Are Beauty Pageants Exploitive?

Exploitation in beauty pageants is an issue of constant debate. A considerable amount of people believe that beauty pageants, particularly child beauty pageants, unfairly exploit contestants in a sexual manner by featuring contestants wearing heavy makeup and age inappropriate costumes. Others take the position that beauty pageants are a worthwhile endeavor that teach contestants poise and confidence.

When speaking of the debate of beauty pageants, voices of dissent vary based on whether the contestants are children or adults. Most adult concern lies with the idea of having contestants take the stage in swimsuits. Contestant answers in the Question and Answer category have also come under scrutiny in recent years, the concern being that beauty is emphasized over brains in pageants.

Children’s pageants, however, face particular criticism. France has even proposed banning them because they sexually exploit young children. Popular television shows about children and pageants have only fueled the debate by featuring parents who seem to force children into participating or who seem overly obsessed in the quest to turn their children into pageant queens. The shows have featured young children dressed in such controversial costumes as Madonna’s breast coned leotard doing dance moves that pageant critics say are inappropriate.