Beauty pageants for toddlers, they’re fun. They’re exciting. They’re destroying the minds of young girls and making them think wearing fake teeth at the age of six is all fine and dandy. It’s not. Shows such as Toddlers and Tiaras and Little Miss Perfect are quickly passing up other modeling and pageant shows mainly because there are little girls strutting their stuff up on stage for the world to see. Not to mention what they wear. Bathing suits. Miniskirts. Ten pounds of makeup, hair extensions, fake tans and teeth. The list goes on and on. It’s surprising how many mommies lose their mind, and if you ask me, toddler beauty pageants are wrong.

The first modern American beauty pageant took place in 1854. A man by the name of P.T. Barnum had the bright idea of showing women off to the world. He was a showman and founded the circus, Barnum & Bailey. His bright idea was, however, killed by protesters. Middle class people thought of beauty pageants to be ‘disrespectful’ and somewhat sleazy. If only those people could see what beauty pageants were like today. Beauty pageants weren’t accepted until after World War II. In 1880, Bathing Beauty pageants were introduced as summer festivals where women and men would show off their bodies in bathing suits. Sounds harmless and really it was, considering bathing suits weren’t as revealing like they are now. Body building contests also took place around this time.

After some time, the idea of beauty pageants changed into something more. Instead of just showing off ‘the goods’ in front of your fellow townspeople, judges decided more was expected out of the participants. Now, you have to have grace, style, and intelligence in order to win a contest. The point of a beauty pageant is to encourage the girl and to show her that she’s more than just a pretty face. It’s supposed to be an accomplishment, to know that you showed the world you’re a strong, independent woman. Sometimes, after a participant leaves the pageant, whether she wins or not, she may get involved with charities in her hometown. The girl is supposed to encourage her friends and family to also get more involved. Pageant coordinators make sure to be fair and equal, so women of any race are allowed to participate.

Sounds all fine and dandy, right? No. Beauty pageants, while teaching women to be confident, are also damaging the minds of younger girls. The show Toddlers and Tiaras debuted in 2009, and already thousands of people are against it. There are many pros and cons but I personally think it’s a bunch of bull. Mothers and fathers, but mostly mommies, sign their young daughters up and basically throw them into the lion’s den. Six year old girls should not be clad in that kind of get-up. Fake hair, fake teeth –really?--, oompa loompa tans, and bikinis that even I wouldn’t wear; it’s all so ridiculous.
Beauty pageants, nowadays, are backing the idea that true beauty only comes from how perfectly you can apply eyeliner and if you can say, “I wish for world peace,” or not. Usually aired on national television, these pageant shows are available for anyone to see, as long as they own a TV or have access to one. Do they even know how many people watch TV? It’s not safe to have your little girl showing that much of herself on TV. Speaking of showing yourself, when a toddler doesn’t want to do something, what do they do? They throw a fit. Okay, that’s fine in your own house but on TV?

These little girls don’t necessarily want to wear all that eyeliner and mascara. Old people don’t even like wearing fake teeth, so why would a toddler enjoy that? But when you force a small child to do something they don’t want to do, they’re going to lash out and cause a huge fuss. It’s understandable that a mother would discipline her child for backtalk but some of the things these parents say and do to the little girls are just wrong. You don’t jerk her by the arm and you especially don’t yell at her because she won’t cooperate and put her heels on. Well, you’re not supposed to do that, but pageant mothers do it all the time. What makes it worse is that they do it in front of the whole world. Talk about embarrassing.

Everyone has heard of Toddlers and Tiaras, mostly. Almost everyone knows what it’s about and has watched it at least once. That’s dangerous. When you put your little girl out there for the whole nation to see, that allows child predators to target your child and if you’re not careful enough, they’ll kidnap them. Take the JonBenet Case for instance. This six-year-old star was brutally killed in her own home, not by the parents but by someone authorities still haven’t caught. She was famous, living it up on TV but the poor girl was being watched by someone lethal. She was robbed of her childhood, and then robbed of her life. If she had not of been participating in those pageant show, no one would’ve known her and things might have been different.

Beauty pageants are fun, I’m sure. But there are so many risks that really may not be worth taking. I think if beauty pageants are going to be accessible to young children, some requirements should be made first. The age should be raised; the girl should be older than four or five. She needs to already have a bit of self-esteem before she gets up on stage and is possibly shot down. Next, parents need to be aware of the risk they’re taking by showing off their child on television. And last, the look has got to go. All that makeup and fake everything is just not real beauty. It’s all circus-wear. Beauty should be natural and come from within. It shouldn’t be found in distasteful clothing and over-the-top cosmetics.

All in all, I think making little girls experience the pageant life is wrong and it’s stealing their whole childhood. They should be able to play and have a fun, carefree life. They are too young to be worrying about getting up at five AM to get ready for the ridiculous challenges. Let the little girls be little girls and leave the beauty pageants to Miss America.