes a keen interest in choosing her clothes, she likes 'pretty dresses', she likes lip balm and she would love to have nail polish on like her friends at school. I will let them have 'sparkle dust' but not full on make up. I don't wear a lot of makeup but I do moisturise and wear face powder, perfume and lip balm. All they are doing is copying me and they enjoy dressing up and playing at home for their own amusement. To my mind, this is perfectly normal and what I did as a child too. I wouldn't put my kids into a beauty pageant though and I am now finding some situations difficult to explain. For example a friend's daughter had a bikini on - she's around 8. I prefer a swimsuit on kids and my eldest wanted to know why she didn't have a bikini. I explained they were for older girls and at that point she enquired 'how old?'. She has a memory like an elephant so I knew this would be filed away for use in 3 years time, so I had to explain our rules are our rules but every family is different. The same will happen with piercings no doubt now that the eldest are at maternelle and lots of children already have them and we've had interesting discussions about tattoos. Our view is they can't have piercings till at least 12 and we'd prefer they didn't have a tattoo before 25 :) but I wish there was a guide book somewhere to help with these sorts of conversations. At the end of the day it's all down to our own family and personal values I guess. We make our own judgements about how we dress our children and how we present ourselves. I for one though do not intend to put any of my 3 into a beauty pageant but I'm not sure I need the government to tell me not to do that. It's my personal choice based on my values. With all the horrible stories on the news these days, protecting our children is important but I think we are also in danger of over protecting them and curtailing normal childhood innocent behaviour. Just my view xx
I think these beauty pageants where little girls are dressed up inappropriately and made up to the nines are ghastly. That's my opinion though and I know some people love them.
I think they do focus too much on the packaging which is predictable and tacky. I don't like any beauty contests really but that's just me. I get the impression they are not a 'healthy' thing for girls to be in, emotionally and psychologically. Playing at being a princess with your friends is one thing. Strutting your stuff in expensive clothes in front of an audience of professionals is quite another. These pageants take a harmless bit of childish fun and turn it into a dodgy, tacky, objectifying event.