Beauty Pageants for Children should be Banned: Protecting Child Well-being

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Understanding Beauty Pageants

To begin, the question must first be asked, “What exactly is a beauty pageant?” A beauty pageant is a competition that is usually focused on intelligence, personality, and questions asked by a judge or judges. Many beauty pageants are found to be exploitative because of the thorough critiquing of contestants by audiences, parents, and judges. This constant demand to be perfect leads to the development of many psychological and physical problems in early childhood development. By exploring the many aspects of beauty pageants, it is easy to see the physical, emotional, and societal harms that are created in these competitions.

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The Physical Rigors of Beauty Pageants

It is common in the beauty world to use makeup and wear hair in many styles and forms, but in the pageant world, these two staples are amplified. Intense beauty regimens before the show often include spray-tans, teeth whitening, and eyebrow waxing, to name a few are just the beginning of a contestant’s day. Multiple parents even go as far as applying fake nails and hair dye to give their daughters an “edge” during competition.

Health and Psychological Risks in Beauty Pageants

In addition to the physical pain associated with these regimens that many young queens experience to achieve their pageant-winning looks. The regular use of pageant products creates the risk of developing serious long-term health risks. Such as teeth whitening kits. Dentists say overuse can cause irritation and discoloration of teeth and gums. These products pose major health risks for adults, so we have to imagine the detrimental damage they are inflicting upon these smaller children still developing bodies.

Many contestants are constantly consuming large amounts of sugar and caffeine throughout these long pageant competitions that can last up to twelve hours or longer to remain alert. We see this happening in many pageants. One mother, June, in particular, gained lots of media backlash by feeding her six-year-old daughter, Alana (“Honey Boo Boo Child”), a homemade drink, which she calls “go-go juice”. A concoction composed of Mountain Dew, Red Bull, and even sometimes adding in pixie sticks, better known as “ pageant crack,” to help her daughter stay attentive. “A 2011 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that excessive caffeine intake can lead to neurological and cardiovascular problems for young children.” Over-consumption of caffeine can lead to behavioral and mood-altering effects on children and can cause anxiety and lower attention spans in education.

During these pageants, the look of disappointment on the parents’ faces in the audience showcases how challenging it can be for parents to deal with their children on stage losses. Some even believe that mothers push their daughters into the pageant world due to their own lack of self-esteem or lack of attention in their own lives. Many mothers communicate how they see themselves in their daughters as almost exact replicas of themselves on stage. This can have a big impact on the child when performing, a lot of children do not want to disappoint their mothers if they do not win the prize. “As eight-year-old Tiffany explains, “[W]hen your name’s not called, you might be sad with yourself?”. Seven-year-old Morgan adds, “When I don’t win, I feel guilty.” (Wolfe 435). Girls suffer from lower self-esteem than boys. This has been proven in numerous case studies. This means that a toddler population is always more susceptible to an attack on self-esteem. The present pageant scene can cause young participants to believe that they should seek love and approval from their parents through their beauty and their continued success in pageant competitions.

“Intense participation in activities that spotlight physical appearance instills the idea that physical beauty and superficial charm are the keys to success, thus making self-worth and self-esteem inextricably tied to attractiveness.” (Wolfe and Cartwright 427). This leads to the creation of “Princess Syndrome,” an unhealthy motivation to achieve physical perfection that can lead to unhappiness with one’s body leading to the potential development of eating disorders in life. This is all due to the extreme emphasis on physical beauty in pageants. Many pageants specify or value thinness. Using age categories such as Little Miss Glitz or Tiny Miss USA. Parents’ pressure can have just as big of an impact on a girl’s chance of developing a disfigured body image.

Beauty Pageants for Children Should Be Banned

Children are already being forced to grow up too fast. Representing children, specifically young girls, in the public eye as sexual objects urges them to grow up even faster. As well as creating this acceptance of voyeurism, the practice of obtaining sexual gratification from observing others (Merriam-Webster). That can lead to major criminal activities like child pornography and child exploitation. “..Pageants harm women as a class and contribute to gender-related criminal activities like sexual assault and domestic violence.”

Feminine scholars have argued the subject of sex stereotyping and the lasting damage it inflicts upon young girls and women of all ages. Sex stereotyping is a primary function in child beauty pageants. Sequin gowns, shiny crowns, and model walks are just a few examples to show how these pageants embody the Barbie standard/culture for feminine beauty in our society. This misplaced emphasis on feminism encourages women to use their beauty as a currency or exchange for power.

“Young women raised in a culture that praises them for acting as vacant, painted dolls are likely to grow up relying on the heteronormative stereotype of the fragile and subservient women, leaving them more vulnerable to sexual assault and violence.” Pageant life interferes with healthy child development. We need to create more regulations for child beauty pageants that prevent anything that can cause physical or psychological damage. “The comparable effects on a child’s mind, body, and self-esteem call for state protections similar to those offered through child entertainment laws.” Which only allows child entertainers to work if they have a work permit. These laws include regulations on hours of work, working conditions, and prohibited practices.

These pageant participants should be considered entertainers. Through modeling, acting, and dancing, these contestants provide a show to the viewers. These government regulations are vital to the growth and development of children in order for them to gain healthy life goals and high levels of self-esteem and self-worth. States individually should begin working on finding ways to protect participants through legal regulations. We must supervise the organization of these pageant shows, provide safe working conditions, and require counseling. This action is significant in the works of protecting these beauty pageant contestants as well as future generations of children.


  1. Smith, J. A.  The Psychological and Physical Impacts of Child Beauty Pageants.
  2. Johnson, L. B., & Miller, C. D. Self-Esteem and Identity Formation in Child Beauty Pageant Participants.
  3. Thompson, R. E. Societal Implications of Child Beauty Pageants: Gender Roles and Sexualization.
  4. Adams, T. J., & Martinez, K. L. Regulatory Measures for Child Beauty Pageants: Protecting Children’s Well-being.
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Beauty Pageants for Children Should Be Banned: Protecting Child Well-being. (2023, Aug 09). Retrieved from