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​How Beauty Pageants Can Affect Self Esteem


Beauty pageants have been around for a long time. They take place in anywhere from small midwestern towns to major metropolitan cities. Their purpose is to find, and crown, the most beautiful girl in the competition. Women of all ages participate in these events which judge them on beauty, talent, and sometimes intelligence.

The girls and women in these pageants are dressed up in fake hair, fake nails, and even fake breasts. They’re told to perform on stage like a trained seal so that they can be judged on their superficial talents.

The problem is that only one girl can be crowned “most beautiful”. The rest of the girls go home with second prize – potential psychological issues such as depression and eating disorders.

Psychological issues

study performed in 2005 found a high rate of eating and mental disorders in adults who participated in beauty pageants as a child. Many psychological experts have found that beauty pageants can lead to a whole host of mental issues amongst participants. When children are asked to focus on their looks, they can develop eating disorders and self-esteem issues that carryon through adult hood.

As beautiful as these girls are, whenever they lose a pageant, their self-esteem shoots to an all-time low. The support of friends and family mean nothing to them because these girls have been taught that the only opinion that matters is the opinion of a random judge.

The “Ideal” Pageant

If beauty pageants were all “doom and gloom” and set in a gladiatorial type setting, they would have been banned long ago by society. Advocates of beauty pageants state that they are an excellent way for young women to build self-esteem and confidence. They say it teaches girls how to be graceful losers and that the winners of these contents can have a stunning career in the public eye.

“And there she is, walking on air, she is. Fairest of the fair, she is. There she is, Miss America.”

The beauty pageant that most girls aspire to be in is the Miss America contest. It has become tradition for little girls to crowd around the t.v. set and watch the next Miss America being crowed – dreaming that one day they would be wearing the tiara on that stage.

In order to be a Miss America contestant, a girl first needs to be crowned a local beauty queen in the community she lives in. Proponents of beauty pageants state that more good than harm is done, as the local beauty queen helps bring together people in her community and move forward for the greater good.

While this type of rational is very admirable, the fact of the matter is that most beauty queens have to spend a good portion of their time keeping beautiful. From eating foods that won’t make her gain weight, to spending hours in the gym, it’s kind of hard to help the homeless when she’s concentrating on trying to fit into a size 2 swimsuit.

Brains vs. Beauty

Most pageants tend to focus on beauty, but there has been an increasing trend on attempting to judge women participants on talent and even intelligence. The problem is that “talent” is subjective (and limited to actions that can be performed on stage in front of an audience) and unless they’re given an IQ examination by a qualified psychologist, it’s hard to determine a woman’s intelligence by asking her to name the state capitol of Wisconsin.

Over the years, the standard of beauty for women has gotten more and more unreasonable. Advertisers and the media have played a large part in telling people what is and what isn’t beautiful. The models they feature in their magazines and advertisements are wafer-thin and have bodies that only .5% of women can even dream of getting.

By setting the standards for beauty so high, these advertisers create unrealistic goals that girls will never achieve. But that won’t stop them from trying – and buying the various beauty products that are advertised as something that will help bring out their beauty.

Moving forward

Plastic surgeons regularly see women with body issues who are looking to change their looks. Nowadays women think that the standard of beauty is to have a big butt, because Kim Kardashian has one and the media labels her as “beautiful”. These women often undergo painful and sometimes dangerous surgeries in an attempt to try and look like their reality show role models.

While the goals and intentions of pageants are very admirable, the negative aspects of the culture that has developed around it tend to far outweigh the benefits. If beauty queens were crowned on the basis of how much good they did, then Sister Theresa would have won the Miss Universe 20 years in a row.

Standard of Beauty

There are many valid reasons for women to be concerned about their looks. This is why plastic surgeons are so popular. But when women start obsessing over their looks, and engaging in unhealthy activities in order to obtain those looks, it’s something that needs to be addressed.

Women should feel confident with their bodies, no matter how they look. It’s not healthy for them to put their definition of “beauty” in the hands of another human being (eg: beauty pageant judges). The fact of the matter is that if they’re good looking enough to enter into a beauty contest, they probably better looking than 95% of the women out there.


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