Russia Moves to Ban Child Beauty Pageants: Why America Should Be Next

From JonBenét Ramsey to Honey Boo Boo and every pageant kid in between, watching any child participate in a beauty pageant makes me itchier than a victim of Shingles.

I’m not all that hot for adult beauty pageants either, but those women are old enough to know better — although they probably all started out as JonBenéts and Honey Boo Boos themselves. That’s why I’m a fan of lawmakers in Russia who recently proposed a bill to ban child participation in beauty pageants and introduce penalties for lawbreakers.

As noted on RT.com, the bill outlaws kids being in any event where they will “show themselves off and be judged on their appearance, if this could harm the child’s health or development physically, intellectually, psychically,and spiritually. Participation in contests that could potentially lead to corruption of the young is also banned.”

If parents allow their children to participate in beauty pageants, they could have to pay up to 5,000 roubles which is roughly 142 dollars. Officials who license events could face fines of up to 1 million roubles (28,500 dollars) and be suspended for their work.

Legislators who support the bill say children being judged on their physical appearance is not only damaging to their psyche but exposes them to pedophiles.

How any parent could put their child in a beauty pageant is totally beyond me. Encouraging little girls with vacant eyes, spray tans, wigs, and over-sized plastic teeth to flirt with judges so they can be judged on their appearance should be illegal everywhere. Instead, it’s a favorite pastime for millions who tune into Toddlers & Tiaras, and nary an eye is batted (aside from the falsies) on the todder dressed as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

Russia isn’t the first country to make a move to ban kid participation in beauty pageants. As USA Today noted last year, in France, legislators moved to ban child beauty pageants on the grounds that they promote the “hyper-sexualization” of minors.

So what about America? USA Today interviewed sociologist Hilary Levey Friedman who says it will never happen. “Historically and legally, our system defers to parents to make the right decision for their child,” she told USA Today. “We see the family as more of a private entity.”

Mental health professional Karen Kataline says banning pageants isn’t the answer, because it’s the parents who support the pageants and “encourage the sexualization of their children.”

“I’m not against children singing and dancing on stage, but you want them to sing and dance and perform in age-appropriate ways,” she says. “Today, we’ve pushed the envelope to ridiculous degrees.”

Right. But we have laws against parents smoking with children in the car, because many parents wouldn’t make that choice. So how would a ban on child participation in beauty pageants be any different? Something clearly needs to be done to protect children who can’t help themselves.

Come at me all you want with the self-delusion that pageants create poise and confidence, and I’ll just retch louder. There are a million other ways to teach your child confidence that don’t involve more makeup than Tammy Faye Bakker. So your kid isn’t shy anymore, but now she bases her self-worth on her physical appearance? Great. Well done, Mom.

What do you think? Should America make a move to ban child participation in pageants or is that something that should be left up to parents?

Image: Thinkstock

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