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Did you read the story about the woman who’s giving her 8-year-old daughter Botox? Kerry Campbell, the mom, is injecting the toxin into little Britney’s forehead, lips and around her eyes in a bid to prepare her to be a beautiful teen. Kerry is getting Britney ready for beauty pageants and, the single mom from the U.K. said, “I know one day she will be a model, actress or singer, and having these treatments now will ensure she stays looking younger and baby-faced for longer”(Pearce1).
As a writer who covers plastic surgery, cosmetic treatments and related topics, my first reaction was to give this news a pass. The first thing that occurred to me is that other writers will be all over the subject—it being such an obvious attention-getter. The hue and cry will reverberate for weeks, if not longer. The second thing that occurred to me is that there’s so much wrong with this picture it would be hard to know where to start.
But maybe there is a nugget in here worth commenting on: the spectacle of child beauty pageants. You probably know they occur, and you might even know that even babies can be contestants. But I bet there’s a lot you don’t know about beauty pageants for children.
Kareen Nussbaum, a student at Brooklyn College, wrote a research paper a few years ago on the topic that provides some basic background. In the paper, she quoted Charles Dunn, Pageantry Magazine’s publisher, saying that more than 100,000 children under 12 years old participate each year in beauty pageants. According to Nussbaum, stage mothers commented that pageant attire can cost up to $12,000. Then there’s the additional cost of makeup and hair designs, which, by the way, can take up to an hour for makeup and 90 minutes for hair (Nussbaum1).
There’s a lot to wonder about here. For one thing, there’s the sheer waste of it all. Why would a family invest time and money in beauty pageants for a daughter instead of something of real value, something lasting? Worse is the sexualization of many young girls involved in pageants as they don heavy makeup, sport revealing clothes and strike provocative poses.