Creepy Beauty Pageant Story

Beauty pageant stories are nothing new. The “trend” itself is something you either really like or dislike.

While I don’t care for the kid pageants, I admit that I will sit through a Miss America or Miss Universe show if I happen to catch it on TV.

But there were all kinds of new — and creepy — factoids that I picked up in this Salon article by Amanda Fortini. For example, I did not know that children as young as 6 sported fake teeth to mask their baby teeth. Or that the child pageant industry is a $5 billion-dollar-a-year money maker. Here is more from the Salon article:

The little faces spackled with makeup, the hair poufed and shellacked, the fake tans, fake teeth (called “flippers,” they mask baby teeth), fake nails and, often, fake smiles — all of it seems so jarring on toddlers and tweens. Looking at these pictures, shot by Los Angeles-based fashion photographer Susan Anderson and recently published in a book called “High Glitz: The Extravagant World of Child Beauty Pageants,” you can’t help feeling unsettled. The mind knows these are very young girls, and yet the eerie effect of all the cosmetics and correctives is to create the illusion of child-women far older than their actual years. Several seem to be on the cusp of middle age, as though they should be shaking a martini rather than twirling a baton. The mind keeps mentally adjusting, attempting to square the disjunction between tiny bodies and unnaturally mature faces. “Freaky,“ said a man standing back to examine the photos at the Los Angeles opening. “It’s not right.”

….Anderson’s main interest lies in the “High Glitz” aesthetic — the excessive makeup and Elvis-in-Vegas spangled outfits — wherein more is always better, and the trendy hairstyle of the season might be inspired by that year’s special-edition Barbie.

You have got to see the photo in the article. The 7-year-old girl, “Alex,” really did look like Barbie. Shudder.


20 thoughts on “Creepy Beauty Pageant Story

  1. Creepy

    and exploitative in most situations.  I say most because there really are some kids who do occasional pageants and it’s no big deal.  But most of the time you have to do all the creepy stuff to even have a chance.

  2. Couldn’t vote

    because you didn’t have “Completely Fucked Up” as one of the options.  

    But I do not see the value in any beauty pagent whether you’re 4 or 74.

  3. Wow

    Alex looks like she’s had her lips plumped.  Shudder.

    Debate about pageants aside (I oppose them, for the record), why on earth would anyone want to hide baby teeth?  

  4. Y’all have never seen Toddlers and Tiaras have

    you? you have flase teeth so you can be the “total package” from Maine to Mississippi as they are spray tanning and highlighting and buffing and plucking these tiny girls they all say, “For high glitz you need the total package…” and they all say that it is an “investment” in their daughters futures. Many times these are poor people who spend every last dime on entrance fees and clothing and photographs. It literally makes NO sense.

    • I’ve only seen

      clips on The Soup.  But I still can’t make my poor brain understand what’s wrong with baby teeth!  Are you saying that the pageants have a contract with the false teeth people, so they’ve convinced the parents that every body part, including perfectly attractive baby teeth, needs money spent on it?  Does “total package” mean that nothing should be unaltered?

      Of course, I’m one of those freaks who even prefers little girls without make up and hair spray.  And high heels can be worn, but shouldn’t actually fit–they should be her mom’s.

      • Count me a member of that club

        Yeah, me, too. I don’t even let Avery wear nail polish (I keep stalling her, telling her I am trying to find kids polish that isn’t full of so many bad chemicals). She’s 5, she has her whole adulthood to wear make-up and be as glam as she wants to be. I know how fun it is to dress up, but this pageant stuff is so twisted.

    • This is what I’m wondering

      this has been going on long enough that we should have some idea about what these girls go on to do right?  Do they really go on to do pageants as they get older?  And THEN what?  They don’t last forever.
      And it seems to me it’s getting a lot worse now.  Like Jon Benet pageants were weird and all but she looked like a glamour shot not an ad for a plastic surgeon.

    • It’s like an accident

      If I flip on it I can’t turn away but then feel guilty watching it.  I saw an episode where they were doing the children’s ballroom dance circuit.  I found that fascinating as all of the instructors and parents were either Ukranian or Russian and came here after the Soviet Union crumbled.  That seemed like a heritage thing but boy are they strict.

  5. creepy and exploitative

    Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. Wrong. there are so many things wrong with these child beauty pageants I don’t have time in the day to enumerate them all.

    Now, don’t misunderstand me. I think little girls playing dress up is fun. I loved playing dress up. My daughter already loves makeup so I put together a little makeup case full of fake makeup for her to play with. But there is no way, no WAY! in h-e-l-l that I would spray tan her, put fake teeth on her, dress her up like a hooker and parade her in front of people to judge her.

    WTF. It should be illegal. It’s porn.

    Now let me tell you what I really think . . . :)

    • like a hooker

      that is the most objectionable part to me — if you ever watch Toddlers and Tiaras [yes, sometimes I will flip past it and I just can’t look away], those kids thrust their hips to the side while blowing kisses in ways that are WAY beyond their years. And Mama is out in the audience showing them what to do — they are just mimicking HER.


  6. Wow

    that slideshow! Most of them look like drag queens. How is this aesthetic even palatable or marketable? It’s grotesque and a bastardization of all things cute and girly. Gah.

    • In the article, the photographer

      for the “High Glitz” book spoke of taking the shots in the lobby either immediately before or immediately after the child is “on” for the competition.

      I just can’t imagine.  Being either such a mother or such a child, that is.

  7. did anyone see little miss sunshine?

    i loved that movie.  this made me think of that

    and of that twit carrie prejean, or what ever her name is.  did she do the pageants as a kid?  because if it turns kids into her, then blech.

  8. There was a show a few years ago

    on TLC about how they were going to totally revamp Miss America, really turn it into the contestants being judged on excelling in every area … intelligent conversation, talent, confidence, etc. They put all the finalists in a house together for a month and worked really hard to get the women to act like themselves–real people after being pageant-obsessed all their lives, got them to get real haircuts, wear real clothes, talk about controversial topics, etc. They gave them prizes for most adapting to the “new” pageant norms. It was a great show and it really brought home how smart and talented the contestants are (Miss America is a scholarship contest, after all–the contestants have to use the money to go to college or grad school). We loved that show and were really looking forward to seeing the pageant, which I’d never watched before.

    Unfortunately no one told the judges any of this, and they totally panned the women who’d excelled in the show for not being glam enough, and praised the fake women who’d resisted the changes.

    TLC didn’t do the show again.

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