While Miss America is Subjected to Racial Slurs, French Senate Outlaws Beauty Pageants For Kids

The French Senate has voted to ban beauty pageants for children under 16 in an effort to protect young girls from “hyper sexualisation” too early in life, France’s The Local reported.

Under the new laws, anyone who organizes or enters a child under the age of 16 into a pageant may now face up to two years imprisonment and a fine of up to €30,000 ($40,000 USD).

The Senate backed the move by 196-146 votes as a amendment to a law on women’s rights proposed by conservative lawmaker Senator Chantal Jouanno, author of “Against Hyper-Sexualisation: A New Fight for Equality”"

 “Let’s not let our daughters think from such a young age that they will be judged according to their appearance. Let’s not let commercial interest impact on social interest,” Jouanno told the Senate.

However, not all were in favor of the move with Michel Le Parmentier who has organized the “mini-Miss” pageants in France since 1989 saying that regulations rather than a ban would have been a more appropriate solution.

Beauty contests in France and worldwide have been rife with controversy and subject to public outrage in recent months following a number of incidents including a contest dethroned for posing in semi-naked photographs; a Vogue magazine cover which featured a provocative image of a 10-year-old girl and the recent disappearance of a beauty queen and her mother days before she was to compete in a competition.

Such pageants which involve dressing girls up to look like adults with extreme hair and makeup have been criticized for sending a negative message to young girls – namely that they are sexual beings that should be judged by their physical appearance. 

Furthermore, advertising and marketing campaigns have been guilty of promoting children as sexual objects with some designers even selling lingerie for girls as young as 4.

Yet, the problem is not isolated only to child beauty contests.  This week, the newly crowned Miss America, Nina Davuluri, was subject to numerous cruel and racial taunts on social media based on her physical appearance – that she was the first woman of Indian descent to with the pageant, USA Today reported.

The 24-year-old was referred to as “the arab”, while at least one commentator called her a terrorist.  Such an incident raises another concern with the Miss America and similar beauty contests which is how female 'accomplishments' are inextricably linked to physical beauty in our society.  

While all the Miss America contestants are arguably smart, educated and talented women, they’re reduced to sex objects under a glassy façade of selecting a ‘role model’ to represent ‘American womanhood’, as Equality for Women lamented:

“Here's the problem with Miss America/Miss USA: remove the college degrees, charitable endeavors, advocacy efforts, and otherwise wonderful personality traits....

...and what you still have is a "tradition" that tells young women and girls that their success will forever be scaled on how conventionally beautiful they are, the sparkle and sheen of their ball-gowns, and how well they strut in stilettos and a bikini for a panel of judges that assign them role-model-worthiness based on that,” the feminist community Facebook group said.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.