Mini Miss Committee/AP Photo
For every fan of Toddlers & Tiaras or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, there's someone who worries about the negative effects of child beauty pageants on the young girls who enter them. France's senate has cast its lot with the second group, the AP reports.
Yesterday evening, the country's upper house voted 196 to 146 to ban pageants for contestants under the age of 16. The penalty for anyone who enters a child or "encourages or tolerates children’s access to these competitions” is up to two years in prison and just over $40,000.
“The foundations of equal rights are threatened by the hyper-sexualization that touches children ... between 6 and 12 years old,” Chantal Jouanno, a French Senator who co-wrote the law, told the AP. "At this age, you need to concentrate on acquiring knowledge. Yet with mini-Miss competitions and other demonstrations, we are fixing the projectors on their physical appearance."
The ban, an amendment on an existing women's rights law, still needs to be passed by the country's lower house, the National Assembly, before it becomes law.
Such pageants are not as common in France as they are in the U.S., where they have been widely criticized for pushing young girls to dress and act like women three or four times their age. Programs like Toddlers & Tiaras document so-called "High Glitz" pageants, which feature professional makeup artists and hair stylists, and can cost hundreds of dollars to enter (one study put the total cost of a single high-glitz pageant at $3,000 to $5,000).
Parents of children in pageants, on the other hand, sometimes counter that the events help teach their children poise and self-confidence. Back in 2009, NBC's Today gathered a panel of pageant parents, and the reasons they gave for entering their kids included giving them "exposure as far as public speaking" and "enhancing their beauty."