Isabella Barrett prepares from TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras prepares for an event. ; Credit: Marc Andrew Deley/Getty Images
There will be no French equivalent of Honey Boo Boo as the country’s upper house of parliament voted to ban beauty pageants for children younger than 16. The government is making the move to crack down on what it says is the over-sexualization of children. The pageants are popular across France but don’t reach the level of intensity as the US where padded bras, high heels and thongs have showed up in the costumes of very young girls.
Concern over the pageants was fanned by a photo display in Paris Vogue that featured under-age girls in sexy clothes and postures, with high heels and heavy makeup. If it passes, anyone who “helps, encourages or tolerates” a children’s beauty pageant will face up to two years in prison and a $40,000 fine. Opponents of the bill argue that the penalty is too steep but the conservative representative who sponsored the ban says it’s necessary to protect children from being pushed into a sexual role too early.
Should beauty pageants for young girls be banned or limited? Some pageants in France have already banned the use of swimwear for young girls. Is that enough to protect them from possible harm? Are pageants helpful or harmful for young girls? Kids are subjected to sexual images in the media and advertising on a regular basis so should pageants take the blame for over-sexualization?
Dr. Martina Cartwright, nutritional scientist, professor at University of Arizona
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