November 06, 2009

Sociology & Tiaras

Hilary Levey By Hilary Levey

Robert Wood Johnson Fellow in Health Policy

Every Wednesday night at 9 pm I sit down in front of the TV, put on TLC, pull out my notebook, and do research for two hours. Yes, that’s right—watching the pageant shows Toddlers & Tiaras and the new show, King of the Crown, is part of my research. Back in 1999, when I was a sophomore in college, I did a research paper on child beauty pageants for a required sociology class. Little did I know that a decade later I would still be writing about pageants, but now as a professional sociologist!

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Ever since the murder of JonBenét Ramsey, Americans have been simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by child beauty pageants. Many people didn’t know about these events until the death of JonBenét, in late 1996, but I have found that child beauty pageants have existed in the United States in one form or another since the 1800s. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw the growth and development of a variety of events that are precursors to the child beauty pageants of today, including May Day festivals, baby parades, and beautiful and healthy baby contests.

All of these festivals, parades, and contests started at about the same historical moment. Such child-centered contests were part of a larger movement that began to socially value children in new ways. It was during this time period, from roughly the 1870s to the 1930s, that child labor was eradicated, compulsory education began, and children came to be valued as “economically ‘worthless’ but emotionally ‘priceless,’” according to sociologist Viviana A. Zelizer.. This re-evaluation of childhood helped contribute to the development of distinct children’s spheres, like clothing designed especially for children (see Daniel Thomas Cook’s work on kids’ clothes).

The Asbury Park baby parade was arguably the most famous of the baby parades and contests that started at the turn of the twentieth century, rewarding children for their looks and their costumes. In its heyday, in 1893, it drew 30,000 spectators; in fact, it was so popular that Thomas Edison made one of his first movies of the event, on September 12, 1904.

As the popularity of parades and contests declined at the turn of the twentieth century, modern beauty pageants, for adult women, began to hit their stride. The first “live” beauty contest is said to have occurred in Reheboth Beach, Delaware in 1880. After that, pageants began springing up at carnivals and fairs and on beaches along both coasts, with pageants available for every age and body type.

The most famous, successful, and enduring of all of these is the Miss America Pageant , founded by a group of Atlantic City businessmen in 1921. These men wanted to keep visitors on the shore after Labor Day, the traditional end of the summer season, so they came up with the idea of a bathing beauty contest. They held the first Miss America contest on September 6, 1921 (though it didn’t come to be known by that name until 1941) with only seven “bathing beauties.” By the next year there were 57 contestants, and from there the Pageant continued to grow.

After the Miss America Pageant first appeared on television in 1954—breaking all previous viewing records with twenty seven million viewers—child pageants as we know them today started to develop in the void left by the closure of the parades and contests (which was mainly because of fears of polio in the 1950s). If you’ve seen Little Miss Sunshine, then you have a pretty good idea of how these pageants work.

One the biggest questions the public usually has after watching Little Miss Sunshine or one of the TLC shows is: Why do people, almost always mothers, put their little kids in these pageants? I’ve given you a bit of historical background, but I want to suggest a few explanations from other academic disciplines, before turning to my sociological analysis. Psychological explanations usually draw on the idea that many parents vicariously live through their children. Pageant moms are looking for self-affirmation when they are told their child is beautiful; they may be frustrated with their own lives and appearances and push their daughters to succeed in ways that they have not.

Economists focus more on the investment these moms are making in their children. Here the idea is that someday, their children will grow up to be successful (perhaps related to their participation in these events), and they will then have more resources to take care of the parents when they are elderly. Or, for some families, the pageants provide the possibility of a financial windfall. For example, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears both did child beauty pageants. On a smaller fame-scale, some pageant contestants can earn money in other ways. Remember the cringe-worthy final answer of Miss South Carolina Teen a few years ago?

Caitlin has now parlayed that “answer” into TV appearances, highlighted on TLC’s King of the Crown, and a recent commercial. Other pageant contestants use the scholarship money awarded to pageant winners. For all its faults, some of which I write about here, the Miss America Pageant remains the largest source of college scholarship money for women in the world.

And this leads me to part of my sociological analysis of why mothers enroll their very young daughters in child beauty pageants, like those shown on TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras (for a more complete analysis of participation in child beauty pageants, check out a paper I recently published in the journal Childhood). The majority of the pageant moms I met explain that they have their children involved to help ensure that they will be successful later in life.

One pageant mom explains, “I just want to see my daughters go somewhere—go somewhere in life. I didn’t. I ended up having kids right away. I’m stuck at home now. I’m doing this for them.” The idea that pageants can teach children specific skills that will help girls be successful was brought up literally hundreds of times in interviews with pageant mothers. There are eight major skills mentioned by moms (in decreasing order of frequency): learning confidence, learning to be comfortable on stage and in front of strangers, learning poise, learning how to present the self and dress appropriately, learning to practice, learning good sportsmanship, learning how to be more outgoing, and learning to listen. Of course, these are lessons and skills the moms want their children to learn and the children may not actually be learning them…But that’s a subject for another blog entry!

What do you think—can you think of other sociological explanations that explain participation in child beauty pageants? What might some “big name” sociological theorists, like Pierre Bourdieu and Thorstein Veblen, offer as explanations? Have you ever thought about doing a beauty pageant, perhaps even to help cover the costs of college?

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Comments

Hey Hilary! As many times as I wanted to put Megan in a pageant, I just couldn't. I didn't want her viewed as "a piece of meat" or "cute little girl" who was doing things beyond her years. I am so impressed that you are researching this area of childhood for young girls. The moms that are doing this to their children should really ask themselves, "Why?". They can learn all the skills you mentioned in different activities that children do during their childhood! They can also learn them in SCHOOL. Why didn't your mother put you in any pageants when you were younger? I didn't want Megan growing up thinking being cute or beautiful was the way to "make it in life". I told her that beauty comes from the inside of someone and not the way they look. Someone can be the most beautiful person on the outside, but inside can be a mean, cruel, nasty person and not happy with themself. Way to go, Hilary on your research. Keep up the great work!! I wanted a daughter who was confident in herself and believed in herself. I think her dad and I did a great job.

Hello Hilary :) As a child I did want to participate in pageants because I liked the idea of dressing up and possibly winning a crown. I do watch toddlers&tiaras and I think the pageants give the children a sense of confidence and teach them that you should always try your best. However I don’t like the pushy parents that suck the fun out of the pageants. I would even participate in a pageant to pay for college. The media also encourages the participation of young children in beauty pageants. Shows like America's Next Model glamorize dressing up and putting on makeup which is something they do in beauty pageants. The media also portrays beauty queens as beautiful women with picture perfect smiles. And what little girl wouldn’t want to be a part of that? I believe that beauty pageants could have a positive effect on children by teaching them to speak eloquently and by building confidence

I really enjoy this website. It discuss current events and real life issuess. It helps me to understand the situations that occurs when I'm watching what's in the media. individual's can learn from the various topics of discussions in regards to situations at home or in their communities. I would like to thank my wonderful Professor Dr. Wilder for directing me to this particular website. This is something I can continue to use after graduation.
Thanks Dr. Wilder.

Personally I have participated in a pageant. I was in my high schools pageant and I honestly can not tell you why I tried it, I just did. I am glad that I did though. I learned so many new things by participating. I learned proper table etiquette, how to speak properly with elegance, how to walk properly, stand and sit properly, how to be successful in interviews, and confidence among other things. I gained new friends, people of whom I probably would have never associated with before the pageant and I learned to have more confidence in myself. I even learned how to properly put on makeup (without caking it on and looking unnatural).

There are superficial things associated with pageants, but there is so much more that many do not understand until they have participated. I use to be one of those people that thought pageants were ridiculous and I still do think that "Beauty Pageants" are. I do not believe that children, or even adults should be judged on their "beauty" because beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is what is on the inside that counts. With that said, child "beauty pageants" are not a good way for these parents to be "teaching their children," however if there is a pageant that is not beauty based then I am all for including children in the experience.

I think that many parents do get their children into pageants young because they believe it will help them gain new skills at a young age, setting them up to be more successful in life later. Although like I said, a "beauty pageant" is not the way to go, especially for young and impressionable minds. No little child should be wearing makeup and especially not to impress judges.

I believe that there are many reasons why mothers put their daughters or sons in beauty pageants. First, we have the standard; "I feel like I am nothing but I will pretend i am the greatest and my daughter will prove it by winning the pageant, it’s all about me me me!” Unfortunately there are many mothers out there who have this kind of attitude and I am afraid that their daughters will not learn anything good from the contests. Then we have the so called "obsessed" mothers, who truly believe that their children are the most amazing, fantastic, beautiful creatures that have ever walked on this earth, the problem begins when a child develops a personality...Often times the little girls who were forced by their mothers to compete in those shows end up "hating" their moms and spend most of their lives constantly looking for approval and recognition from others. Finally, there are a few moms out there who will let their daughters participate in the beauty contests simply to show them such aspect of life, their main goal is to teach their children, not benefit themselves. Such moms also take their children to soccer lessons, foreign language classes and sub kitchens

I don't believe that beauty pageants are a bad idea, if it is what the child decides SHE wants to do it. There are many things you can learn from a pageant, an important one being confidence. However, on the show, like you mentioned, the moms are too crazy and way too pushy. I believe that this has a counter effect on the pageant, such as losing confidence in themselves with the pushy moms. Also parents that force their children to do things, make the activity no longer fun and enjoyable for the kids.

Hello Hilary.
I think that beauty pageants can be beneficial, but in turn, become obsessive and blown out of proportion. I believe that the pageants can help a childs self esteem and confidence levels immensely. However, if the parent is unhealthily pushy and obsessive instead of being purely supportive, then that behavior can be passed to the child. This can make him/her more intent upon their own looks or performance instead of just having fun like a kid should!

Emily Favreau

I have a little sister who is six and I would not bring myself to terms if my mother would ever consider of enrolling her in a beauty contest. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Toddlers & Tiaras, and it is fascinating, but when I think about putting heaps of make-up on her, 2 coats of a fake tan, fake teeth and loads of hairspray on my sister, to me it seems that I am saying, “yes you are beautiful, but you need all of this to be beautiful in their eyes.” No wonder girls today have low self-esteem? No wonder women think they should be thin, and flawless? No wonder women are seen more as a prop than a human? We have been taught to look and act perfect all our lives. And learning at such an early age. It is dehumanizing. Adding in prancing on stage like a sack of meat while mothers look on with dollar signs on their eyes. I honestly don’t believe putting a child in beauty pageants is such a great idea to mend a perfect child.

These pageants are another example of a society institution that merely feeds into the gender roles of society. These shows have girls "dolled-up" and in their best dress, dancing on stage and singing which feeds into the set gender roles that roughly state "a girl should be delicate and caring" what about the girls who are not delicate or caring? I agree that these shows impact "normal" society in the sense that it portrays these girls and their mind set that they need to be beautiful and thin to go win. P agents reinforce the gender roles implemented by society and they also negatively impact society's views of an ideal woman.

I personally do not agree with child beauty pageants. At such a young age, these girls are being forced how to look and speak in front of the judges which gives them the wrong impression of how a normal child should act. Parents say participating in the pageants gives their child confidence and a good learning experience, but if you want that for your child they should get it from a nurturing environment like School. Teaching girls that being beautiful with loads of make up on with teased hair is the definition of what it means to be an acceptable and pretty girl. They do not learn to love themselves, they learn the opposite. At such a young age they are being picked poked at for every imperfection, when they should be supported and experience a normal childhood.

I, too, watch Toddlers & Tiaras and King of the Crown. I watch them not as a pageant lover, but as someone in complete astonishment. I never get tired of watching this circus.
Everytime I watch Toddlers & Tiaras, I find myself with my mouth wide open and my head constantly shaking. It is disgusting to me that mothers push their daughters into wearing pounds of make-up, and take out loans to buy the gaudiest dress in a shop. What happened to teaching children that they are "beautiful they way they are"?
I agree that most of these mothers put their daughters in pageants to "show them off" they way they never were. As a performance dancer, I understand the concept of flashy costumes and stage make-up. But I also understand the idea of a PERFORMANCE. I feel pageant children are being taught that the skills (eyebrow-waxing and fake-tanning) they learn in modern "glitz" pageants are real-life skills. This just is not so.
Self-pride and confidence are wonderful; but these children should be taught to take pride in themSELVES, and not in a pre-packaged appearance.

I think the statement that Hilary makes saying that these mothers that enroll their daughters in these pagents are really trying to live the life they couldn't through their kids. We are all socialized to want to be better then those before us and I think all parents want their kids to succeed to a greater extent then they did. In my opinion these pagents are just reaffirming this notion of what beauty is in our society. It shows these girls from an extremely young age that if they don't look or present themselves in a certain way that they aren't beautiful.
This then also reinforces the inequlity in gender a class status

Hi, Hilary!
I'm a senior in high school and my teachers have decided to experiment with the senior class and have them do an Independent Senior Project or affectionately called (ISP) for graduation. You know, the typical "if you don't do well, you won't graduate" threat and coincidentally I'm doing my project on beauty pageants. I was wondering if you could help me in completing my project.. you don't have to!
But.. it would be great to talk with someone that has experience in the sociology field.. and since you did a research paper on it too, I was wondering if you have any pointers for me.

Thanks in advance

These pageants are good in theory to empower young women into strong independent adults, but more often than none that ideal is lost in physical appearances and greed. With movies like Little Miss Sunshine, Miss Congeniality, and even Bruno you can see these pageants just dumb down our society. In Bruno when Sasha Baren Cohen asks mothers if they are willing to put their kids in mini Nazi suits and as Roman soldiers crucifying Christ. These mothers will do anything to gain some spotlight back on their 40/50 year old selves.

I believe that beauty pageants are a good way for young individuals to learn life skills and help them to grow along the way. If pagenats strayed away from the over bearing nature of putting an image of what a pageant model should look like in the heads of young adults it would be great, but they dont. Many parents today have created "barbie replicas" of their little girls. I recently saw a girl under the age of ten whose mother had the dentist install fake teeth on her own child. The extents the mothers go to for a win in a pageant isn't worth thew childs constant suffering.

I agree with William that pageants can help to mature and stregthen women, but quite often they do a lot more harm than good. I do not agree with young children in beauty pageants because as others have said, it teaches them that they have to put on make-up and change their bodies into something that they were never meant to be in order to look beautiful. It's sad to see the children being pushed by their parents so hard, and it seems to me that a lot of the mothers are living vicariously through these young girls. Unfortunately, it caould lead them down a path of distruction, beacause they grow up with a mindset that they are constantly performing and seeking praise, sometimes going too far to get it. Our society places so much emphasis on "bought" beauty, and that that is the only acceptable way to be. It's a constant struggle. That could be a reason that mothers do put their daughters in these pageants, so they can secure their childs future of being accepted...

I agree of not taking pictures of a dead body of a person. I do not care how good you are on photography. We still have to pay a respect to our love ones.

i think there is anything wrong with taking pictures of a dead body, if the reason is good..
well, that is just me..

i dont think there is anything wrong with taking pictures of a dead body, if the reason is good..
well, that is just me..

Little girls in beauty pageants has its pros and cons just like everything else. But when I watch the shows like that and see what these babies go through from thier mothers it makes me sick. (I would just like to say that not ALL the mothers act this way). These children are not learning life skills, they are learning how to keep in place the system of inequality for women. It shows these girls that looks are how you are successful in life instead of using your brain!

I will say I am guilty of watching the beauty pageant shows on TV. I have watched them since I was little and something about them has always interested me. Personally I have never participated in a pageant, but I believe that they can be good in some situations. The pageants that offer scholarships can be very beneficial because in the end they have a purpose other than judging girls on their beauty. Mothers that put thier babies and little children in these pageants have to be careful that they are not sending thier children the wrong messege that beauty is the only thing that is important.

Having a little girl in a beauty pageant has its pros and cons. There are many things a child can learn from a pageant just like there are things a child can learn from being on a team or from playing sports. I did particapte in a pageant as a child because i liked getting all dressed up.I do not believe that my mother forced me into it or was living vicariously through me, in fact my mother was not very interested in the pageant but supported me a 100 percent with my decision to particapte. I also think that they are not sending the message that beauty is the most important thing, many of these pageants have a very serious interview process, thses pageant require you to be smart and a well rounded person.

I have watched the beauty pageant shows on television and would have to say that I am constantly asking myself why would a mother put her child through such a thing? Of course there are some positive life skills that their child can learn as mentioned in the blog but the negative out ways them. From being entered into these pageants at such a young age girls and boys learn that outer appearances are far more important than the inside. Being dolled up with heavy makeup, outfits that cost in the thousands, and being forced to stand on the stage while judges critique your every move is very heart wrenching. Children should not be taught that you have to change your outer appearance in order to fit into society they should be taught that they are beautiful just the way that they are. The money that parents put into the pageants could be used toward their college education instead.

Is it so terrible for a child to be beautiful? If a child had other attributes that set him/her above other children then that skill or whatever it may be would most likely be exploited. A good example of this is Tiger Woods. He was pushed by his father to play every day and now look at what he has become. I see nothing wrong with beauty pagents. And what of the expression "love at first sight!" This is saying that that individual saw looks before personality and so many couples use this as the basis for their relationship.

I agree that mothers who put their daughters in child beauty pageants are trying to live vicariously through their child. Although that child might learn some life skills, I think it raises them to have a false sense of reality. I believe that it teaches young girls that looks are the most important thing in life. These pageants, parades and the people that participate in them are part of the reason that we view women as sex objects and why people are always judging women on their outer beauty. Honestly, it is disgusting to me those mothers put their daughters in these competitions and basically teach their daughters that they are not naturally beautiful. It’s appalling that these girls are placed on stage after getting their eyebrows waxed, fake tans, and pounds of make up on, just to be ridiculed by a room full of people and judges. I think that children should be taught about inner beauty and not feel like they need to change their outer appearance to impress their mothers or anyone else for that matter. I think mothers need to grow up and stop parading their daughters around town like a trophy. They need to find pride in their own life and not in their daughter’s looks. I have never thought about participating in beauty pageants and I’m glad I wasn’t raised in a family that believes in it. I believe in working hard in school and/or sports and getting a scholarship based on those attributes alone.

I don't see the harm in allowing girls to do pageants if they are the ones who want to. And as for them being sex objects I think that is funny because it is no different then when women and men go in to the modeling world. They are all pretty so whats the big deal? I mean who thinks sex when looking at Miss America? Lol people just make a big deal about everything nowadays and they just need to relax life is to short to nit pick everything.

I enjoyed this article. I think some of these posts really share with the world one of our main problems. I find it sad that women (and particularly children) are MADE to be beautiful. This self image projected highlights our county's main problem that goes along with materialism. It is sad that parents promote this notion of false appearances.

I feel that children beauty pageants ...in fact all beauty pageants are wrong bacause it puts a label on what beauty is in today's society. Exploiting little children and not really stopping to see if they really would lke to participate in the pageants bothers me. It feels that some parents are living through their children and should enter theirselves into pageants instead of their children.

I was instantly attracted to this article because the shows in which it was talking about in the introduction are shows that I used to watch regularly as they were a really interesting look into the pageant life for young children. I thought it was just amazing how hard these parents truly pushed their children when it came to wardrobe, make up, and hair. They way their parents barked orders and them and spoke to these young ones as adults always felt unsettling to the stomach. I find it interesting that child beauty pageants, parades, and etc. were first established as a way to value children, however, I find it quite ironic that today these spectacles have almost devalued children devastatingly.

I have seen part of a child beauty pageant and it is incredible how much that mother stresses about how "perfect" her daugther looks. A mother should find her daughter beautiful, without make-up, hairspray, and fancy dresses. Children are beautiful for their innocence and for their untouched smooth skin and bright eyes. The thought of mother's caking on making up and teasing their hair just bothers me. I too agree that mothers are trying to live through their young, but unfortunately I think this is the worst way possible. I feel like putting their daughters through pageants gives them a false sense of security and will lead to self-esteem problems as they get older. Mothers should be focusing on putting their kids through dance lessons, piano lessons, and playing sports like softball of soccor. These activities build a strong sense of self and a strong character unlike these pageants.

I have seen part of a child beauty pageant and it is incredible how much that mother stresses about how "perfect" her daugther looks. A mother should find her daughter beautiful, without make-up, hairspray, and fancy dresses. Children are beautiful for their innocence and for their untouched smooth skin and bright eyes. The thought of mother's caking on making up and teasing their hair just bothers me. I too agree that mothers are trying to live through their young, but unfortunately I think this is the worst way possible. I feel like putting their daughters through pageants gives them a false sense of security and will lead to self-esteem problems as they get older. Mothers should be focusing on putting their kids through dance lessons, piano lessons, and playing sports like softball of soccor. These activities build a strong sense of self and a strong character unlike these pageants.

Nope, I have never wanted to be in a pageant. Sure it seems nice but It also seems to give people the right to deem girls as beautiful airheads. I see it as someone wanting to always look better than everyone else. there are so many differences in beauty that vary through out the world. no should be able to judge beauty.

I think the way women are displayed in pageants can be demeaning to all women. Take a look at Miss South Carolina, she was probably under so much pressure and stress from being in the pageant that it made her talk like an idiot, and now she's in commercials that are making fun of herself! I think it is ridiculous.

Hi I read your blog entry here and I think that your research is interesting and I am also opposed to pageants. I would like to read your article in the journal Childhood because I am a sophomore in high school and I am doing a research paper on the same topic. Is there any way I can open this without having to pay $25 to see it?? I am just looking for concrete facts and stuff.
Thanks!!

I think the way women are displayed in pageants can be demeaning to all women. Take a look at Miss South Carolina, she was probably under so much pressure and stress from being in the pageant that it made her talk like an idiot, and now she's in commercials that are making fun of herself! I think it is ridiculous.

No I never considered doing pageants to help pay for anything the really don't interest me in any kind of way. It takes to much in my opinion. But I do think many mother use this to live their lives through the daughters which is sad but true.

hi Hilary,
I am completing a research paper for my first year university sociology course on glitz child beauty pageants as a subculture. The main questions i need to address are the mainstream culture or the culture of capitalism and identity for this subculture. If you had any information or academic/ scholarly references that would be amazing!
Thanks

In my perspective, this article explains why majority of mothers put their daughters in beauty pageants, to get well known and be out there, also explore what the mother herself didn't do as growing up. Maybe another reason would be for self confidence that a mother wants to show to the people she knows, to show that her young daunters is doing big things in life, at a very young age. Thats my believe but then again i don't think there is another explanation from all that have been pointed out in this article. Know putting young girls in beauty pageants has its goods and its bad, for the reason that young girls don't need to be put n things like their young and don't know what best for them yet, i bet half of those little girls that are put in beauty pageants only want to be normal and play with their barbies, there not little toys that could be played with. But in the good side i could say that if they keep doing beauty pageants as he grow they would be confident to talk to others and also even get scholarships like Hilary Levey mentioned.

To Dr. Pih,

Child beauty pageants is a very subjective area. As a child I started to get letters from Miss Teen USA, Pasadena Pageant, etc. Pageants in general do not have much benefit in careers unless you are wanting to going to the entertainment industry and that is where it teaches you value. Kids and teens who enter in these contests are up against thousands of people who want to be in the same place, just like an actor is going for the same role casting directors been trying to cast for weeks. These competitions teach kids to strive for something bigger than reality, for a dream. Other things like financial stability do play a big factor in it too but that is separate to my argument here. Parents of these children do it for many reasons, to do what they could not, to get money, to get fame, or simply to try pursue something their child might be interested in. Beauty pageants is just another form of entertainment and of course society is going to be sucked into the next thing the media produces.

This article was so true and really focused on todays issues. Some parents think putting their children in pageants will get their child out there. In reality it just shows society that you are setting your child up to be aware of all the stereotypes and images that it puts on society. Parents believe that it will make a child stand out to others when in reality that child will face the impact on popularity in the society we are from. Everyone wants to be the best the can, or even be slightly noticed at times but that doesn't always have to happen through television. Beauty pageants are pure competition against others and a child so young should not have to face that. i think a child should love their inner body and by putting these children on TV at so young it can cause a negative outlook on life. Why are we always trying to better ourselves, a child under ten should not have to worry about what makeup color to wear or what ways they are fix themselves? I feel like education and growing up should come before placing a child in competition against other people.

Many pageant mothers justify their decisions to allow their child to participate by saying that pageants build character and sportsmanship and teach their children skills that they will use throughout their lives. From the observation from a third party opinion the children shown on "Toddlers in Tiaras" are anything but well behaved and poised. The are often shown throwing tantrums and displaying poor sportsmanship towards other participants. They also have a clouded view of what "beauty" really should mean to young women. Instead they are filled with the idea that to be beautiful they must be spray tanned, wear fake hair, fake teeth, and be in full make up. Sociologically, I believe the mothers of these girls fell that they are setting their daughters up for "success." In modern society we associate beauty and charisma with success as we see in tabloids and gossip tv.

I have seen the show Toddlers and Tiaras and I think it is horrible how mothers put their young daughters in these pageants and convince them that they enjoy it. Most of the time the children are complaining about waking up too early, and spending too much time practicing. I feel like this should be considered child abuse because these kids are being taken away from a normal childhood to compete against each other in inappropriate outfits. I thinks mothers should be encouraging their children to study and follow their passions. They should also be providing a stimulating environment to ensure their children grow up to be successful in their careers and in school.

I've watched a few episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras, and also the spinoff they made about one particular contestant: Honey Boo Boo. While I don't see anything wrong with helping these girls develop social skills and self esteem, I think that these mothers don't really know what they want for their children or what their children want for themselves. These mothers think they're doing something good for their kids by placing them in a competition with hundreds of contestants and a slim chance of winning. Most of these girls go home crying after they lose and these mothers just convince them that they'll get it next time... Instead of wasting hundreds of dollars on a slim chance, they could be saving up for their kids future and education. I think these mothers long for their daughters to gain recognition for their own self-confidence and fame.

I do not believe that mothers that put their children into pageants do it for themselves. I think that its a part of the American culture. It is a cultural norm, a part of American society and very normal to do so. It is as normal as putting your son or daughter on a sports team. Pierre Bourdieu would probably classify this a field, a structured social space with its own rules, and that putting kids into baby pageants was part of the american field or culture. At the end of the day I don't think that there is anything wrong with children in beauty pageants and we should not point fingers at parents who push their kids to do well

I believe it should be the childs' choice but, don't let them get out of hand. Make sure that they are having fun with it and not getting obsessed there is a boundary. Most parents force their children to do this for money. This is wrong it should be the childs' choice not the parent controlling them to do something they aren't comfortable with.

There are some young girls that wishes to be in a pageant however the majority are the wishes of the parents. Some because we feel that our children are so cute. I have seen where some children are not interested and do not want to participate and they are forced by parents. Children should be allowed to be children. Some children know that they want to participate in pageants and perform and love doing it. I agree when we put fake eyebrows on them wax them and add pounds of hair they look like a little adult . Lets keep in mind these crazy pedifiles also.

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