Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Little Beauties

Airing again on VH1 on Thursday April 26th, 2007 3:30pm will be a new episode of the the show Little Beauties: Ultimate Kiddie Queen Showsdown. The website listing a brief summary of the episode and when future ones will air.

Now, you might wonder why I am telling you all this. Well, when I was a teen, I actually competed in some pageants. The ones north of the Mason-Dixon Line are a little different than the ones that will be shown on this particular program, but I think getting a look into the "true" pageant circuit of the South gives you a better understanding of what the industry's really about and how extreme the pageant business has become.

Watching this program you'll be introduced to girls mostly under double-digits. As you watch, make notes on all the things you think might be slightly strange for a 6 year old to be doing. Whether it be the photo-shoots covered in fur and Aqua Net, the Pro-Am modeling competition where coordinated music, costumes and dance moves, including the strategic removal of certain articles of clothing, are judged by adults, the tanning and hour long make-up sessions or the "passion" of the parents for their own "little beauty" to do perfectly, may be a few examples.

Note as you watch that the narrator of the show is actually the most sought after pageant MC in the industry. This show is not making much of an attempt to present an objective representation of pageants. The show clearly shows favor to the industry, giving the impression even more so to both the general audience and those involved in pageants, that this subculture is healthy, normal and has no need for critical examination.

In a country where we are so concerned with perverts, child molesters and censorship, why then is VH1 trying to mainstream this subculture even more by airing it on a regular cable station. Ironically, in the South where most of these events take place is where there is more of a concentration of conservative citizens, but looking at these pageants and the way in which young girls are exploited does not give you the impression that the adults around them are concerned with the conservative values they so proudly stand for. Instead, they dress their daughters in provocative baby-doll glamour and slather them with self-tanner, make-up and hair products. They try there best to make them look as little like themselves as possible, they show them the "right way" to walk, talk, move, dance, behave, dress, etc. From infancy they are told who they are is not good enough, that if they want to win they have to be somebody else. Furthermore, they place them in situations where then they have to be judged by adults who will make the decision on whether or not they are truly "beautiful". Before these girls hit puberty they will have developed opinions on their bodies, behavior and on other girls that will tell them that stigmatized perfection is normal, that conformity is key and that those who don't are the weird ones.

Moreover, this mainstreaming only promotes these ideas to the general public. Also, it only makes the sexualizing of little girls seem more normal. Please watch and let others know. Hearing the response to it from others is the only way to know whether I'm being overly critical or if there is something even more outrageous brewing in out culture.