Rant: Child Beauty Pageants

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(Listen to the “Child Beauty Pageant” Rant)

I’m sure you’d be shocked (shocked, I tell you!) that there are a few things in this world that make bile rise into my throat fast enough to hit speeds capable of breaking the sound barrier.

First, the “My Child is an Honor Student” bumper sticker. Look, I’m very happy for you, Mama Bear, but in this day and age if you’re just a random stranger in a minivan idling front of me at the drive-thru at Wendy’s, how can I tell those alleged good grades were achieved by honest means? I’m not implying someone got ahead thanks to hand jobs, but given how many kids these days look up to the Kardashians, we can’t rule anything out.

But even more annoying to me, absolutely grating on my nerves, are three little words that when used together in a sentence, make me choke on the vomit in my own mouth in quantities that would make Mama Cass blush.

Child Beauty Pageants.

Since the 1960s, children ranging from the tender ages of six months to twelve years have gathered in musty hotel ballrooms across the USA to model sportswear, evening attire and perform dance and talent routines all in the name of being judged for their looks, poise and perfection.

And in said pageants it is not unusual to see children with highlighted or bleached hair, or even some young contestants with false choppers used to cap and mask missing front teeth known as “flippers,” or even false eyelashes.

The last kid I ever saw with flippers was from Arkansas and his parents were brother and sister.

But I digress.

Parents pay dearly for this privilege. Entry fees for these competitions range from ten dollars to two hundred dollars. Dresses can cost up to five grand, with most averaging around one thousand. Some call this child beauty pageant thing an industry. I’m thinking a better word for it would be “racket.”

It has been said that children are the quickest-growing segment of the beauty pageant market, with children’s competitions attracting over three million kids per year. All for what? At these child beauty pageants the judges are looking for something that is often referred to as: the complete package. Essentially, what you end up with is every stage mother trying to shape their children into some twisted ideal of beauty. Pardon me, but there’s something a bit too “Mein Kampf” about every girl striving to look like a living doll.

You know who else was a living doll? That’s right, Chucky. You know what beauty pageant children and Chucky both have in common? Both want to steal your heart. It’s just that Chucky does it with a meat cleaver and beauty pageant toddlers do it with dimples.

As far as it being a so-called talent competition, puh-leeze. You can’t even try to pull the cashmere over my eyeballs. Let’s just fess up and say what it really is: a cuteness competition. Most children that age don’t really have a serious talent. Sorry, Sarah Jean, but your voice doesn’t sound like Beyonce—unless Beyonce happens to be pummeling a burlap sack full of cats with a large wooden mallet. Quite honestly, your version of “On the Good Ship Lollipop” was more butchered than a Christmas day ham.

And what do the toddlers really have to offer as a talent?

Jessica, age eighteen months, will be sorting blocks today for her talent and Michelle, age two will be showing us how she can walk up stairs by herself. What do babies do for the talent competition anyway? Go three hours without shitting themselves? Which, when you really think about it, is a talent that doesn’t last forever.

Anybody knows that to develop a serious talent, you have to sacrifice hundreds, if not thousands of hours to dedicate yourself to one thing. That’s not a childhood. Look at Michael Jackson. Sure he became rich and successful, but he also lived with a chimp and the skeleton of the Elephant Man in a circus called Neverland. Do you really want your kid to be that fucked up?

But who am I asking? The parents of these child beauty pageant contestants? Twisted weirdoes foisting their own lost ambitions on their kids in order to live out some kind of perverse fantasy of princessdom?

Hell yes, I blame the parental units. Let me give you an example of just how messed up these irresponsible morons are. I saw a clip from one child pageant reality show, “Toddlers and Tiaras,” where this one mom from Bumblefuck, Nowhere was taking her daughter for a pre-pageant spray-on tan…Hold on, it gets better…at an automotive paint shop.

Because nothing prepares your kid for a beauty pageant appearance like a glo-coat from Earl Scheib.

I know there are far too many people in this world so dangerously under-educated they can’t understand that the saying “mold your children” is a figurative term. What they’re supposed to be shaping is their insides but what they’re doing is creating a dynamic in these kids’ lives where they are teaching them that it’s okay to value yourself in a very superficial way.

Is it really okay to create girls who believe that their only value is in their looks, perfect teeth, spray tans and gorgeous dresses? As they get older, beautiful swans sometimes turn into ugly ducklings. What’s going to happen to their psyches when they get acne or braces or don’t develop physically? Their looks may change, as they will throughout life, and the girls will suffer conflicts about who they are, where they belong, and how they feel about themselves, even more so than most teenage girls. These kids are going to be about as stable as an epileptic on a Tilt-a-Whirl.

Is it your intention to make your kids think that the prettiest get the most prizes? I’m sorry, but these are harsh life lesson best learned by your kids later on in high school.

I’ve read that many child beauty pageant organizers believe that it’s a “harmless pastime that instills girls with confidence and self esteem.” Yeah, if you’re the one who wins. If you’re the little loser that didn’t, well, blame your mommy. She’s the one who probably gave you that ugly face.

Oh, the humanity.

Generally, sometime between the ages of four to six, a child starts trying to figure out their place in the family and world. Children use their greatest role model, their same sex parent, to gauge who they are and who they want to be. If that same sex parent happens to be a pageant mom who is constantly bullying, yelling, screaming and criticizing, all in the name of fun, then shouldn’t we be concerned about how that child will feel about their role models later in life? Some moms may think this is a bonding activity, but acting like a stage mom from hell does not show children they are unconditionally loved. It shows girls that this type of behavior is okay, which is perfectly fine if you happen to be a rabid wolverine.

One psychology professor who studied former young performers found that mothers who served as managers have far less stable and positive relationships with their children. This same professor also happened to discover that the incidence of substance and alcohol abuse was higher among former kid performers. Or as I like to call it, The Lindsay Lohan Effect.

Surprise. Surprise.

So it begs the question, how many of these kids grow up hating their mothers or fathers? How many of these girls end up as drug addicts or runaways or end up living in the No Wire Hangers halfway house for former child beauty pageant queens. To me, it seems like borderline child abuse. I say that because I’ve seen way too many clips on The Soup of body stocking-clad four-year-olds doing gyrating dance routines to Madonna’s hit song “Borderline.”

You think I’m kidding? You know the kind of shit that has been marketed to the child beauty pageant demographic?

Padded bras and pole dancing kits.

I’m serious.

Fuck it. Why not make pole dancing part of the talent competition? Given how many young women with low self-esteem we’re creating with this bullshit, it’ll at least give the girls a decade’s head start on their eventual careers as strippers.

And you’d think me, the guy who once petitioned the IOC to make vaginal ping pong ball shooting an Olympic event (Summer, not Winter because I’m not a complete asshole), would be thrilled to have more strippers. No! Laws of supply and demand. You’re going to have too many strippers who are going to have to undercut each other to get any business. Hey, I’m all for cheap lap dances, but it undermines the economic equilibrium and you end up with a shitty product.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you dug through the paperwork and you found that these child beauty pageant networks were being funded by a coalition of psychologists who treat teenage girls for eating disorders and body dysmorphia.

Seriously, children haven’t been this exploited since Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle.”

I read an article where one event organizer was asked if child beauty pageants encouraged pedophilia. She dodged the answer by saying, “Well, that’s always a concern.”

A concern? Lady, you ever see these men who organize child beauty pageants? Some of these guys are just one well-trimmed beard away from a search warrant for the crawl space under their house. You know, you can always tell the pedophiles in the audience. Those are the guys whose faces light up like a fat kid watching a stuffed crust pizza commercial.

Just so we’re clear, I’m not saying all men involved in such endeavors are suspect, but if you’re a guy and your resume includes “Child Beauty Pageant Organizer” and “Shopping Mall Easter Bunny” I’m keeping my eye on you because I’d bet a hundred bucks that at some point in the not-too-distant past you’ve had to go door to door introducing yourself to your neighbors because it was mandated by law.

When you’re a little kid, everybody’s pretty and handsome and cool and pretty. Childhood is fleeting, and the only time you’re allowed to think everyone is beautiful and life is fair. I’m begging you, pageant moms, don’t deny your children their innocence just because you were never picked to be prom queen. I really don’t need to see a six-year-old wearing more eye shadow than Lady Gaga on Halloween. Little girls should grow up thinking they are beautiful because their parents tell them so, not because they were forced to parade around in front of a bunch of a people at the local VFW Hall.

What is this? Best in Show? Why not just take them in front of the judges and run them up and back on a leash?

Just remember, for every beauty queen, there’s a room full of losers…which of course is the same dynamic as real life. But still, you know what’s good for a toddler’s self-esteem? Parental praise, not subjecting them to public humiliation and a path down life’s cruel spiral where there’s an eating disorder with their name on it.

And for those pageant mommies out there who just aren’t satisfied to let your kids be kids, tell you what. You want to make your child look like an adult? Give them a cigarette, some dark circles under their puffy eyes and a handful of bills they can’t pay. That should do the fucking trick.

*****

Read this rant and more like it in my bestselling book: PISSED OFF (Is Better Than Being Pissed On…)

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