Monday, March 1, 2010

Beauty Pageants

I sat down last week while the children were out, to watch a bit of TV. Without Austar anymore, daytime tv is pretty slim pickings, so I settled for Dr Phil. Not a bad choice, I suppose. He's a bit arrogant, but generally the advice he hands out is spot on.

The episode I watched was called 'Biggest mistakes you don't know you're making'. The segment that caught my attention was about beauty pageants. I'm not a fan of them at all for so many reasons! The story started with a letter from a grandmother who was extremely concerned for her grand-daughter who, at two years of age, was a beauty pageant queen. She felt that the mother was exposing her daughter to something that was incredibly inappropriate for someone so young. Little Mary, the two year old, is dressed like an adult, complete with hair pieces, full make-up, fake nails, spray tans, and revealing outfits. Her photos are all re-touched, because as her mother said, 'her complexion isn't perfect, so we need to cover those imperfections'! What the!?!?!? Mary's mother has also considered getting her a set of perfectly white 'pageant teeth' to be worn while she is performing! All this has come at a cost so far, of USD$30,000!

I can't begin to explain how angry I was while watching this. It is so wrong on so many levels. Aside from the obvious dangers of exposing her to paedophiles, and the ever present bitching and cat-fighting (usually by the mothers!) that goes on within the pageant arena, what is Mary's mother setting her up for in the future? What kind of self image will this little girl have? This need for superficial perfection at such a young age will have horrendous ramifications when she hits puberty. What will she expect of herself when her hormones are running rampant and she is trying to make sense of the world? Not to mention when she is an adult attempting to make her way in our harsh, judgemental society.

I don't doubt that Mary's mother loves her. I'm sure she does, but is this the kind of love a mother should shower on a child? She is reinforcing on a daily basis, that Mary isn't good enough as she is. That she isn't 'perfect' - her hair isn't long enough, her teeth aren't white enough, her skin isn't brown enough, her complexion is flawed.

Mary is learning that to be 'pretty' is the most important thing in life, and we all know what a load of bollocks that is! As women, and mothers of daughters, it is our responsibility to teach them just the opposite. We need to make them believe that true beauty and strength comes from our character, and this character is developed by our flaws, our imperfections and our differences. Our ability to embrace them and accept them, is the first step to true perfection. We are all equal, and we are all beautiful.

I truly hope that Mary's mother heeds Dr Phil's advice. Her little girl is a gift, and not one that needs any fixing.

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