Those of you who know me, will not be surprised when I tell you that I am against Beauty Pageants of all descriptions, I was one of those women who opposed the Miss Universe pageants in Australia decades ago. I notice that they have found their way back into Australia and that these events have paved the way for many a young beauty queen seen on the covers of magazines, or presenting themselves as the “face of” some department store or other, so they are not likely to disappear completely. But I am particularly opposed to the children‘s version where little girls (and maybe boys) are dressed up with way too much makeup, over fluffed clothes, looking like unrealistic dolls. Hardly a recipe for self-esteem development as these girls go into adolescence and then on to adulthood.
Recently little Eden Wood and her mother came to Australia, Eden is a well-known children’s pageant Queen from the US. The visit has been hotly opposed by many in Australia and the pageant movement continues to be a controversal one.
Eden’s mother spoke in an interview with Channel 7’s Today Tonight earlier this week and she just didn’t seem to understand what all the fuss was about. Why didn’t we “Aussie’s” understand this wonderful activity that she has her child involved in? Just give it a chance she begged us, if you only knew what went on behind the scenes you would all know how good it was she assured us. Its not the same as the Toddlers and Tiara’s show that Eden also stars in. Well, she didn’t convince many of us.
It’s a normal growing up thing to play dress ups as a little girl, right? Right, but some seem to take it just a bit too far. When I played dress ups as a young child, I put make up on and dressed in my mothers clothes. I didn’t have a spray tan, I didn’t have my hair done specially, I didn’t prance about in those clothes in front of people who I had never met before. I was just having fun. Well I grew out of that over the years as I came to understand who I was, and developed my style. How I wanted to dress was important, but not all-encompassing, but having my style helped me to have a healthy view of myself.
During the interview on Today Tonight, Edens mother made a few statements that I thought pretty silly along the lines of “its Eden who loves it, don’t you think she knows her own mind, I’m not the one pushing her”. I was on Twitter at the time and tweeted up a storm – so did many others who were amazed and concerned by what this women was saying. I thought, well, where do I start with this? When you don’t know that you don’t know, then you just don’t know what you don’t know! and she thinks that we are dopes!
- Firstly, Eden started this beauty pageant business when she was only 14 months old – too young in my opinion to know her own mind and know that this is what she wants to do for the next ten or so years. Even at six she is too young and needs guidance.
- “Eden loves it” and she probably does, but does she know the alternative? I would say not if she has done it already since she was so young – now at the tender age of six she doesn’t know normal play behaviour. Poor little girl, she has a mother who clearly has huge buy into the success of her child. Children are not dumb – Eden would love it at an early age just to appease her mum, just to see the joy that it brings her mother would be enough to keep most kids going at something even if they didn’t love it themselves. What is the way out for Eden? With all the hype how does she easily extract herself from it? With her mother so hot on promoting the pageant, how does little Eden get out of it if she wants to? This is the first area where I see a child abuse issue,
- Poor Eden’s mum, she’s not pushing her, she says….hmmm, well funny, I don’t even know Eden’s mum’s name, but I bet you there are some pretty good rewards for being Eden’s mum. Like a trip to Australia and media appearances to name a few?
During the interview on Today Tonight, Eden’s mum couldn’t understand all the negative comments about the pageant and likened her and the other pageant mums as being just like “soccer mums”. Well, I am here to tell you Eden’s mum that I am a soccer mum and I don’t want to be anything like you! When my daughter plays soccer it has nothing to do with how she looks on the day, it doesn’t even have that much to do with her ability, it has everything to do with her playing as a team member and supporting others in the team to achieve, and above all, they are having fun! Yes, yes I know that not all sports are team sports and yes some do need you to look good – but there is a difference between looking well presented and being presented like an object.
What really is the objective of these pageants? To find out which parent has the best looking child? The pageant people will say it is fun for the kids, but I don’t buy it and I don’t need a pageant to tell me that all my children are the best looking kids in the world – whether you agree with me or not is beside the point – I don’t need to prove it.
You can’t tell me that there isn’t a lot of money changing hands in this stuff. Anything where “beauty” is displayed with such fervour, and where mothers go to such trouble to make their little girl the best of the best is troubling to me. It’s not just pageants that display this behaviour, there are some football organisations that are also reaping large rewards on the back of young children in the name of sport. Either way, neither is right.
Apart from the obvious sexualisation of these pageant children, what I worry about the most is what will happen to them when they get older and are no longer the bestest, brightest, prettiest little doll on the block? How must this affect a girl’s self-esteem when they are no longer winning or they are just too old to take part? What happens to them when they are thirty or forty? Surely it must have an impact. What happens to the spent mothers of pageant Queens when there are no more pageants and what is happening to the rest of the families of these little girls? Eden’s mum doesn’t think that pageants sexualise children, but you only have to look at the footage of Eden dancing to know that the thrusting hands and hips movements are a movement that is often used by those older; usually by female singers in video clips wildly thrusting with their mouths open just that little bit and their eyes closed just that little bit. Come on, Eden’s mum, have you forgotten what sex is like?
Lets go back to some basics here; Why do women wear lipstick? Many a young thing would think that it is to make your lips stay moist, and yeah, it makes you look good and feel good. Hell, I wear it myself, but look at the history. Women started wearing red lipstick, or painting their lips and cheeks red centuries ago because it mimics the way that a women looks when they are sexually aroused. Yes, sorry to tell you this Eden’s mum, but the slightly parted red lips – look like an aroused female’s genitals and the reddened cheeks – well, that’s how you would look when aroused. Remember? As for high heels, well that is a whole other topic! My point is, that these pageant mums and dads need to really think through why they are doing this, and what will be the outcomes of this action years down the track; not just for the child, but for the mum, and for the dad and the rest of the family. My goodness what is going through the minds of the fathers in all of this? Do they even exist or have they left and no one has noticed? Well, that’s a story for another day.
What I really worry about is the effect that all this negative publicity has on Eden. It wouldn’t be easy for a little one to hear her mum defending herself and her own pageant wins on an almost daily basis. How confusing it must be.
We don’t need anymore pressure on our youths to be this or to be that – just let them be. They are all perfect and beautiful, just ask any parent and they will tell you until you fall off your chair asleep. It’s not the child that needs to be adored or to win the pageant medals; it’s a desire unfulfilled within the parents. Why not let Eden’s mum and the other pageant mums get up there on the stage and we will have a poke and prod at them to see if they are the bestest, the prettiest and the mostest and leave the kids to just be kids. Scared you won’t win Eden’s mum? (I’ll bet you are….)
Postscript: this post has been so successful with hundreds of views, I have written a follow-up piece – More on Beauty Pageants