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Are Beauty Contests Harmful to Young Children?

Veethi Telang
It's an ongoing debate on - are beauty contests harmful to young children? While the positive impacts can give your little one a reason enough to strive in the fashion world, the negative impacts can leave scars on your child's soul that may take forever to go away.
The glitz, the glamor, the hairdos, the diamond-studded tiaras... who wouldn't want this? Girls wouldn't mind playing Snow White for a day, and guys wouldn't mind dressing up like the quintessential Mr. Darcy. Oh, the entrapments of the glamor world. Have you ever wondered if beauty contests are breeding narcissism into your child?
Like the superhero effect? Mass communication sources like television, Internet, and radio are the hunters to which children fall as an easy prey. Who's to blame? Children are, after all, immature and juvenile. Imitation becomes their favorite option.
The little ones are attracted to their favorite movie stars, and right from a tender age, when books were all that should've held their attention, they're dreaming of becoming the next fashion icon on the block. What provides them the way to do so? Beauty contests. The pageants and reality shows based on beauty lure the unskilled and unripe brains of the little ones, and soon, they make up their mind to pursue the line. The end result?
All the inappropriate means to embark upon the glittering dream world becomes appropriate, and all that's otherwise wrong turns right. I'm not going to be talking totally against the topic of discourse today. However, when cons take a leap ahead of the pros, you know you need to rack your brains on the issue.

The Darkness Within

... but who could tell 'em immature minds that beauty lies within, and not in the appearance? Truly, the influence of beauty contests over young children can be harmful, and more than that, disastrous as they grow up.
While children are in the process of developing their minds with increasing age, the more they are exposed to the glitterati, the easier it is for their minds to corrupt. The little ones become recklessly determined that the ultimate key to success lies in dressing up like a Hollywood star.
With the feeling of narcissism comes resentment towards others, hatred towards the ones less able, and an ever-increasing dissatisfaction towards oneself. Following points describe the totally-uncalled-for impacts of child beauty contests on children:
  • Children tend to believe that beauty lies solely in their appearance, leaving no room for inner beauty and traits.
  • They start comparing themselves physically with others, and this causes resentment, jealousy and dissatisfaction when expected results are not achieved.
  • Highly influenced by what they see when they notice their favorite stars performing on television, they try to imitate their habits, stunts, brands, and workout techniques.
They demand their parents to get a makeover, and spend recklessly on the very health drinks, cosmetics, and technology that they see their idols using, little knowing that they could affect their delicate skin, health, and gentle minds.
  • They spend most of their time in front of mirrors as they get immensely obsessed with good looks.
  • They start losing interest in studies, and put too much emphasis on appearance rather than inner beauty, which ultimately sends a wrong message to the youthful minds.

The Bright Side

Well, the negatives leave us with just a little of the positives. While a taste of failure in beauty contests can leave a child devastated, even a simple win or recognition stays with them for a long time.
For those parents who want their children to get into this field of career, beauty contests lay the foundation, and children learn what's ahead for them in the race. Here goes the sum up:
  • For some children, winning a beauty contest can be their ambition, or the only source to achieve success.
  • Watching beauty contest winners and successful people on television and in magazines builds self-confidence in young children, and renders in them the determination and desire to get successful like them.
  • It helps them in gaining good command over their language, especially, English which is universally acknowledged today.
  • Some beauty contests emphasize less on the glamor quotient, and more on the ability of a child to present himself or herself. This instills confidence within them, and helps them improve with every show they participate in.
A little praise, false hopes, and a slight push could drive the little ones far away from the peaceful real world to the vicarious undignified sphere. Let them build a secure future for themselves first, with a clean, unadulterated mind. 
In my view, anything that has the capacity of overshadowing the education of a child isn't worth a go at all. Children often let themselves become victims to the risks and dangers that this world of glamor enfolds, by taking steps which are inapt for them at their age.
As an end of the line, even if children are exposed to, or made to participate, it's the duty of parents to instill the feeling of being competitive within their kids, and that it doesn't matter who wins, the real victory lies in gaining the experience. Patience and perseverance come to a child with time, but they come, and come for good.
Note: The opinions expressed in this story are the views of the writer alone.