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Home » Newspaper News

Beauty pageants are considered demeaning by many, but not all.

May 16, 2014
James F Byrnes Freshman Academy

Not surprisingly, children are among the fastest- growing participants in the beauty pageant market.  Competitions attract an estimated 3 million children, mostly girls, ages six months to 16 years that compete for crowns and cash.


Plenty of parents who enlist their children into the contests say it breeds self-confidence and humility along with a good sense of self-image.


However, some say that the pageants are demeaning and sexist. They are concerned that the competitions may breed narcissism and cause for the participants to place all of their worth into their appearance or their placement in the end results.


“To put the value of yourself on winning seems to be the biggest lesson from pageants.  In other words, they [the contestants] are so fragile that it hurts or damages them if they fail. It gets them caught up in their looks and they feel like a failure and disappointment, not only to others but themselves, when they lose,” said Candi Vaughn, teacher at Byrnes Freshman Academy (BFA).


Pageants have changed over the years.  Eleanor Vonduyke, a former Denver-based pageant director who was in the business for 20 years, said, “Competitions 25 years ago really only required a party dress and a satin hair bow.”


Presently, children go further and further to look more attractive compared to their competitors. It is not uncommon to see bleached or highlighted hair, false eyelashes or even “flippers,” which are used to cap missing front teeth, on incredibly young children.


JonBenét Ramsey, an American pageant contestant from Boulder, Colorado, was murdered in her home in 1996.


Vonduyke directed pageants in which JonBenét Ramsey competed in and after the murder of the six-year-old Colorado girl, she left the industry. As images of JonBenét were repeatedly shown in media reports for the ongoing investigation, she said the investigation “cast a dark shadow on the contests” in an article from ABC news.


Vonduyke is currently working on a book about the industry. 

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