Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Politics of Pageants

I recently attended a local "all natural" beauty pageant for children. I went in support of my one year old Granddaughter. Now, let me pull out the soapbox cause I got something to say.

First of all, I must open with a statement proclaiming knowledge that, according to Southern Tradition, I will be sought out, hog-tied, and hung by my family jewels with barbed hooks for daring to speak my mind like this. My retort to the threat is "Bring it on". I'm a proponent and believer in the second amendment.

Now, on with the rant.

I will admit to watching the Miss America Pageant on occasion. I did this for my own personal pleasure and not once did I believe that these women were not being manipulated or exploited in some way. When my daughter announced that her daughter was going to attend such an event as a contestant, I was saddened.

But, this was an "all natural" beauty pageant just for young girls, and it was for charity. In fact, there was to be a special award called the "Heart of Gold" for the family that brought in the most canned goods for charity. The dress for this event was to be jeans and simple t-shirt.

About a day before the event, on rabid protest by some of the contestants mothers, I assume; the event coordinator decided it would be Ok for the young girls to wear whatever they wanted.

When we arrived at the event, I was not at all surprised to see the very sight I imagined, in all my prejudicial, assuming knowledge of this, or any other kind of pageant. These young girls, none over the age of eight, wore more makeup than a drag-queen in candlelight. Apparently, all their outfits came from a special store dedicated to selling clothing for little girls participating in beauty pageants. Let me just say this, some of these girls wore outfits that, I believe, would embarrass the professionals working the largest red-light district in the world in Frankfurt, Germany.

We were instantly aware at how under-dressed and under-painted our little one year old girl was for this event -- even in the youngest division of the pageant!

We watched the whole horror fest unfold, embarrassed for what our two and a half year old Grandson was witnessing. One mother even had her young girl stop in front of the judges, turn around and shake her ass before walking to another mark on the stage.



We left the event feeling like we were the uninvited guests at a Southern belle, blond-haired, blue-eyed, white-girl, debutante, I love me meeting. All the judges, sponsors, and contestants seemed to know each other. It was nice though that my little Granddaughter did not leave empty-handed. She was given chocolates for her attendance, and won a nice stainless-steel Mary Kay Cosmetics thermos. My wife and daughter plan to use the thermos for coffee since it didn't come with a nipple or sippy attachment for use by my Granddaughter.

Oh, and by the way, the winner of the pageant? The little girl who shook her ass for the judges.

I do not believe that beauty pageants do anything to improve self-confidence, acceptance, or poise of girls or women. I now believe the polar opposite.

My understanding of an "all natural" beauty pageant would involve no makeup, hair pieces, or fancy clothes. Unfortunately, this is not true. The picture on the right is an advertisement for an all natural event in Alabama.

These poor little girls are made up to look, well, bad. I believe the makeup and the clothes and the suggestive movements and dances become what these children equate to beauty. By way of example, walk through a Walmart in the South any day of the week and I think you will have no trouble finding some young (or older) woman wearing makeup so thick that the color difference between her natural skin and the spackling is clearly evident. Sad thing is that these women truly believe they are beautiful --and know how to put on makeup.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't know how to put on makeup but, as a guy, I do have some experience looking at it. It's like the paint job on a car. I may not know exactly how to do it but I have a good idea about what looks good and what looks, uh, bad.



These girls grow up looking for acceptance from their mothers by attending these things. When they are older, they find themselves brainwashed into thinking that the kind of dress, makeup and actions that won them titles is what will be acceptable for society. Vulnerable is a more accurate description.

It's just amazing, and disheartening, to me when I find out what these things are really about -- acceptance for the few and privileged, and disparity and exclusion for others.

And that's all I got to say about that ... for now.