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Black Girls in Child Beauty Pageants

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With the popularity of shows like "Little Miss Perfect" and "Toddlers & Tiaras," Essence.com investigates whether young black girls competing in beauty pageants is harmless fun or detrimental to the girls' self-esteem. The answer will surprise you.

young beauty pageant contestant

Essence.com: For most 5-year olds, dressing up in Mommy's stilettos and lipstick is a rare treat. But for pint-sized beauty queens, this is far from child's play. According to "The Tyra Banks Show," there are over 25,000 annual kiddie beauty pageants, which generate revenue to the tune of five billion dollars. And if child pageant-themed reality shows like "Little Miss Perfect" and "Toddlers & Tiaras" are to be believed, the number of little Black girls competing for the crown is on the rise. So, is putting false lashes on a preschooler simply a harmless act ... or just plain sick?

Ericka Dunlap, Miss America 2004 (the sixth Black woman to hold the title) and "Little Miss Perfect" judge, claims that child pageantry can actually improve the self-esteem of girls of color.

Real the full story at Essence.com ....


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9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Renae April 9, 2010, 4:41 PM

I don’t care what anyone says, child beauty pageants are creepy. Aren’t all children beautiful anyway?

tennmom April 10, 2010, 12:06 PM

I also find pageants to be creepy. People have suggested I put my daughters onthe pageant circuit since they were babies. I want them to know it is okay to be beautiful (my 12 year old can pass for 18 easily & hates being noticed for her looks)but I want them to focus on their intelligence.
Seeing some of those little girls at our county fair’s pageant makes me sick. Little girls too young to walk through 17 year olds can be watched by hundreds of people at a time. I fail to believe that every man in that room is a relative or friend of one of those girls.

Hannah April 10, 2010, 10:27 PM

I agree. Child pageants are wrong. Have you watched the shows? The girls STRIP off their skirts! Yeah there are shorts underneath but I don’t want my child even pretending to be a stripper. And the makeup. We were not allowed to wear makeup out of the house until we were 16. Why do we want little girls to grow up so fast? And swimsuits? I’m a firm believer that swimsuits are for the beach. They are not to model and certainly not for a little girl to strut out on stage wearing. If there isn’t a pool nearby I dont want to see a little girl in a swimsuit. And NO child of mine will wear a bikini until they’re at least 15. I think the beauty pageants do more harm than good. I mean whats good? If your not that one lucky girl who wins then you’ve achieved nothing. At least according to all the pageant moms and kids on these shows.

michelle April 11, 2010, 10:00 PM

Yes, because nothing says “progress” like Black girls gaining self-worth by what others think of them.

Anonymous April 12, 2010, 7:32 AM

Why must it be about ‘black’ girls? This is 2010. Equality is prevelant in society and in the mind of everyone I am surrounded by. Shouldn’t the issue be “whether girls competing in beauty pageants is harmless fun or detrimental to the girls’ self-esteem?”

Well..... May 2, 2010, 11:19 PM

What I find so amazing is that when pageants are discussed for little black girls, no one bothered to interview a pageant director, a parent or child in pageants for the article. When fathers put their sons in Little League is that teaching them to be vain, or that they’re going to be professional athletes. The boys were form fitting pants, in almost all sports, is that perverted? The fact is you never see the REAL pageants that girls participate in from county fairs to festivals. All you see are the kids in drag pageants and from there people have decided they know all their is to know about pageants. OK…I did them and it led me to a career in television. In any case, real girls in pageants are the ones you see walking with poise, grace and dignity. Frankly who cares what others think, especially when what they think is based upon some distorted view of pageants. To heck with everyone we’re doing our own Toddlers and Tiaras, and showing what really happens in children’s pageants. Watch for it on Youtube because you’ll never see the real pageants featured on TV or in magazines.

Jackie May 4, 2010, 1:51 PM

This article is sad. Where does race come in?

kpgmms May 14, 2010, 3:13 PM

why is it only about black girls?!?!?!? what…white girls self esteem doesnt matter to those who arent of color?

arobins June 11, 2010, 8:58 AM

KPGMMS: You’re right, you hit it right on the nail! I as a person of color do not give a rat’s behind about the self esteem of white women or white girls. In fact I don’t know of any people of color who do. I surely never have AND I NEVER WILL. If living on a pedestal of priviledge granted by a white patriarchal regime that has used the systematic subjugation and brutality of women of color to further validate the supposed superiority of white womanhood and representing the western cultural ideal of everything that is synonymous with virtuous womenhood since the beginning of modern history isn’t enough…then oh well. Sigh…double sigh.


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