Among the many questions raised by photographs of child beauty pageant contestants, there is the question of how we are to view them. Are these images art or exploitation? Creep show or camp? 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."
“People aren’t lukewarm about it,” Susan Anderson, the artist, says. “They either really like it, or they have a problem with it. But I have no reason to make something that people don’t react to one way or the other.” Anderson first became interested in the $5 billion-a-year child pageant industry after watching a television documentary about the history of beauty contests. She began to research the topic on the Internet, and, eventually, contacted the director of University Royalty Beauty Pageants to ask if she could document their upcoming event in Austin, Texas. That was 2005; she has photographed four pageants since. To capture her shots, Anderson sets up in the lobby of the hotels where the pageants are held -- Doubletrees and the like -- and photographs a gussied-up girl as she enters or leaves the competition. “They’ve just done their performance, or are waiting to go onstage. It’s this very charged environment,” Anderson says. Every child chooses her own pose, while the mothers, who have signed a release, watch. “I’m documenting a moment in time, not setting it up.”
http://www.salon.com/life/feature/20...eant_slideshowMoral and ethical questions aside, we wonder, simply, what motivates a parent to enter his or her daughter in a pageant. Because, as David Hinckley wrote in the New York Daily News, “[I]t doesn’t take a Ph.D. to realize that the parent, not the 4-year-old, is the engine driving this train.” Some pageant parents say they compete for the prizes (tiaras and cash), some for the hope of future fame, some to give their daughters a better life than they had. Still others talk of the discipline, poise and confidence pageants instill. Of course, one might argue that piano lessons, or ballet class, or athletics would instill those qualities, too.
I thought these pictures were beyond the pale so i had to post 'em.
Before I had my son I was really critical of these types of pageants. Now that I am a parent and convinced that my kid is quite possibly, the best looking on the planet, I kind of understand where they are coming from. They just really think their kid has something special and what parent doesn't think that?? I could never make the financial commitment though and my kid would so not go for any of this shit. I also think these people are dreaming if they think this is how actors and models are made.
But honestly, it doesn't bother me as much as it used to. Maybe I am desensitized from all the stories I read here.....