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Why I'll Never Put My Daughters in a Beauty Pageant

It was prior to having my two girls that I decided I would not allow my children to be entered into a beauty contest. I often wondered why any parent would enter their child into a contest that judged and ranked them based on their appearance. Having never been particularly drawn to watching beauty pageants like Miss America or Miss USA, the appeal to judge any person, especially a little girl, on their appearance was foreign to me. My girls are now 6 and 8, so this decision was made way before the Honey Boo Boos of the world came on the scene.

Sure, we tell our kids they’re “cute” and “beautiful” and “precious,” but how often do we compliment their intellect or their positive choices? Do we focus the positive attention given to our kids mainly on their looks? I’m guilty of doing this exact thing to my own daughters, but the introspective gained from watching TV shows and documentaries about pageants has helped me understand that they need to hear positivity from me about their whole selves, not just their outer selves.

Being ranked from best to worst in a public forum is not how I want my children to develop their self esteem

At the time of JonBenet Ramsey's tragic death in 1996 and clusterf... media storm surrounding her family, I was in college, making snap judgments of others as 20-year-old kids do. The scrutiny surrounding Ramsey’s involvement in the pageant world opened my eyes to the previously-unknown-world of High Glitz. I was hooked. WHY? I watched documentaries like Living Dolls: The Making of a Child Beauty Queen, about little girls in pageants. I was shocked at learning the lengths to which the moms and dad would go to win a crown. (I mean, their daughter, or sometimes son, win the crown.)

These little girls became household names because of their looks. I was complicit in pop culture’s interest in baby beauty pageants. But did I learn from them? Absolutely. I learned they were something I in which was not going to allow my children to participate. Little Swan Brooner is a legend in the pageant world thanks in part to Living Dolls, And now we have Honey Boo Boo. (Let me add that though Alana—aka Honey Boo Boo—and her family’s reality show popularity is not based on the pageant world, her fame’s impetus was Toddlers & Tiaras.)

This is not a life I want for my little girls. I have no desire to have my daughters' looks judged against other people's daughters' looks. Being ranked from best to worst in a public forum is not how I want my children to develop their self esteem. There are enough other instances of unequal gender representation, as seen in children’s movies (it took Disney•Pixar 13 feature-length movies to cast a female lead in its 14th movie, Brave), on television shows (the number of female characters is far outweighed by the number of male characters), and in the workplace (a woman earns $.77 on the dollar a man earns). I don't have any desire to step on this cause before it's even a crocus.

This is my opinion, and I try my darndest to respect the decisions of those who do enter their children into beauty pageants. Unfortunately, shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Toddlers & Tiaras aren't helping me understand the appeal of having anyone’s daughters publicly scrutinized.

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