beauty

Why my daughter will never be a pageant princess.

Ballet, yes. Tutus – definitely. But hair, makeup and a tiara? Hell, no.

“Crack the tutus, Jam! It’s a girl!!” was how I announced the sex of my as-yet unborn child to our Editor-In-Chief, Jamila Rizvi. Jamila has now faithfully promised that this little girl will never go without a tutu in her wardrobe and I’m thrilled that her Aunty Jam is going to be her fluffy pink dress benefactress.

There’s just something about curly-haired toddlers in fairy dresses and tutus that makes me go all gooey. Is there anything cuter than a recital of 4 year old girls dancing their carefully rehearsed ballet routine?

"The great thing about ballet, especially for very young girls, is they develop self confidence and self worth."

I honestly can’t wait to watch my teeny-tiny person take her first tentative steps in ballet. The great thing about ballet, especially for very young girls, is that it teaches a good, structured curriculum. Children learn discipline and team work. They learn posture and grace. They develop a sense of confidence and self worth.

The same can be said for all sorts of dance styles and performing arts. But the same can be said for beauty pageants.

Universal Royalty Beauty Pageants, an US outfit regularly featured on the infamous TV show Toddlers and Tiaras, is holding a pageant in Melbourne in August.

Universal Royalty Beauty Pageants specialise in “full glitz” pageants. Children as young as three made-up like adults, with spray tans, plucked eyebrows, gel nails and fake eyelashes. Children are paraded individually in front of judges to be judged on their appearance and attitude. Winners are crowned princesses and losers are offered a critique of their make up and hair.

This has prompted calls from activists for the Victorian Government to outlaw pageants, and one Victorian city council has moved to disallow the beauty pageant from their local area. Critics of pageants say they encourage the sexualisation of young girls, and raise concerns about how pageants may contribute to negative body image issues.

Universal Royalty have previously held pageants in Australia in 2011. They were widely panned by critics at the time. Plans to hold a pageant in Perth in 2011 prompted the WA State Parliament to conduct an inquiry into the sexualisation of children. The inquiry report recommends examining child beauty pageants to see if they should be regulated.

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"Children as young as three made up like adults, with spray tans, plucked eyebrows, gel nails and fake eyelashes."

The organisers say they want their pageants to be, “a positive learning experience to learn competition, positive self confidence and striving to be the very best.”

I'm going to say it - I don’t like pageants and I would be horrified if my daughter one day asked to enter one, although I’m reluctant to join calls to ban them. I think parents ought to be allowed to make their own judgements about what is right for their child.

But I would hope that parents would be thinking about how best to develop their child's sense of self-worth, and to consider how they want their child to view their place in the world. I would hope that parents think about what a child has the opportunity to learn, and what characteristics their child can develop.

I have very fond memories of practising with toy make up in the mirror as a six year old, and messing around in the dress up box with my mother’s old pretty dresses. It was a great chance to indulge my imagination.

I also loved ballet class. I adored the process of putting my hair in a bun, and slipping my feet into a pair of pink slippers. I loved tutus and sparkles. I’m 31 and my favourite colour is still pink.

There will be tutus in our house, and my daughter will live in a pink paradise if she wants to. And I can’t wait for that. Dressing up and playing with clothes and shoes can be a lot of fun. I want her to know that and enjoy that. But more than anything else, I want her to know that she will be valued for more than just her hair, her clothes and her good looks.

CLICK THROUGH the gallery to see some very glitzy pageant princesses...

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Tags: adivce , beauty-pageants-are-bad , kids , parenting-2
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