Parents vs. Self-esteem

Society has put a standard on girls to look a certain way in order to be accepted in society. Modern television shows demonstrate these unrealistic standards as well. These shows attempt to illustrate to its audience what people are looking for in order to be considered beautiful. The television show called




Toddlers and Tiaras is a great example of how this being done.  This is a show about young girls in beauty pageants. It describes all that these girls have to go through in order to be considered the most beautiful and win the pageant. Parents who place their children in beauty pageants at a young age unfortunately increase the chances that their child will develop a negative self-image. Events that defines and encourages a “perfectly” shaped woman to little girls, like in beauty pageants, causes these girls to develop personal objectives and aspirations that lead to an unrealistic view of the world.  Beauty pageants bring in girls as young as toddlers, and in some cases, even babies. At this young age the child is absorbing and assimilating unrealistic norms. These contests create unhealthy norms for highly impressionable kids. The pageants are based primarily on physical appearance which support unrealistic goals. Young women are driven to set unattainable standards which are only achievable through harmful dieting and wearing promiscuous clothing. In many cases, this leads to an unhealthy future for these young people, especially if they are genetically unable to be that “thin ideal” girl. In Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, we see young Pecola’s obsession with having blue eyes in order to be seen as beautiful. This exemplifies the fact that societal standards of beauty can have detrimental effects on children, and especially young girls. Girls at such a young age are being forced to be conscious of what they need to look like to keep the standard of society. This is also shown in the Keywords essay titled “Body”.  They acknowledge the fact that early in a child’s life they are are forced to become aware of self body image. They are forced to live up to an unhealthy standard that most girls cannot live up to.

Self esteem and self confidence is very fragile especially for young girls. Dove has produced many videos addressing this important issue. One Dove video in particular stood out to me. During the short clip, women were asked to choose whether they perceived themselves as either beautiful and average. These women were asked to make their choice and walk through a door with a sign above indicating the beautiful women door versus the average women door. This was an extremely difficult choice for most women to make. Society had put this standard on people all over the world that being beautiful means only one thing and if you don’t meet the criteria of what society thinks is beautiful you are just average. The specific scene that stood out to me in this video is when a woman and her daughter were walking by and they were asked to choose which door they would go through. The clip showed the mother pulled her daughter to walk through the door labeled beautiful.

Beauty pageants exemplify the exact opposite message from this Dove video.  Parents who place their daughters in beauty contests actually forcing their daughter to think about their flaws instead of their beauty. Parents of the contest participants are critical of their child instead of being supportive. The message this sends to a young impressionable girl is extremely negative and very dangerous. These young people are encouraged to go to extremes to be beautiful. In today’s society it is important parents provide support for their children instead of pointing out their child’s flaws. Our parents and the people who raise us make the biggest difference in our lives therefore, letting everyone feel good about being different is the most beautiful thing one can do for their child.

4 thoughts on “Parents vs. Self-esteem”

  1. Haley, I find this blog post very insightful and well thought out. I couldn’t agree more that these poor girls are being exposed to terrible standards at such a young age. How do you think this show can be fixed? Can it be fixed? I wonder what the director’s mission is in creating this show. I find this show similar but also remarkably different (in purpose) from the American reality show The Biggest Loser. It takes individuals who are morbidly obese and entices them to lose weight with motivation and awards. How does this show relate to toddlers and tiaras?

  2. I think this is a great discussion on the impact that parents can have on their children. Parents need to be more informed on the role that they play in their daughter’s life encouraging self esteem and confidence. With so many negative voices from society, it’s important to begin encouraging girls to be themselves instead of placing them in pageants that begin these negative and discouraging practices and thoughts at such a young age.

  3. I’ve seen that Dove ad before- and it is so powerful. There have been several studies done that find that girls have their lowest self-esteem when they are 8-15, which is a sad statistic. This is also when pageant girls begin their careers, which further reinforces to them that they, in their natural state are not pretty enough. Moreover, what message to young girls are we sending when we claim that a 10 year old, caked in makeup and extravagant dresses is he “most beautiful”? I personally think child beauty pageants should be banned, due to the pressure they put on young girls.

  4. This is a very awesome blog post. I especially liked the point you made at the end about the message that parents are sending their children. This reminds me of a video I saw recently about weather or not mothers put their children in pageants in an effort to relive their childhood the way they wished they could have. It said that they want their children to be beautiful to mask their own insecurities.

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