The newspapers reported this week that a British family was opposed to the French ruling that there would be no more beauty pageants held in France for children. The French government have threatened organisers who flout the ruling with two years in prison and fines of up to £25,000 in measures brought in to tackle premature sexualisation.
The British family in question have six of their own children ranging from 3 to 13 in age and appeared to have entered all of them – boys and girls -into such beauty competitions. Between them, they had won 36 crowns and tiaras and 60 sashes, which I understand is an impressive achievement for the time that the family have been competing. The parents don’t seem to understand, or agree, with the French ruling.
How do we as parents and educators feel about this ruling? For me, I applaud the measures that the French government have taken on every level. This strong and decisive stand against premature sexualisation and an unhealthy obsession with image is one that I believe we should be aiming for in the UK.
With the increase in children suffering from eating related issues, with the rise in the pressure felt by young people to look a certain way because of the constant bombardment from the media, surely this type of ‘beauty’ competition is a reinforcement of all of the negative connotations pertaining to body image? I believe that we should instead be encouraging our children to take up a sport and channel their energies into another direction, be that music, drama, dance, sport, reading.
I hear many of you chuntering about this ideological desire, but surely the British media could support our country and its young people in a positive way? Following our amazing Olympic summer of 2012, we were promised the games would provide a sporting legacy for our young people. Now is an ideal time to encourage that promised greater sporting participation for our young people and promote healthy and positive activity.
Compare the sight of children with spray-tans, false nails, false eyelashes and ringleted hairpieces to children splasing around in a pool or zooming around on bikes and could any sensible adult really believe that the former is preferable?
My own feeling is clear: positive focus on the old-fashioned values of exercise, teamwork and fresh air hold much more value than the sinister pageant world of fake tans and nails for children and its twisted values.