Could one of America's multi-billion dollar industries be the cause of decreased self-esteem in the youth today? Many people believe that child beauty competitions put children under pressure that they are not yet able to handle, resulting in dissatisfaction in different aspects of their lives. Beauty pageants can adversely affect a child's development by putting them in stressful situations at a young age, having them focus on appearance rather than intelligence, and ultimately taking away their childhood.
There are about 3,000 pageants a year in the U.S., 500 of which cater to the pre-teen and under set (Gleick). These are the beauty pageants plaguing our society today. These contests put the world on the children's shoulders, forcing them into tense positions that they are not able to handle on their own. Recent studies show that children who grow up having a calm and predictable view on the world have much healthier self-control versus those who are put in stress-causing chaotic environments early in life (Eder, Digirolamo, and Thompson). These competitions are far from harmonious. They bring the child into the limelight and put them under pressure, sometimes against their will. Hemorrhoid cream is applied to thighs to tighten skin and reduce appearance of cellulite, dark foundation is used to contour the stomach and legs for the allusion of toned muscles, duct tape is used for cleavage and wrapped tightly around the abdomen for the evening gown section, and superglue is applied liberally to the skin to keep bikinis in place (Panahi). This kind of repugnant behavior from the parent could result in the child feeling the need to look flawless, no matter what the cost. .
Not only does the child feel pressure during the contest itself, the stress of always having to be perfect can stick around for weeks, months, maybe even a lifetime. Brooke Breedwell, a former pageant participant, said, "I ended up having a very tense relationship with her (her mother) because she was always nitpicking me, pushing me to be perfect.