Child Beauty Pageants Foster Adult Body Dissatisfaction, Eating Disorders

Some pageant parents are driven by “achievement by proxy,” ignore the risks

Only yesterday, the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry witnessed the publication of a new study focusing on child beauty pageants.

Thus, specialist Martina M. Cartwright brought forth some new insights into how these competitions impact on the children's psychology, and also discussed why it is that some parents feel compelled to enter their kids into these pageants and go to extreme lengths to make sure they win.

Focusing on the now world renown “Toddlers and Tiaras,” Martina M. Cartwright concluded that some of the parents who spend whopping amounts of money on dressing up their children in glitz outfits are in fact displaying the classic signs of a psychological condition known as “achievement by proxy distortion.”

As this researcher explains, this basically means that such parents are unable to tell the difference between their needs and their children's.

Thus, driven by the need to feel successful, they sometimes end up abusing and exploiting their offspring.

Some of these psychological abuses consist in forcing the child to look and behave like a grown-up, look flawless and be unnaturally enthusiastic, Eurek! Alert explains.

“Parents have to know their child's limitations and not press them beyond that because later on that knocks their self esteem,” Martina M. Cartwright wished to emphasize.

According to this study, experiencing such stress in their early years can cause children to develop various psychological conditions once they reach adulthood.

Thus, because the entire focus is on looks, Martina M. Cartwright warns that some of the kids who go through multiple such competitions can display adult body dissatisfaction in their later years, and that it is also possible for them to suffer from various eating disorders.

As this specialist puts it, “They were fully made up; they looked like adult women, pint-size. They were judged on personality, but none spoke a word.”

Therefore, concerns must also be raised with respect to these competitions' tendency to sexualize young girls.

Presently, the glitz pageant industry in the US is worth about $5 billion (€3.86 billion).

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