In a society where images of ‘beauty’ are depicted through the media on a daily basis, it is hardly surprising we are becoming a nation obsessed with our looks. Magazines inform us of the latest fashion trends, TV adverts which hair, make up and body products to use, and Giant Billboards dictate what type of body is considered ‘perfect’.
Following in the footsteps of America however with its TV series ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’, one can’t help but wonder if we have now gone a step too far? In June, the city of Leicester will host the first ever beauty pageant for little girls. Entitled ‘Miss Mini Princess UK’ the contest is specifically for girls aged up to 13 and will involve judgements on physical beauty, an eye catching outfit, a talent, and finally poise in evening wear.
Despite the contest already being slated as a ‘paedophiles paradise’ and organisers receiving hate mail, Robyn Sutherland, Mum of 23 month old Eleanor June Rees-Sutherland, plans on entering her daughter into the competition. Robyn has been quoted saying she doesn’t see what all the fuss is about, and can’t understand what’s wrong with making little girls look like a princess for the day. She says she enjoys dressing her daughter up and that Eleanor June loves make up too.
OnePoll asked a nationally representative sample of 1000 UK Adults what they thought about pageants, the associated risks, and whether it was appropriate for such young girls to be paraded and judged on their ‘beauty’.
The overall opinion of beauty pageants was negative with words such as ‘Pointless’ and ‘Tacky’ frequently being used to describe such events.
83% of adults said they didn’t think beauty pageants should be available for girls of this age and 86% of respondents said they wouldn’t let their daughter (aged 13 or under) in such a competition even if there was appropriate monitoring and security.
It would appear the majority of adults think the pageants are just too risky (78%) with the top 3 concerns being
- Sexualisation of Children 82%
- Obsessive/Pushy parents 81%
- Paedophile interest 72%
Furthermore, when asked what age they thought was appropriate for girls to start wearing makeup and fan tanning etc (procedures that are a ‘necessity’ for beauty pageants) the majority of respondents not only stated answers years ahead of Eleanor June, but also ages above 13 (the upper age threshold for the competition). Such findings suggest that adults think that the girls entering this pageant are simply too young to be ‘beautified’.
Indeed, these stats appeared to be echoed in respondent’s opinions on mum Robyn Sutherland - 81% of adults thought it was inappropriate for her to enter her daughter into the pageant. When asked why top answers included that Eleanor June was too young, and it wasn’t her choice to enter. Respondents thought Eleanor should be left to be a child and not judged on her looks from such a young age. Such pageants were described to promote the sexualisation of children.
A key point to remember here is that it is not ‘children’ in these pageants - it is in fact just girls. Boys will not be part of this competition and do not typically feature in ‘beauty pageants’. We asked respondents whether they thought beauty pageants should be available for boys/men?
12% said ‘Both boys and men’
11% said ‘No’, they were only appropriate for girls/women’.
The majority of adults (68%) however said No – because they simply didn’t agree with them altogether.
It would seem therefore the general consensus on such competitions is that they are exploitative, pushing children to adopt semi-sexualised adult mannerisms that they do not fully understand and enforcing the message that appearance is everything. Those in the pageant industry however still seem to insist that it is all just harmless fun and that they believe the competitions instil girls with confidence and self-esteem.
We would like to know your views on this subject – do you agree with beauty pageants? – let us know by commenting below…