Julie Parker has worked at The Butterfly Foundation, and is now a counselor and life coach for women suffering from negative body image. Here is her take on toddler waxing and child beauty pageants…
Make sure your curling iron is on and your beauty therapist is on speed dial – Little Miss Bayside is calling for 2011 entrants. The pageant is modeled ‘along the same lines of the traditional American Style Pageants’ like the ones seen in ‘Toddlers and Tiara’s.’ There will be formal gowns, swimsuits and ‘glamour beauty.’ Did I say beauty therapist on speed dial? Make that child therapist.
If you think these pageants are harmless fun, or as the organisers of Little Miss Bayside claim, a way “to encourage, build self esteem and inspire children to be the best they can be,” as Darryl Kerrigan once said; “You’re dreamin.” Take a look at this latest clip from ‘Toddlers and Tiara’s’ showing an entrant getting her eyebrows waxed. It’s one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen.
I’m not sure about you but I found that distressing. The child is screaming not to have it done and yet her Mother believes it an acceptable thing to do. Well, it’s not. Waxing is something that should only be done by adult women who choose to do so. It is not something that is meant to be done to a child.
If you’re not convinced of how dangerous things like waxing, spray tanning and teeth whitening are for girls, how about this Mother putting her eight year old daughter on a fruit only diet. Why? Because she was growing too fast to fit into a $1200 pageant dress. This is not only cruel, it’s dangerous. Take it from someone who specializes in working with children, teens and people who have body image concerns and eating disorders, this is a classic set up for a child to become anxiety ridden about their body and self worth to the point where they start refusing food and believing they are fat and unacceptable. Not to mention malnourished. Where is the beauty in that?
I do not understand how any parent living in today’s world where there are so many amazing choices for girls, could possibly think that parading around in makeup, high heels and a bikini is meant to give their daughter a true and lasting sense of self respect. Last time I checked no adult or child could find self esteem in a shade of magenta lip gloss. No matter how hard they may try. These pageants do nothing more than tell girls their worth is tied up in what they look like, how much they weigh, how expensive their dress is and how sparkly their teeth are. It’s a breeding ground for warped body image and self esteem if ever I saw one and the impact they could, and clearly are having, frightens me. While I appreciate that Australian pageants may not be at the stage where they are like the ones from the USA; surely it must only be a matter of time. The competitive element seems to know no bounds.
To my mind, no little girl should ever be waxed, shaved, highlighted, contoured, glossed or sprayed and then be judged. The thought of it nearly brings me to tears. Little girls should be allowed to be just that – little girls – with no cares or worries about what they look like. Their world should be made up of playing, colouring, running outside, learning to share, making friends at school and generally just having fun and being childlike.
They should not be exposed to anything that makes them think they have to be ‘fixed’ in any way, but clearly these pageants believe they have to be, or at least promote that thinking. To my mind that is not only a travesty, but a potential tragedy waiting to happen.
What do you think, is it a form of child abuse?