By: Bethany Pitt
I was recently watching a programme called ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’. I’ve heard about it via friends and seeing it on,while flipping through the channels one evening, I decided to sit down and give it a watch … I was horrified.
The programme, for those of you who don’t know, shows girls between the ages of 5-6 performing in beauty pageants. From infants these girls are enrolled by their parents, specifically mothers. These little girls are dressed like miniature hookers, have enough makeup to make Elizabeth Taylor look conservative and show off like 21 year olds in a Johannesburg club.
What scared me the most was not the children themselves as much as the pressure each of them encountered from their parents. The girls were subtly controlled, manipulated and displayed like Barbie dolls on a shelf. It was as if each parent was trying to live through their daughters’ life again because they messed up their own somehow and somewhere along the line. One mother showed great disappointment because her child got the best personality prize in the beauty pageant, while behind the scenes another mother forced her screaming 5 year old, in a raw meat soaked bikini, to impersonate evidently the mother’s icon, Lady Gaga. In the second performance, this same child was shown performing an item in a cage with another rather provocative costume on. Seems like quite an ordeal for a five year old child.
What scared me even more was the judges who rated each individual girl and then handed out the different prizes. Examples of these prizes were: the best dressed child, the best dance moves, the prettiest child, the best personality, etc. At the end of the beauty pageant, the overall prize was given for the most beautiful or adorable child.
My sister and I sat mesmerized as we watched each child perform and each parent’s response behind the scenes. It was entertaining but the more we watched, the more ill we felt. Was this not an infringement on children’s rights? How is this acceptable in today’s society? We are teaching 5 year olds that if they do not win first prize for a beauty pageant they are deeply lacking and inferior to other ‘prettier’ girls. WHAT? Are you serious?
YES! Outer beauty is the idol of our society. A girl or woman who is extremely beautiful can get almost anything she wants: attention, love, stuff and guys. If you are not beautiful, well, ‘Hayikhona! shame for you, your mother loves you still’. Well, that’s debatable after this TV show.
Being shunned because one is not beautiful enough is a complex almost every girl already has. Why are we enforcing it on children? Those parents are laying the foundations for anorexia, bulimia, depression and insecurity far too early. Those 5 year olds will not be cute forever and many of them will one day face the same issues as those their parents live with on a daily basis such as obesity, insecurity and a deep rooted fear that they are not good enough.
Beauty should not be measured by what we look like on the outside. Beauty should come from your inner self. God has made each of us uniquely and perfectly. All the parts of your body you think are your flaws were created perfectly by God. Our maker makes no mistake. He does not agree when we say our eyes are too far set, our teeth are too skew, our eyes are not blue and our hair is too thin. He says, that we are “wonderfully and fearfully made”.
We don’t need the world’s stamp of approval, we only need God’s. And God definitely does not measure us by the high heels or lipstick we wear, nor by the cars we drive nor by the houses we live in nor by the body we were given. He judges us by our hearts. Steadily, He will transform and mould our inner selves into something beautiful if we just let Him work in us. It’s our inner selves that need the work and not our outer selves. God sees you every moment of your life and says ‘I love you for who you are, beautiful person.’ It’s time, then, to be beautiful on the inside for Him too.