American company Universal Royalty is staging the event; their homepage proudly claims to have been featured on Toddlers & Tiaras, which is like boasting your brand of bullets was featured in a school shooting. The company hosts competitions throughout the US “for babies, toddlers and teen[s]” and provide “consultation to help your baby, child or teen excel in beauty pageants.”
Universal Royalty first brought their child beauty pageant to Melbourne in 2011, most recently hosting an event in Sydney last June. (When we asked owner Annette Hill for a response to the concerns surrounding child beauty pageants this morning, she informed us her “interview fee” was $1,000 USD and provided PayPal details.)
A similar local company, Australian Royal Pageants, also hosts child beauty pageants around the country.
Speaking to Junkee this morning, Caitlin Roper, State Coordinator of Collective Shout, outlined the dangers of such competitions.
“Groups like Universal Royalty, who have a financial interest in continuing child pageants, claim child beauty pageants are innocent, fun and even confidence building”, Roper said. “The global research and child health professionals indicate that this is not the reality.
“We counter that child beauty pageants are exploitation. Little girls are made to undergo unnecessary and painful beauty treatments such as waxing, tanning and even botox. They are adorned with make up, high heels, false eyelashes and hair pieces, primped and styled to look and act like mini-adults, to flirt with the judges and to be sexy and alluring.”
Roper also pointed out that last year the French Senate voted to ban child beauty pageants, with organisers and parents who breach the law facing jail time, and fines of up to 20,000 euros.
“When girls are pitted against each other in a competition based on beauty and attractiveness, they learn that their value lies in their physical appearance, and that being pretty is the most important thing”, Roper said.
This comes hot on the heels of a report released last Tuesday by the Australian Institute of Family Studies which shows that the majority of ten and eleven-year-old Australian children are trying to control their weight, while those as young as eight are expressing body dissatisfaction.
“Our research shows that regardless of age or whether they were underweight, normal weight or overweight, at least two in five children desired a body size slightly thinner than the average body size”, Executive Manager of Longitudinal Study for Australian Children, Dr Ben Edwards, said. The report also links a child’s body satisfaction to their social-emotional and physical health.
Meanwhile, 1.5 million Australians tuned in to The Voice Kids last night, in which a 12-year-old girl was deemed not worthy, causing her to burst into tears. Her crying spell was not edited out which has caused some outrage, but this is not the point – she was reduced to tears for a television show.
Last week, I wrote about the problematic psychological effects this show will have on the children featured, and although it is heartening to see the likes of Channel Nine employee Karl Stefanovic voicing his concerns on this morning’s Today Show (“There’s a need for more protection in that situation”), this is only the first controversy surrounding the show – and sure to be among the more mild.
To donate to Collective Shout, click here. For Universal Royalty’s photo retouching service, which “can add teeth, eyelashes, remove blemishes, change colors and lots more” to a photo of your child, click here. To cheer yourself up with videos of Alison Brie rapping, click here.