I received an email inquiry from a reporter today asking what I thought the effect of the Jon Benet Ramsey case has on the pageant system. It occurs to me that there might be some parents out there who would love to participate in pageants but fear the reaction of the general public, friends, and family. Therefore, I would like to address these issues.
Following are the questions asked and how I feel about them according to my observations in my daughter’s time as a pageant contestant. (She is preparing to go the National competition in what will be her second pageant).
Question: Has the Jon Benet Ramsey case affected your view of children’s beauty pageants and has the children’s pageant industry suffered as a result?
Answer: Personally, I would not say that the industry as a whole has suffered. In fact, I feel that the industry has benefited (unfortunately at the cost of a child). The pageants I have been involved in stresses natural looking children. Now, clothing is age appropriate, and no makeup is allowed under age 13. What a huge improvement! You can almost imagine how some sick person would “claim” to “be in love” with a little girl, dressed like a cheap adult, makeup, and all.
Just like myself, I am sure that many parents, like me looked at the image of the young beauty queen and decided they would never dress their child like that.
Question: The image the public has of child pageantry is all about pushy parents and provocatively dressed offspring, and as the Jon Benet images showed, children performing in what is perceived by many to be unsuitable for their age. What is it really like?
Answer: Anywhere you have precocious children in the public eye you will have pushy parents. You can spot them a mile away, and learn to avoid them. In the pageant system my daughter is in, provocative dressing get low scores, so it is silently discouraged.
Question: What does your daughter get out of the pageant system?
Answer: I can say that my previously fearless child has become even more bold and outgoing. She is now thinking about goals in life and forming opinions on things that matter like war and environment. I feel that the interview process of the pageant is priceless in getting children to think about things that will affect them in the future.
Question: One of the main criticisms of pageantry (Most especially the Jon Benet Case) is that it sexualizes children and plays into the hands of pedophiles. Is this true?
Answer: I believe it did because of the way the girls were made up and dressed. As a whole, I do not believe that it still does. As for pedophiles, parents should be especially diligent and keep their kids closer than normal at these events and even every day if they win.