Hypersexualization of Tots

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One of the common criticisms of US society is the continuing movement of what’s acceptable or condoned in the sexual expression arena. The latest criticism concerns very young girls who appear in tiny-tot beauty pageants.

The pageants have been going on for decades, but only first came to the general public’s awareness after JonBenet Ramsey was murdered. This child was killed at six years-old in 1996. Still an unsolved murder, one theory has it that her appearance in child beauty pageants may have attracted a predator.

The current controversy has to do with how much these tots should be “altered” to look like adult versions of those they are imitating. At what point do they cease being toddlers in cute outfits and move into the realm of inappropriate and sexually titillating areas?

Some of the common “modifications” are revealing dresses, false teeth and adult style makeup. Suggestive moves and poses are not forbidden. A recent CNN report tells of one child trying on false breasts – small enough to fit her frame, but large enough to appear sexually mature.

Those against the tot pageant trend feel we are inappropriately sexualizing children and perhaps appealing to the prurient interests of those who prey upon the under-aged. Others simply respond with an “ick factor” and report disgust. Supporters point out that pedophiles are attracted to children as they already appear—there is no added risk by making children look more sexually mature.

There’s also the problem of choice. Since the children who may be objectified in this way are not the one’s making the decisions, it falls back on the parents – usually a mother who enjoys the competition and drives the pageant industry. If it takes a “sexy” look to win, many are willing to follow the trend. Those parents involved claim pageants are beneficial to their children and teach things like self-respect, poise and instill a competitive spirit.

Readers can judge for themselves by watching the TLC show, Toddlers and Tiaras.

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