Just saying the words Beauty Queen causes you to think of gleaming smiles, evening gowns and diamond tiaras. Following the success of films such as Drop Dead Gorgeous and Miss Congeniality, beauty pageants are growing all the more popular in western culture. There was a time when pageants were specifically for girls and women over the age of 18, now however there are child beauty pageants which are open to girls under 12.
Initially the thought of girls in child beauty pageants are a bit shocking however, if you think about how naturally little girls go into their mother's wardrobe and try on jewellery and shoes, pageants are just an extension of childhood fantasies of being a princess. Provided that the outfits that the child wears in the pageant are tasteful, then there is little reason to object to them.
The different rounds in a beauty pageant can allow the child to develop skills that they may require later in life. For instance, the interview round can teach the participant about enunciation, voicing their opinions and general public speaking skills. In addition to this, they will learn how to be themselves and feel comfortable talking to larger groups of people, which can be crucial in school situations when presentations may need to be given in class.
The talent portion of a beauty pageant allows the child to develop their own talents and having to perform it in front of others will help them to overcome shyness. One of the main reasons that parents enter their children in child beauty pageants is to help boost their self esteem. Although not every child can win the overall competition, each child will be given a prize for taking part. In addition to this, these pageants encourage the child to be more comfortable in their own skin.
Many parents who have had children with birth defects will enter them into these pageants in order to teach them that they are not different to other children and can take part in the things that other children take part in. This works both ways, as the children in the competition learn not to judge others if they are disabled and become more accepting; This is something that a lot of children do not have the ability to do if they rarely interact with a disabled person.
Beauty pageants give children the opportunity to be made to feel like a princess for a day, there is the potential that some may feel it encourages children to grow up too quickly, but if the children have well grounded parents then there is little reason to think this. I know from experience that young girls spend hours just day dreaming about wearing diamond tiaras, high heels and makeup.