Reasonable people can differ on beauty contests. Like the military, some ardent supporters argue pageants build confidence and open doors for young people. I don’t buy the argument in either case, because of the dangers involved in putting yourself on the line in the name of defense. In the case of the military, it’s to defend our country. In the case of the pageants, it’s the egos of the mothers behind the scenes who are exposing their kids to chemicals and the kind of criticism that can contribute to girls hurting themselves later on.
This is especially the case in the televised series aptly called Little Miss Perfect on WeTV. The little showgirls are primped and paraded, awarded points for perky stage presence and marked down when their flipper teeth, monstrous hair extensions and spray-on tans fall short of perfection. We may all want to measure up, but this is a despicably shallow message for a loving world, much less healthy girls.
Considered an unbiased documentary, the tots and tiaras reality show lures in an audience that follows the small town competitors from dance lessons in their makeshift home studios to air freshened hotel hospitality rooms in Dallas where the final coat of Aqua Net is unleashed to shellac the Barbarella teased tresses of the miniature bombshells. In other words, it takes off where Little Miss Sunshine stopped in exposing the highly competitive nature of these hotly contested side shows.
It should be renamed Little Miss Poison. It’s that toxic.
Pageant Director Michael Galanes (prounounced Ga-lan-ness) advertises this is more than just a pageant, and he is right. For many of us, it is Halloween night fun made serious business. Every girl loves to play dress up. The danger comes when they are vying for who is best and doused with chemicals to get there.
Consider the adults behind the pageants.
Ninety-nine percent of the mothers driving the ambition of the young contestants are women clad in camp wear prepared to do battle. And battle they do, as they coax the kids to perform.
The moms will readily admit they are funneling all of their energy into coaching their daughters, while funneling family savings into paying for hired hands they find on the circuit.
“It’s no different than putting your kids in football uniforms with big shoulder pads and helmets and sending them out into the games,” argues one of the moms,” rationalizing her notion that this is some kind of healthy sport.
Check out contestant Ashley’s mom on You Tube.
The judges have the television persona of former beauty queens with mile-high hair and augmented bodies, with the exception of the lone male judge, who is disguised as a conservative, suited executive. Yes, the fragile egos of adorable and sensitive young girls are in these people’s hands.
Unnecessary exposure to harmful beauty products.
As a green writer and journalist, I also abhor the environmental and biological damage being done to the children in the name of beauty – the synthetic kind considered essential to winning. Let me count the ways.
1. Acrylics: Put them on for a week so a teen can quit biting? Maybe. Put them on every weekend to win a beauty contest? I don’t think so. Aside from the risk of infection, acrylic nails and polishes are made with nasty substances such as formaldehyde, methyl methacrylate, and metal balls at the bottom of the polish containing traces of nickel, another allergen. Many nail and cosmetic products contain the plasticizer DBP (dibutyl phthalate) which is thought to pose a risk to fetuses. A CDC study revealed women of childbearing are likely to be 20 times more exposed to DBP than the rest of the population.
2. Synthetic Hair Spray: It’s the number-one armor used by hair professionals on the children to hold the coiffure. Never mind how much damage it does to the hair, itself. The ingredients in synthetic hair sprays include Polyvinylpyrrolidone, Propylene glycol, Polyvinyl alcohol, Hydrofluorocarbon, Denatured alcohol and Carboxylmethylcellulose. These toxins are certainly harmful to the health of the children being sprayed. Symptoms connected to hair spray poisoning include rashes, low blood pressure, eye burning, burning throat, breathing problems, blurred vision and even coma.
3. Cosmetics: These aren’t applied once in a while for special events like a relative’s wedding, but caked on like masks by professional make up artists using professional cosmetics, which means phthalates. The plastic softeners found in consumer items from cosmetics to kids’ toys are shown to damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive systems after absorbed through the skin or inhaled. A CDC study found the largest amounts of these chemicals are in women of child bearing age. Studies by the Environmental Working Group also found these very chemicals among the 232 pollutants in the umbilical cords of 10 babies tested in five states.
Lasting damage isn’t so sunny.
Of course, there is always the damage that will be measured in the years to come: The psychological repercussions of both winning and losing these dreadful contests.
Little Miss Perfect may develop poor self esteem, become anxious or depressed, cut or starve herself, become susceptible to unhealthy relationships, or even cultivate her own pageant toddler.
Thank goodness Olive Hoover had adults around her who knew when to say “No!” to false eyelashes and glue on their living doll.
Main Image: You Tube