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Vive le Childhood! France Moves to Ban Child Beauty Pageants

Child beauty pageant

See you in a few years, sweetie pie

It’s a country known for being more liberal than the United States when it comes to drinking wine, smoking cigarettes, and being freer about their bodies and sexuality.

Wine with meals is common for children at a young age. Smoking doesn’t carry nearly the stigma that is does stateside. And topless beaches and risqué fashion shows aren’t topics that draw even a fraction of the debate in as they do in, well, pretty much anywhere in the U.S.

Which is why it’s surprising to some that France is looking increasingly likely to ban child beauty pageants, according to the Associated Press.

In a vote on an amendment that started with a debate on women’s rights laws, 197 lawmakers outbid 146 of their colleagues in agreeing that beauty competitions for children under 16 should be banned.

The U.S. is no stranger to the debate on young girls and the modeling industry. A 10-year-old girl here who posed topless for Vogue caused a bit of a stir, for instance. The show Toddlers and Tiaras has had tongues wagging incessantly about the premature sexualization of young girls (and the bad rearing from their parents). There was a store selling crochless panties for tweens. There are stipper-pole classes for toddlers. The list goes on.

But there are some people in France defending child beauty pageants, saying the ones there “focus on princess dresses and ‘natural beauty,’” according to the Associated Press. And then there are others there who maintain that the contests judging kids by their appearance are “contrary to the development of a child” — no matter the country.

While the beauty pageant ban is surprising in some ways for a country like France, which is seemingly so loose about sexuality, in other ways, it’s not so much. France is a country fiercely proud of its traditions. They famously banned ketchup in schools two years ago in an effort to keep their “cultural identity.” And the senate there stopped short of approving a measure that would prohibit those under 16 from modeling products that are targeted at adults, such as cosmetics and clothes.

The fine for violating the ban would be up to two years in prison and a 30,000 euros fine. No word yet on if pretty baby contests or online photo competitions are included in the ban. The legislation is now being passed to a lower house for more discussion and another vote.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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