I have two daughters aged nine and nearly seven. And I think they’re gorgeous.
That’s all the validation I need – my own Mammy-eyes, which would view my children as gorgeous no matter what they looked like.
I don’t need to enter them in pageants for strangers to assess them and decide whether or not my two measure up to some one else’s notion of beautiful.
It seems, however, that one woman is of the opinion that there are enough parents in Ireland who disagree with me for her to make a few bob. This woman, Jorja Gudge, is hoping to bring a beauty pageant for girls under the age of 18 to Ireland next month.
Entitled ‘Miss Princess Ireland’ this pageant is slated to take place on April 30th in Dublin. According to Ms Gudge,
‘There will be three rounds which are; Sportswear this is any sporting wear (with a glitz touch). It could be dance wear, swimwear, football, gymnastics etc… any sport at all.’
Leaving aside the fact that I don’t think dancing is a sport, I am very uncomfortable with the idea of young girls parading in sports wear – whether or not said sportswear has a ‘glitz touch’. Virtually all sportswear is form-fitting and skimpy. I don’t think it’s appropriate for little girls to be dressed in bikinis or leotards and paraded in front of strangers who will then grade them on how beautiful they are.
Wearing form-fitting sportswear for actually playing sport is, of course, a completely different matter. I am happy to acknowledge that not all sports outfits that are form-fitting, but I’d be willing to bet that any child turning up in a tracksuit won’t win a prize.
Next up in this pageant is what Ms Gudge calls ‘wow’ wear/ outfit of choice. This can be ‘anything at all – fashion wear, occasion wear, fancy dress or theme wear.’
This is a bit vague, but I’d guess that the idea is to dress your girl in her most eye-catching gúna and hope she catches the eyes of the judges.
Last of all will be formal wear. Formal wear for children sounds innocuous enough – it makes me think of lovely summery flower girl dresses from Monsoon, but I don’t think that’s what Ms Gudge means. I googled ‘Beauty Pageants for Children’ and got lots of very disturbing images of little girls in flouncy, tacky, meringue-y, dresses that were obviously styled along the lines of ball gowns for women.
‘Also make up, hair pieces, tans etc are all permitted as this is a glitz pageant, but I will leave the decision to you on which level of glitz you decide to use,’ the organiser tells me.
Again, this is disturbing, because it implicitly tells children that they are not good enough or acceptable just the way they are. Why on earth would anyone want to use make-up, hair pieces or tans on their children in an attempt to win an ‘American-style crowns, sashes and tiaras’? What does that do to the self-esteem of participants?
When they grow up, how will these girls view themselves? Their sense of themselves, surely, will be very extrinsic? Surely, their confidence – instead of being bolstered will be damaged? And what is the use of telling a child that their worth is based purely on how they look – or how they can make themselves look by the addition of chemicals and synthetic hair-pieces?
I’m also disturbed by the fact that people attending will also be able to bring their video cameras, although they will only be permitted to video their own children. I do wonder, however, how the organiser hopes to police that one.
I don’t think that these kind of pageants do the children who take part any favours at all. I don’t think they learn any positive lessons from them – and I think they are more about satisfying the desires and dreams of their parents (usually their mothers) than anything else.
I am hoping that the parents of Ireland will avoid this pageant – and ones like it – and spare their children the damage that could potentially be done to them.