Saturday, April 9, 2011

To the Producers of "Little Miss Perfect"

I don’t know if it is possible to find a more blatant example of society’s absurd beauty standards than the beauty pageant world. A few days ago, I watched an episode of “Little Miss Perfect,” a reality television series following young girls who compete in beauty pageants. A red flag went off in my head when I listened to a disheartening exchange between a mother and daughter. The mother described to the camera that her youngest child was not winning any beauty pageants unlike her “talented” older sisters. When the mother asked the five-year old why she thought she did not win any pageants, she looked directly at the camera, tears streaming down her face, and said, “Because I am so ugly. I’m ugly.”

My first source of anger was at her parents. This little girl thinks she is “ugly” because she does not win beauty pageants. Her feelings of self-worth are solely based on her exterior, and she is only five-years-old. I also felt embarrassed and ashamed that I was let in to such a private moment in this little girl’s life. I felt ashamed for watching this show as a “guilty pleasure” when it exploits the destruction of young girls' self-esteems. While I do think the parents have some responsibility since they enter their children in these pageants, aren’t we all contributing to the problem if we watch these shows, keep up the ratings, and forget that the people we are watching are human? Why is seeing someone in pain so entertaining? Another sad realization is that even if this little girl begins winning, she will base all of her feelings about herself on her appearance, perpetuating this idea that physical beauty is the only prize worth living for.

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