There's a lot of pageant hoopla right now with Allyn Rose, from Washington DC planning on a mastectomy after her performance (appearance?) in the Miss USA pageant. I totally believe in her right to take preventative measures to secure her health, but I'm sad that she had to be a six foot tall, spray tanned, blond bombshell to get heard.
It got me thinking about watching pageants when I was little. When Miss USA or Miss Universe came on, I'd be so excited, with a little notebook and pen so I could keep score myself. Who has the best hair, dress, swimsuit? Is someone gonna trip? Does the contestant from India have a chance?
Now as a mature woman, and a self-proclaimed feminist, I am appalled that I was allowed to watch that stuff. I'm surprised that in 2012, women still dress up in bikinis, and sequins, with hair extensions and double-sided tape, to be JUDGED and SCORED by others! I know I know, its to earn "scholarships." But why are women earning scholarships for their looks? The pageants don't even fake what's important. Looks and poise gets you to the finals; the world peace question is only asked to the beautiful, photogenic statuesque finalists. And they only get 30 seconds to answer. Would men ever participate in these endeavors? No, they compete for scholarships by bashing each others heads on the field while playing football. Oh, that's another blog.
I know some of you pageant queens are going to be salty (angry) about my rant, but let me tell you that I love all of you pageant princesses, with or without your crowns. You don't need to parade around in your best outfit to be loved and respected by others.
As a grown up, I can now watch these shows and know that the pageant ideal is not "normal" or even really "ideal." Hey, I may even flip channels to the Miss USA show. But what would I be teaching my children if I allowed them to watch? I suspect that its just as detrimental to their mental and social well being as it is to watch graphic sex or violence on TV. Kids get much more information that we know. And they often interpret it in the wrong way. Girls who are watching pageants or participating in pageants from ages 3 on up....what damage is that doing? I came across a list of such damages online - obsessive competitiveness, sexualization of young girls, and stunted growth (from too much hairspray). I could go one and on, especially after watching 15 minutes of Honey Boo Boo on TLC ( a truly disturbing show).
Please think about what you let your kids watch and listen to. I know it's hard, I don't always do a good job of it. But we can't just think about the obvious evils (sex, violence, language), but we should also we aware of the embedded messages in the shows that our kids watch. All these images and experiences are molding our kids into the adults that they will one day be.