Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Calls to axe child beauty pageant

Children don high heel shoes during beauty pageant contests

Calls have been made for a controversial child beauty pageant due to take place in Dublin to be cancelled.

Senator Jillian van Turnhout said such events - which see young girls and toddlers compete in high heels and make-up - force children into "roles of seduction".

"This is about protecting childhood," Ms van Turnhout said.

"Beauty pageants really prematurely force children into roles of seduction that really harm their development."

The children's rights activist welcomed moves from the French parliament to ban beauty pageants for children under 16.

Anyone found entering a child into a pageant could face up to two years in prison and 30,000 euro in fines under the new laws.

Ms van Turnhout commended the French government and called for a ban in Ireland.

"I'm really disappointed to note that in Ireland this weekend for the first time there will be a beauty pageant," she said.

"It is not a welcome development and I would like to send a clear message that it should be cancelled, and we should not be having these types of beauty pageants in our country.

"We should be protecting childhood."

Texas-based Universal Royalty will host an event at a Dublin hotel on Saturday.

The company, which was founded by Annette Hill in 1995, claims the pageants are intended to be a positive learning experience for children, "to learn competition, positive self confidence and striving to be the very best".

Critics of child beauty pageants have claimed they promote the early sexualisation of children.

Welcoming the developments in France, the ISPCC said youngsters are portrayed as "mini-adults" in the pageants, and thrust into a world in which self-worth depends on attractiveness.

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