Here in North America, there is a lot of finger pointing judgment and feminist critique of the sexualization of girls in the child beauty pageant industry. What are those parents thinking? Why would they put their children through that? Don't they understand the consequences of it? Those are questions that we ask, while hoping that parents will eventually wake up and just put a stop to it once and for all. But will they, if we all tune in and give them the ratings and the fame they are looking for?
In France, they are moving beyond the judging and the critiquing and the hoping. As part of proceedings in relating to a law on equality of men and women, the French Senate voted 196 for and 146 against an amendment proposed by senator Chantal Jouanno making it illegal for parents to enter girls under the age of 16 in beauty pageants ("mini-miss"). Parents who enter their children in these competitions could face two years of prison time and fines of 30,000 Euros (around $40,000). UPDATED TO ADD: It isn't just parents who could face jail time and fines, but anyone (including but not limited to parents) who is organizing, promoting, encouraging or condoning children's entry into beauty contests.
Another proposal by Jouanno to regulate child modeling was defeated.
Speaking about the issue on CBC last year, Chantal Jouanno said:
Our duty, as a government, is to ban things which are contrary to equality, which are contrary to the dignity, and which are contrary to the high interest of the children.
Some are applauding this move and others are saying that the government has more important things to do than to meddle in a family's choice of hobbies for their child.
What do you think? Are beauty pageants for girls:
- A fun activity, like any other extra curricular that a child might choose to participate in?
- Cringe-worthy, but not something we should be legislating?
- Damaging to children and should be banned by law, with appropriate enforcement mechanisms in place?