France says boo to Boo Boo

You may have to say bye-bye to “Honey Boo Boo” and her beauty pageants in the near future.

The French Senate passed a ban on beauty pageants for children 16 and younger on Sept. 18. Parliament’s upper house voted 197-146 in favor of the amendment to the larger bill for gender equality. Now all that is needed is a pass from the French National Assembly for it to take effect.

Sparking discussion around the world, the attempt to ban child pageants has encouraged other countries to make similar efforts. Ireland released a statement Sept. 25 saying appeals will be made to support similar bans preventing the sexualizing of children.

This posed the question as to how the United States will respond.

Beauty pageants are much more prevalent in America than in other countries, especially now with hit reality TV shows such as “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”

Mary Pierce, a freshman child and family studies major at John Brown University, said the American culture has glorified pageants with too much attention. She said it has forced children to act older than they are and try to be something they are not.

“I think parents have placed a lot of pressure on their kids,” said Pierce. “This seems like it may be a good decision so that children have the chance to choose whether or not they want to be in pageants and not forced into them by their parents.”

Kevin Simpson is a professor of psychology at the University. He said this issue has a lot to do with child psychology and what kids need to develop successfully.

“Child beauty pageants are a bit of a problem. I have this vision of Little Miss Sunshine in my head and it just seems wrong,” said Simpson. “Sure we let our kids compete in sports, music, dance and cheer, but there’s a whole other thing there because when you see these little ones all dolled up—makeup, outfits that sexualize them—I think there are some big questions there.”

Senior psychology major Lexie Rouhselang watches the hit pageant shows on TLC regularly. Even though she finds them very entertaining, she had mixed feelings about the effects pageants on children.

“I just don’t agree with a lot of it because I feel like it’s a lot of parents living through their children more than giving their children experience,” Rouhselang said. “I think it really impacts your self-esteem and it could impact it in a positive way or a really detrimental way.”

Katie Barlett and Jennifer Mendenhall, both students at the University, are conducting their senior thesis on the effects of pageants on contestants.

“Research shows that child pageant contestants tend to struggle more with body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem later on in comparison to those who haven’t been in pageants,” Barlett said. “Similarly to sports, pageants can promote healthy competition, but the positive effects of pageant participation tend to show up in girls who win.”

No action has been taken by the U.S. to support the new ban in any way.

Simpson does not expect there to be any. He explained that France’s views differ greatly from those in America. Simpson said the American public would see such a ban as a limitation or infringement on the freedom that sets this country apart from others.