Around 89% of girls who watch beauty pageants want to be thinner. 57% are on diets, and 27% have or have had some type of eating disorder. Some people feel that beauty pageants cause more harm than good. Despite these feelings, the frequency of beauty pageants has increased over the years, as has negative body image with the idea that beauty as being only skin deep. Girls must be able to look past appearance and know that beauty comes from within. Contestants in the competition believe that pageants can build self-confidence in women; however, beauty pageants push ordinary girls into believing that true beauty is solely based on appearance and lead to unrealistic standards.
Of the countless negative aspects in beauty pageants, the unrealistic standard they set for women is perhaps the worst. The average woman who participates in a beauty pageant is underweight with a mere 20.8% body mass and wears everything from false eyelashes to fake teeth. These beauty standards are not healthy nor normal. When women are praised for superficial reasons, it can make them feel that they need to change their own appearances, because they are inadequate. Insecurity and low self-esteem can lead to different eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia along with physical alterations like cosmetic surgery. These drastic consequences often stem from the negative body image that women develop due to unrealistic beauty standards in the world of pageantry.
In addition, beauty pageants teach girls that beauty is only skin deep. Supporters claim that they are not only about appearances, as candidates are expected to participate in the community, be well educated, and represent the pageant as a respectful woman. But the reality is that, ultimately, the most beautiful women are still considered superior, whether or not this is the intention. These so called “respectful” pageants still have women parade around in excessive makeup, wear beautiful dresses, and put on a fake smile, making everyone around them believe in their facade of perfection. This superficial practice is not sending girls the right message of how a strong woman should be represented. A strong woman is comfortable and confident in her own skin and knows that her true beauty and strength lie within which contradicts the basic ideals of a beauty pageant.
In contrast, some believe that pageants can build self-confidence in women and girls. They believe that walking down the runway in a pretty dress, lots of makeup and a fake smile will make a girl feel proud and beautiful; however, the negative effects on girls outside of the pageant are much greater than the positive effect on the few girls in it. Many harmful physical and mental effects can be brought upon an ordinary girl which are hard to reverse. Dressing a girl up and changing what she truly looks like will not boost her confidence. Instead, it will show her that her natural look is not enough, and she needs makeup and dresses to be beautiful. These things can impact a girl’s life much more heavily than a beauty pageant can positively influence a contestant’s life.
All in all, pageants can lead girls to believe that beauty is only skin deep and can create unrealistic expectations in the process. Women often develop negative body images in acknowledging the praise peer’s receive for what seems to be their physical features alone. Because of the ill effects they have on young girls, beauty pageants should be eradicated to avoid numerous issues surrounding poor self-esteem and body image. This eradication may not comprehensively solve the issue, but it will take important steps towards change.