It is 5am Friday morning and six year old Hannah is almost ready to leave her home with her mother to start their 5 hour car ride to the other side of their state. Restless and sleep deprived, Hanna's mother hounds her to repeat her script until she has it completely memorized. Arduous rehearsals are a must to ensure that Hannah is prepared for what is to come. The rules of age for entry into a pageant vary for different competitions, but Hanna's mother has had her competing since she was 6 months old. This has become her way of life, weekend after weekend, on the hunt to win another trophy. Hanna's mother is one of the many pageant crazed mothers who spend thousands of dollars to primp and prep and show off their precious children for a shot at winning a tiara or even better, money. Most parents will argue that their children love to participate in pageants and they love to be a part of the limelight, however watching TV reality shows like Toddlers and Tiaras, an outsider will most likely feel compelled to disagree. Child beauty pageants effect children in the most negative way because of overzealous parents exploiting and abusing their children, giving them a false sense of self-worth and confidence as a result.
Judging contestants on their beauty has a long history in America. The article, Child Beauty Pageants states that: .
Although beauty pageants began in the U.S. in 1921, with the introduction of the Miss America Pageant, child beauty pageants did not appear until the 1960's. Capitalizing on the success of the Miss America Pageant, the Little Miss America pageant began in 1961 at Palisades Amusement Park in Bergen County, New Jersey. The pageant generated so much interest by 1964, more than 35,000 contestants had enrolled. ("Child Beauty Pageants" 2010).
By the 1980's child beauty pageants were sprawling up all over the U.S., but unlike the pageants in the 60's the new style of pageantry was full of "glitz" characterized by false eyelashes, spray tans, false teeth, and inappropriate clothing.