Monday, 23 September 2013

Beauty Pageants, yay or nay?

We've all seen them on tv
On shows like Toddlers and Tiaras and Little Miss Perfect
Hair perfectly coiffed beauty queen style
Spray tanned such a deep mahogany that their eyes and teeth almost glow
And of course the 'I'd rather be anywhere than here' smile
They look like little dolls
Like charicatures of themselves
And of course behind every pageant kid is a competitive, slightly loopy mom

Ireland hosted one of it's first pageants on Saturday
It split the nation
It seems that the world is divided in to 2 types of people
Those who agree with pageants and those who don't
The debate continued on a popular Friday night talk show
3 ladies took part to defend the upcoming pageant
Annette Hill from Universal Royalty, the pageant organiser
Micki Wood, the mother of Eden Wood, a beauty queen from the US who appeared at the pageant on Saturday
And Stephanie an Irish mother whose daughter Ashling was competing

Micki Wood came across as a pushy, outspoken mama bear
She vehemently defended her daughter and her beloved pageants
The organiser of the pageant said to expect 'family fun', 'new friends' and 'good competition from Saturdays pageant
She described how the kids get dressed up in 'glitz' dresses
Applied fake tan
Used wiglets
And also 'flippers' (fake teeth)
They made it all sound like good clean fun

Micki Wood

What was peculiar about this pageant was that it was a cloak and dagger affair, shrouded in secrecy
Although heavily promoted on the internet, the location of the pageant remained a closely guarded secret because of fears the it would be marred by protesters
Even the contestants were not notified of the venue until the last minute
Hill said that she couldn't understand the mayhem and negative media storm that had followed the pageant

On the talk show we were introduced to 2 of the pageant kids
Eden Wood was the star attraction at Saturday's pageant and at the grand old age of 8 has retired from pageants
She has already published her autobiography From Cradle To Crown
Eden was dressed in what looked like a hot pink feather dressing gown and stood with her hands on her hips
She was uber confident
Precocious even
She explained how she loves getting her hair and make up done, 'rockin' and rollin' and having fun
Her idol is Selena Gomez
But there was something disturbing about her manner and the way that she was presented
It just looked all wrong

Then we met Ashling, a 9 year old pageant contestant from Co Cork
Although also over dressed and made up, she came across as lot more natural in the her manner
Her mother Stephanie explained how her daughter had seen an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras  and asked her mother if she could do that
Ashling has won prizes at 19 pageants and her mother estimated that she had spent up to 35,000 euro funding her participation
She has one to one session with a coach where she is advised on her stage routine
She learns modelling skills and how to look confident and make good eye contact with the judges
Ashling said that she enjoyed pageants but like a lot of these kids, her answers sounded rehearsed

My curiosity pricked, I watched an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras
It was disturbing to say the least
And more than the kids it was the mothers that worried me
They were competitive to the point of obsession, more so than any of the kids
Of course they are not all like that and the show does focus on the most extreme cases
The kids  take part in different divisions such as casual wear, formal wear, swim wear and talent
They wore outrageous costumes, over the top make up and hair
As it is a long day for the kids, it was inevitable that they got cranky and tired
One mother was shown giving her daughter  soda or 'pageant crack' to keep her awake

The pageants seem to mean a lot more to the mothers than they do to the kids
The majority of the kids seemed to be just going through the motions
Some obviously didn't want to be there at all
And there is no doubt that these kids are being exploited
One child came on stage dressed in an angel costume
She then proceeded to rip it off to reveal a very skimpy leotard with cones on her chest ala Madonna
Others danced provocatively
Shaking their bums
It was all just a little sleazy

So the pageant went ahead here on Saturday despite the controversy and maybe even because of it
It was due to take part in an upmarket Dublin hotel but it pulled out at the last minute
As the organisers appeared on Friday night tv, they still did not have a confirmed venue
At the eleventh hour they found a venue in Co Monaghan
But the pageant went off with a lot less sparkle and glamour than was hyped
It took place in the back room of a pub

Just over half of the expected 50 kids turned up for the pageant
It began at 11am and lasted just a couple of hours due to fears of protestors

In a week which saw the French government ban beauty pageants for under 16s, pageants are in the firing line for a lot of criticism
One paper reported that 'French women may pride themselves on their grooming but they draw a clear line between maximising your assets and touting them to the highest bidder'
Another paper described the kids in pageants as looking like 'fun size sex workers'

The thing that doesn't sot right with me about pageants is that the kids are judged solely on cosmetic appearance
Organisers believe that it is all about personality but the kids don't speak one word while on stage
These kids are learning at a very young age that looks and appearance are what is most important
Never mind that you play the piano
Nevermind that you are a maths whizz
If you can pout your lips and bat your eyelashes then you are on your way to success
These kids are being taught to rely on physical appearance and not on their personality or talents
It's just wrong
So very wrong

I was wondering about you
Do you agree or disagree with beauty pageants?
Have you ever been in a beauty pageant or ever considered entering one?
Inquiring minds want to know...........


  1. Well-said Ruby! I totally agree with you.

    I think these pageants are sick! Dressing little kids up like adults - it is exploitation and a form of 'grooming' if you ask me.. And what are they being taught? - How appearances matter solely - exactly. (Imagine what they'll be like when they grow up?!) Not just competing in terms of looks - but in terms of - who's got the best fake-tan, the curliest hair, the most make-up, the sexiest outfit. I mean c'mon, they're not even teenagers!

    Such a negative influence it is, terrible. Society is bad enough at the minute (even here in Ireland - notice how the Irish dancing field is moving more and more toward appearance - wigs, make-up etc?) Not to mention kids and teenagers nowadays being obsesed by what the media is selling them - clothes and make-up as the only way to 'feel''great. It makes me sad, all this focus on appearance. A fickle and cruel world it makes for.

    I say go France. They seem to have a lot more class in regards to their ideas of appearance and the importance of it. I don't think it should have been allowed to go ahead at all here in Ireland!

  2. Yes Siobain , the whole beauty pageant industry will just reinforce young kids low self esteem
    This whole world is breeding kids that will grow up relying on their looks and not on their talents

    I agree, I think France have the right idea
    These kids should be kids and enjoy being young
    Not in such a hurry to grow up
    It's the mothers that are to blame I think and the message these kids are getting is that they are not enough without all their 'armour' of hair and make up

    Thanks for your response Siobhain
    I was especially interested to hear what other Irish people think x

  3. I am so against the pageants...I think the mothers are in it for themselves... these are supposed to be little girls, they are made up dolls and I find it all very, very sad. I would never encourage a child to enter one of these...

    1. I agree Launna, it's definitely the mothers who are the driving force
      Why can't they just let their kids be kids?

      Hope all ok with you x

  4. I am a mom to a near 8 year old (six more days) and I could never imagine putting my daughter up on display like that. It is more for the mothers, who need something more in their lives. Altho, there are 'those' type of mothers in everywhere, be it sports, the arts, or academia.

    You must see Little Miss Sunshine, which is a dark comedy about kid beauty pageants. My daughter has always been top of the charts for both height and weight, similar to Abigail Breslin in the movie. I love that flick. It shines a bit of light on who the real fans are.

  5. (Hmm, on second thought that movie may be a bit triggering for you. The grandfather is an addict and carries his kit around with him.)

    1. I have seen it JJ and it's hilarious, I loved it
      Yes, I think the grandfather dies on the way, doesn't he?
      Must watch it again sometime x

  6. I'd say I'm against them. There's definitely a creepy, not-quite-right vibe about kid's beauty pageant. The mothers always seem to be into it much more than the starlets themselves. Surely it's gotta have some sort of effect on their mental health, even if later in life.

    And yes, Little Miss Sunshine is great. It's the only thing related to beauty pageants I can stand to watch.

    Hope you're okay Ruby. Thinking of you xx

    1. I think so Bella, it must have an a negative effect for sure

      I'm not too bad Bella thanks, hope you're doing ok too

      Thinking of you too sending positive vibes your way x

  7. Beauty pageants have become a thing of the past. Like slavery.

  8. NAY...they're terrible. I feel so badly for those kids. I'm sure shows like Toddlers and Tiaras show the worst of the worst...but still the principal of getting kids dressed up like that and making them focus so much on appearance when they wouldn't be otherwise is really disgusting to me...

  9. They all look creepy and too old to me. Like they're made to look 30 or something. I've seen a few docos and they do really sexualised routines even at age 4! Dafuck?

    I don't like them very much, if they did more age-appropriate things then they wouldn't seem so bad to me.


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