Coming to a School Near You: In-School Beauty Pageants!

beauty pageant tiaraJust when I didn't think beauty pageants for little girls could get any more weird. Apparently in some schools in the south, they're just a normal happening. Yes, I said IN the school.

Um, excuse me? Mom who thinks girls gussying up to compete against each other over here is weird? This officially creeps me out more than Toddlers and Tiaras ever could.


A wide range of experts have termed beauty pageants "emotionally damaging" to our youth; a term that doesn't jibe with my notion of a school environment. Schools are supposed to be safe havens for kids. It's why we as parents put such pressure on teachers to be reasonable and rules to be fair, on administrators to root out bullying and bus drivers to drive safely. We turn our kids over to a school for six or seven hours a day, and we don't have a lot of control over what happens while they're there. So we expect them to nurture our kids.

Not tell our girls to go gussy up, because it's time to figure out which one of you is the purdiest. Girls are hard enough on themselves, constantly comparing their own developing bodies to those of their classmates. Heck, kids in general are hard enough on one another (ever heard the term: "kids are cruel"?).

School can so easily turn into a competition without anything formal: who got the best grades? Who has the nicest clothes? Whose mom lets her wear the most makeup? Excuse me for thinking the job of a school environment is to move kids past that, to allow them to look at the value of academics. I don't see how you can return to "do the best you can at math" after telling kids that what really matters is which girl is the fairest of them all.

Maybe I'm wrong here. My husband, the Southerner, looked at me cross-eyed when I brought this up. It seems to be a cultural thing -- he's not OKing pageants for his daughter, but brought up in a world where two local schools ran them, he's just USED to the idea. As he said, "They're private schools, they can do what they want."

Indeed, private schools can do "what they want," and parents are supposed to be aware of what "what they want" entails when they pay the bill. Which leads me to question number two. When parents preview private schools, who looks for "beauty pageant" on the list next to "small class size" and "art program"?

Would you be OK with your school holding beauty pageants for the girls?

Image via Siti Saad/Flickr

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