A pageant? In the mall? With a 2-year-old boy? It was a recipe for disaster, hilarity, or both.
I’ve always been intrigued by the drama of pageants. They are a microcosm of how women are treated in society. Stripped of any form of “political correctness,” they offer a glimpse at how girls are expected to perform the artifice of femininity.
Girls pay an exorbitant amount of money just to be oversexualized, objectified, and judged.
And boys? They win just by showing up.
(I suppose a silver lining could be that… it’s fun to see all the sequins and rhinestones?)
JonBenet Ramsey’s murder 20 years ago propelled the world of children’s beauty pageants into Americans’ consciousness.
Since then, movies likeDrop Dead Gorgeous and Little Miss Sunshine, documentaries like Living Dolls, and the controversial television show Toddlers and Tiaras have filled the public’s need to mock and gawk at these girls. And they’re almost always girls.
While there are a variety of pageant girls in media representations, there are very few images of boys. That is because there are very few boys who participate in the lifestyle. Of the 100,000 pageants held in the United States each year, I found only four that accept boys as contestants. According to Statistic Brain, over 2.5 million girls enter in pageants each year. No such statistics are available for boys.
I was determined to find out. And the local mall was the unlikely place for my education.
A poster and flyer in the elevator (which we must ride repeatedly) advertised the Sunburst Beauty Pageant— available to both girls and boys. They offered three age divisions for boys. My son Ryan, 2 ½, was eligible to enter the oldest group of boys: those aged 2-3.