Pretty Hurts: Associated Risks and Possible Preventive Measures for Child Beauty Pageantry
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Term and YearSpring 2020
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AbstractAbstract Background: Child beauty pageants began in the 1960’s, but did not catch the attention of mainstream media until 1995. Since then, the industry has continued to boom while simultaneously maintaining a highly controversial status. Despite the somewhat light-hearted depictions of child pageantry on television, it is still debated whether or not these contests are healthy and productive for children to participate in. Objective: The aim of this study is to investigate the possibility of abuse and/or harm faced by children in beauty circuits, the legal restrictions that could be placed on the U.S.’s child pageant industry to protect the minors’ rights, and why pageantry is still popular. Design and Method: The research method is based on current literature regarding possible long term adverse effects caused by pageantry, the potential for abusive situations in beauty circuits, and what options states have to regulate the industry. The research questions are: Does unregulated pageantry lead to adverse long term effects on contestants? Does pageantry encourage or excuse abuse? What options do states have to regulate the industry? How do pageants still manage to lure in families? Results: The significance of this study is to show both the physical and psychological trauma experienced by children not only during but long after their time in pageantry; along with how this can be avoided in the future through proper regulation and management. Television shows like Toddlers & Tiaras and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo have been shown to increase viewers’ positive feelings surrounding child pageantry. Finally, vibrant posters promoting luxurious prizes advertised in impoverished states are keeping child beauty circuits lucrative in the United States. Conclusions: The general public should be weary of media that blindly promotes child beauty pageants. Additionally, parents should be cautious when thinking about entering their child into pageantry as an extracurricular activity. There are many studies that prove the risks greatly outweigh any rewards the child will reap, and that they may face future psychological problems as a result. Pageantry needs to be regulated at the state level to prevent the exploitation of underage contestants and attempts should be made to revive the Child Modeling Exploitation Prevention Act of 2002. Keywords: child beauty pageant, child abuse, Achievement by Proxy Distortion, eating disorder