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A 9-Year-Old's Troubling Obsession

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Tween is fixated with her looks, and won't leave the house without makeup.

The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet featured a 9-year-old fixated with her body image and appearance. Could this tween's disturbing behavior be tied to her participation in child beauty pageants?


Family counselor Rosanne Tobey says absolutely yes. "This mother is concerned about her daughter's body image issues, but she helped create them!" she says. "By being put in pageants at such a young age, this child has been trained to think you have to be completely made up, with hair fully done, to get attention and positive reinforcement.  She doesn't want to walk out of the house without a full face of makeup because she thinks everyone's looking at her and perhaps judging her, because that was her experience in the pageants."

Rosanne says kids don't really understand that pageants are different from the real world. "Instead, the pageant becomes the lens through which they interpret everday life," she says. "She probably doesn't understand that she is beautiful even without the makeup on, because she'd never enter a pageant without wearing tons of makeup. She doesn't get to be a normal kid, because she doesn't even know what normal is anymore."

What is your advice for this looks-obsessed tween?

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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anon June 11, 2008, 7:09 PM

It’s all the Mother’s fault.

Kristine June 11, 2008, 9:57 PM

THIS IS ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE! When I was nine, I was running around playing basketball with the boys, and my idea of “dressing up” was wearing a skirt to school (with shorts underneath, of course, so i could play at recess). This is absolutely awful and sad.

Anony June 12, 2008, 6:16 AM

OK, Yes it is a great deal, the mother’s fault, but let’s be fair here. Does Daddy treat Mom well or disrespect her and treat beauty queen like a princess? What really is the family dynamic there? Further we have to admit that society as a whole has come to a place that is world’s away from a simple 1950’s cute baby contest. We have these pageants set up for every town, county, parish, industry, etc. and the age groups are becoming ridiculous as is the clothes, makeup, and staging.

I get that ultimately it all falls back on the mom’s shoulders and as such she should take a stand while she still can and before this child becomes a boy-crazed permiscous teen, I know I would, but sorry Anon I think your statement was a bit simplistic and misses the point of this site.

This isn’t about one mom screwing up her kid. It is about a general sway happening in the wind of society and a warning to the possible results, if we do not wake up as moms, parents, and members of a society that influences our children.

Mother of two boys June 12, 2008, 8:51 AM

It goes without saying that such behavior from a 9 yr old is due to a parenting problem but a more helpful discussion is what was the “problem”? Plenty of girls participate in pageants and don’t have such obsessions. Parents have to set appropriate boundaries. Explain why make up is okay in a pageant or theater but not appropriate for a girl of that age (and then DON’T ALLOW IT OFF THE STAGE). Just as we explain that swimsuits are okay at the pool or water park but not to wear out to other places or that pajamas are great for around the house or a slumber party but not to wear out shopping!

I have noticed that parents seem to have taken a “what’s the harm” approach to such matters and, as a result, kids don’t understand the idea of “appropriate for the situation”.

Anonymous June 12, 2008, 2:30 PM

Anony gets it best.

Random teenager January 10, 2009, 12:42 PM

That is so stupid. I wasnt allowed to wear make up intil i was 12+13 years old! But being 9 and wearing it every day? Yes I wear make up but not all the time, because i dont care what i look like w/ out make up. All it does is add color.

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