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Many moons ago, I had to produce a presentation for part of my GCSE English. I chose to focus mine on the various forms of child abuse in our society. I, of course, discussed cases of horrific abuse and social services failures.
Over the decade since my presentation, we have seen these atrocities come further into the open. After cases such as Victoria Climbie and Baby P, it was vowed that the deaths of these poor children would not be ignored and changes would be made. The most recent cases have highlighted further failings in social services and other authorities. Sadly, Daniel Pelka and Hamzah Khan paid the price.
These are easily recognisable as abuse. They are violent, horrific and have brought around the deaths of innocent children. We recognise this face of abuse and we are quick to announce our disgust and outrage. Rightly so. And please do not think I class all abuse as being of the same level. This is the most damaging and horrific.
However, in my presentation, I also broached areas that may not generally be considered to be abuse, but that are harmful in some way or another. I discussed children being hot-housed and sent to universities at an early age. For some children, this is not abuse and they rise to the challenge. In others, the isolation and loneliness have caused underlying psychological problems.
We can often see this with child actors/actresses too. The constant public attention and being forced to become an adult far sooner than ordinary children experience has long term lasting damage. Points in case, Lindsey Lohan and even Judy Garland.
My main focus was on the bizarreness and ridiculous nature of child beauty pageants. This deranged idea of taking children as young as 3 years old, caking them in make up, dressing them in wholly inappropriate outfits and making them parade around stages whilst blowing kisses and winking etc. If that wasn’t bad enough, they would then be judged and told who was the “prettiest” out of them all. All before they had even started playschool (kindergarten for American readers).
With France currently considering banning children’s “beauty pageants”, this is a question that will be the subject of a few debates. Clearly the French Government thinks it’s abusive to children, and anyone who has seen Toddlers and Tiaras cannot fail to see how disturbing the entire practice is.
This, for those who have not seen the show, is “Honey Boo Boo”. Her mother gives her “Go-Go juice” to keep her hyperactive for the shows. The “Go-Go Juice” contains Mountain Dew and Red Bull, and has as much caffeine as two cups of coffee. The fact that the mothers on the show consider this practice of artificially caffeinating their children as normal, regardless of the health damage it has on their children, is ignorant to the point of disturbing.
There are the counter arguments that these pageants give the child self confidence, but I fail to see how teaching them looks are more important in life than their own brains and skills are “self confidence building”. Especially as they are only as good as their last trophy.
With child beauty pageants being standard practice in the US, and ever increasing in the UK, I hope that France does push through the ban. Hopefully, it will cause other countries to look at the effect their behaviour, and the OTT view of “beauty”, has on our youngest generation.
It’s almost 100 years since women won the right to vote, and society still defines the sole of job of women as “being pretty” and nothing more. Don’t you think it’s time that changed?