The Current

France bans child beauty pageants for sexualizing girls

Forget about the tiara for parents in France, beauty contests for little girls could get them two years in prison and fines of around $40,000. France is pushing to ban beauty competitions but critics say it's not the pageants - it's the parents....
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Forget about the tiara for parents in France, beauty contests for little girls could get them two years in prison and fines of around $40,000. France is pushing to ban beauty competitions but critics say it's not the pageants - it's the parents.



Any hopes Honey Boo Boo may have had for a youthful modeling career in Paris are likely over

beauty-pageant-200px-short.jpg

Seven year old beauty pageant regular
Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

It's far too late for the French government to roll the clock back and hope its youngest citizens will enjoy parasols and promenades along the Seine. But it does hope to protect them from the pressures and pounding rhythms of the kind of child beauty competitions portrayed in Toddlers and Tiaras and The Tyra Banks Show.

This week, lawmakers heard a report entitled Against Hyper-Sexualisation: A New Fight For Equality. It calls for a ban on beauty competitions for children. Chantal Jouanno is the French Senator who authored the report. Here she is speaking on CBC Radio's Q last year:

More and more parents want to have this kind of beauty pageants, want to see their children make up, and this is really a new phenomenon in France, so, that's why we wanted to ban them -- because, you can have some rules, to say that during these beauty pageants children shouldn't be make up, or shouldn't wear inappropriate dress, but, in any case, it's infringing the principle of dignity of the human person. Our duty, as a government, is to ban things which are contrary to equality, which are contrary to the dignity, and which are contrary to the high interest of the childrenFrench Senator, Chantal Jouanno

The Senate has passed the bill. Next, it must be adopted by France's National Assembly. But the debate over child pageants is ongoing beyond France's borders.

  • Karen Kataline is a former child beauty pageant contestant and now a social worker. She is the author of Fatlash! Food Police and the Fear of Thin. She feels banning child beauty contests is not the solution. The problem is with parents' behaviour and that's not addressed by the ban in France. Karen Kataline was in Miles City, Montana.

  • Martina M. Cartwright is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona. She studies child beauty pageants and supports the ban on child beauty pageants in France. She feels they sexualize girls at a very young age and fosters body image problems. Martina M. Cartwright was in Phoenix, Arizona.

  • Liz McKinnon is the Founder and Director of National Canadian Girl Pageant. She thinks pageants are a great way to instill self-esteem and that the contests are more than just beauty but about confidence, personality and interacting with the audience. Liz McKinnon was in Langley, B.C.

Should child beauty pageants be banned? What are your thoughts?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien, Shannon Higgins, Peter Mitton and Sujata Berry.

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