Beauty Pageants and Disorders

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Every little girl dreams about being in a beauty pageant one time or another in their life. We dream about wearing those dazzling gowns, showing off our most secret talents, and getting through those scary questions that puts you on the spot. Little girls love makeup so when they get the chance to put it on they take any chance they can to do so. Television only shows their viewers what happens in front of the camera, but never really show us what happens actually behind the scenes. We see on television these supermodels with their skinny figures, perfect hair and teeth, all the money in the world, but it shows what it takes behind the scenes to show what they did to get there. The girls who are exposed to this think that they’re not pretty enough or skinny enough, so they go to change themselves because it shows what the “ideal” body image should look like which isn’t fair. Beauty pageants are just as terrible when convincing girls to change their appearance because that is what will help them achieve what they believe they absolutely must have. I am arguing these facts with three main issues on why children’s beauty pageants should be banned.

Since the rising of television and internet, beauty pageants has become an internet popularity. It’s as simple as clicking on Youtube and begin searching topics related to beauty pageants and videos will pop up from all around. You can also watch on TLC to see Toddlers and Tiaras, Here Comes Honey-Boo-Boo, Dance Moms, and many other popular shows that project girls competing these pageants. According to the entitled article, “ Must-know beauty pageant statistics,” “2.5 million girls participate in 100,000 beauty pageants each year in the U.S.” Beauty pageants have become the focus of society now, but no one ever realizes the negative impact that it has on the girls in these competitions.

The first negative effect that comes with beauty pageants is it lowers the self-esteem of each girl competing . As we may sit down in front of a television screen and watch Toddlers and Tiaras, and never know that there’s something truly is wrong with each of those little girls. The television screen helps disguise what the truth is that is going on in that little girl's mind and life. The media, aside peers and parents, is a big contributor to lower one's self-esteem (Henson).

The media is like a special effect behind a girl's life. We have all heard the saying that the tv adds an extra 10 pounds to anyone on there no matter how much makeup you got on. The girls are oblivious to it because of how much of their own personal life is being invaded with a TV show. The first Little Miss America began in the 1960’s and evolved into 250,000 pageants worldwide which brings in about $20 billion yearly (Rosche). The pageants are making money off of girls not being true to themselves and plumbing their health. Showing children off as sexual objects encourages them to grow too fast and increasingly change them to be accepted in society (Wolfe).

Beauty pageants may seem like it’s fun an all but no one really sees the truth behind it. Girls are not the only ones being affected by these objectives. Adult men and boys are being raised by learning what the “ideal” woman body should be like for them. Competing in these such competitions are affecting both sexually and mentally (“Must-Know”). Every single pageant these girls are competing in puts themselves in increased danger because of all the wrong type of people out here today in this world. The parents and how they act can lead to physical, emotional, and societal harm (Wolfe). Other than the dangers of being stalked or hurt by these sick kind of people their mental health is at risk also. People are carefully deciding that these beauty pageants attract predators because of the way their parents expect them to dress (Rosche).

Depression is caused by several health reasons, but in beauty pageants girls are constantly on edge mode because they want to be absolutely perfect. Lucy Wolfe, author of the review, “Darling Divas or Damaged Daughters? The Dark Side of Child Beauty Pageants and an Administrative Law Solution,” states that “ In addition to immediate physical pain, the regular use of certain popular pageant products can cause serious, long-term health risks” (Wolfe). Having some kind of disorder makes girls more likely to be attacked and have their self-esteem decreased (Mapes). The girls are put through irrelevant activities throughout the competitions because of their absolute desire to win each and every competition. Pageants make money off of these girls going through these activities. Scholars have written books and journals on these such subjects and the damages it inflicts on them (Rosche). Beauty pageants make sure it is known that everyone in the facility is taken care of no matter what state they're in, but all they want is money. It’s like they have no feelings both health.

Doctors highly agree that pageants have negative body issues that results in such disorders (Rosche). The stress, anxiety, starvations, and perfection can drain a little girl faster than simply having time spent with friends. The more you stress the more at risk you are with hurting your immune system. According to the article, “Am I Too Fat to Be a Princess? Examining the Effects of Popular Children’s Media on Young Girls’ Body Image,” states that, “researchers are focusing on underlying factors by exploring sociocultural influences such family, peers, and the media” (Hayes and Dunn). Parents don’t seem to truly realize how much pressure they put on their children through because all they want is for them to be the one to wow the judges. The parents want to have all the attention even though their kids are the ones being put through the torture. Children put their own health at risks every time they get into a competition just to please their parents.

While pageants have a negative effect on their self-esteem there is a positive side to it also. Pageants are a way to gain confidence, to be outgoing, and have a positive self-image (“Who’s”) . Being in pageants is a way to gain friends because of the amount of time you spend with them. Not to mention the amount of competitions you are in with each other. Even though the girls competing in these pageants may seem popular, that may not be the whole truth. Some girls who do these competitions may actually be bullied (“Who’s”). Beauty pageants are a way to overcome many things. For example, overcoming being afraid (“Who’s”). Some girls struggle with being in front of crowds and speaking aloud in front of them. Beauty pageants give them the confidence and practice to work on these things. Later on they can become really good at public-speaking ('Who’s”). This can be a big help later on life. Especially while applying for jobs and future schooling. Being able to be good at public-speaking can help win the title. Although you don’t win money at beauty pageants, you can earn a college scholarship (“Who’s”).

The second negative effect that comes with competing in beauty pageants is the idea of the perfect “body image.” Society plays a huge part in girls starving and altering their bodies to fit in what is considered the normal. There will never not be a time in a girl’s life where no one will bring her self- esteem down or telling her she's too “fat” or “skinny.” Research has shown that the children younger than 5 are concerned about their own self images (Hayes and Dunn). The girls who are being entered into pageants are being persuaded to lose weight, whiten their teeth, get hair extensions, or many other kind of traumatic changes to their bodies to what is considered the normal. No one asks them what they think is right because they’re just little kids and parents know what is best for them. Sociocultural factors appear to began coming on stronger with dissatisfying body images (Hayes and Dunn). The female’s are exposed to these types of changes because of the peer pressure their competition or their parents. The girls starve themselves permanently and put crazy products in their body just to fit in what the society calls normal.

Beauty pageant contestants are down in their health and are extremely exhausted because of the stress that is put on during these competitions. Over half of six year olds today think they’re fat, and by the time the child is nine they’re already on a diet (Mapes). Sharon Hayes and Stacey Tantleff-Dunn, authors of the article, “ Am I Too Fat to Be a Princess? Examining the Effects of Popular Children’s Media on Young Girls’ Body Image,” states that “girls as young as 6 years old experiences body dissatisfaction.” These pageants teach young girls to look at themselves as something they aren’t and judge themselves on how they look (Mapes). The little girls work hard to train their bodies the way that their parents want them to be. The parents are the ones who are believed to be the one who cared more about the competition than the child does.

Martina Cartwright warns that the competition of pageant scenes may cause a child to believe that their parents love and accept them only because of how much the accomplish in the competitions only if they do well (Wolfe). Parents are the main reason why a child changes how they look because their acceptance from their parents is what matters the most to them. Parents go into extreme measures to “enhance” their own child’s performance to increase their chances of being the winner (Wolfe). Parenting can have an extreme amount of negative impact on a girl's chance of growing up with an uncomfortable body image. Starvation is their most common concern while being involved in pageants because that’s what they believe is right way to be able to win the crown. Besides from the substantial amount of money use; there’s emphasis on one's looks which may affect the well-being in both the child’s mental and physical health (Rosche).

Although beauty pageants have some bad kinks they can also bring them together because of the long periods of times they have spent together working/competing. According to the review, “Darling Divas or Damaged Daughters? The Dark Side of Child Beauty Pageants and an Administrative Law Solution,” the author states that “ Intense participation in activities that spotlight physical appearances instills the idea that physical beauty and superficial charm are the keys to success” (Wolfe). Beauty pageants being publicized on television hide the real truth what goes on behind the scenes. 48.5% of the beauty pageant contestants want to be thinner and 57% were trying to become thinner (“Intriguing”).

Beauty pageants are full of a melting pot of mixed races and ages because of all the talent in the world. Each girl is different in their own way because of their talent level that they present at the pageants. Jennie Lightweis Goff, author of the article, “ Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women: Race and Beauty in the Twentieth-Century South,” states that “ black women were attacked for both imitating whiteness and being too black.”

The final reason negative effect beauty pageants has on someone is that there is an increased amount in eating disorders. Everyone loves food that is a no brainer but there are people out there who starve themselves to the point they become to an unhealthy weight. Beauty pageants may seem like a great competition but there’s a dark side to them all that is always hidden from reality. In the article, “Must-know beauty pageant Statistics,” the author states “ In February 2007, the American Psychological Association released a report on the sexualization of girls. They found that girls who are exposed to hypersexualization media content can negatively impact their cognitive/emotional development, and is strongly associated with eating disorders.” Girl’s are exposed to many kinds of social media everyday of their life that shows what is considered what a real girl's body should look like.

Beauty pageants competitors strive for the “perfect” body because of the social medias standards of what it should look like. The girls would do anything so that they make sure their body is in absolute perfection so they could win the pageant. At least 30 million Americans will have an eating disorder during a period of time in their life (Mapes). There is always a risk of having an eating disorder because of the unhealthy choices it puts on someone’s body just so they can have the ideal body image.

Having an eating disorder either can make you extremely sick or you can die. 35 % of normal dieters can be lead on to pathological dieting, 20-25% lead to partial or full syndrome eating disorders (Mapes). A beauty pageant competitors indulge very large amounts of sugar and caffeine to remain in an alert state of mind (Wolfe). Onset eating disorders are starting at a younger age (Rosche). Especially being apart of a beauty pageant can cause someone to have an eating disorder at an early stage in life because of the constant mind set of needing a perfect body. Bodily impairment is another cause of having a health risk (Wolfe). Eating behaviors are starting to show more and more in nine year olds who display body struggling (Hayes and Dunn). People who come to the competitions to watch can never tell that one has a eating disorder because of the amount of makeup and clothing they are putting on. A study shows that girls who grew up where in that household weight and beauty is a most common topic of discussion will most likely have an eating disorder (Wolfe).

Parents will do anything in their power to make sure that their children wins that competition because they want to be known as parents of that girl who won this pageant or pageants. Parents combine Mt. Dew and Red Bull together to help their children stay up to standards during these competition (Wolfe). According to the article, “Fat’ Comment Report Highlights Beauty Queen Body Issues,” the author states that “ The Miss America Organization does not have a policy relating specifically to eating disorders” (Mapes). The FDA makes sure every parent knows that every time when a child wears fake eyelashes can cause eye problems or even blindness (Wolfe). Princess syndrome is an unhealthy lifestyle which causes the child to achieve what is known as physical perfection which leads to many dissatisfactions with their body and leads to a higher likelihood of habit disorders later in life (Wolfe).

In conclusion beauty pageants have several more negative side effects than the ones I have pointed out in this paper. The ones I discussed are the three most important topics because they’re the ones we all face every single day of our lives even if we aren’t competing for that crown. Beauty pageants are not all fun and glamour, but exhausting and dangerous. Little kids being put through beauty pageants are more than likely to develop some kind of eating disorder and depression. Just because winning the competitions mean you have a title and money doesn’t mean a child’s health isn’t more important and at more of a risk. Parents are the ones who can lead their children into risky stages in their lives where they are deeply depressed and think they aren’t good enough in their parents eyes without that title. 

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Beauty Pageants and Disorders. (2022, Feb 03). Retrieved November 29, 2023 , from

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