Little Miss Sunshine Goes to Washington

Don’t worry about our tanking economy and towering unemployment rate, as child beauty pageants are what threaten our nation the most, and so they must be regulated.

That is, at least according to a North Carolina Democratic Representative by the name of Annie Mobley, who recently introduced legislation HB1348 in order to “establish the joint legislative study committee on the regulation of beauty pageants for youth under 13 years of age.”

Rep. Mobley’s hope for the bill is that it will prevent any “physiological damage” young girls might retain from the pageants — because being obsessed with your appearance and dancing around in a skimpy bikini or frilly dress on stage at 6 years-old is definitely harmless as long as it’s given proper regulation.

If we take into account that less than 1 percent of our nation’s young girls participate in these makeup-choked catwalks and that the only families who foist them on their daughters are generally wealthy, then it’s easy to see why Mobley thinks it’s very important that these pageants are “regulated.” North Carolina may be in a budget crisis, but that won’t stop HB1348 from frivolously spending funds to study these things.

The committee dedicated to studying the pageants would be comprised of five House members and five Senate members. Among their six goals are collecting data on other states that regulate their beauty pageants, contracting an agency to do the regulating and coming up with rules and criteria for them.

So never mind the state’s 70 percent graduation rate. Turn your back on the $3 billion budget deficit. We need to focus on making child beauty pageants only slightly less detrimental on the development of young girls’ psyche. I say “only slightly less” because the eighth line on the bill’s second page states the intent to “regulate the use of makeup.” Uh-huh.

We have Mexico drowning in drug wars, Iran nearing its nuclear ambitions and somewhere in a North Carolina hotel ballroom, a U.S. government agent will be hired to tell a little girl dolled up to look like Beyoncé that she has too much lipstick on. And he’ll be getting paid for it.

Forget all the actual world problems for a moment. Forget our crumbling economy. Let’s pretend we live in a world where we actually have the time and money to throw it away on “regulating” events that only serve to prematurely rob little girls of their youth and innocence and make them obsessed about their appearance years before some would consider necessary because their mothers are living through them vicariously.

What’s the point?

What will this “regulation” do besides make it so that contestants can only wear two pounds of makeup instead of three? Show four inches of stomach instead of five? Make it so that the young contestants become anorexic at 18 instead of 17? These events wash out a young girl’s youth like Drain-O cleans out a sink pipe. Any mother who registers her daughter in such an event is basically saying, “I know my daughter has until she’s 14 to obsess about her weight and worry about her looks and be insecure, but I can’t wait that long. I think I’ll have her start now.”

Anybody who looks at this and thinks regulating it will make any significant impact besides wasting everyone’s time and money has a pitiful interpretation of how the world works. What is most confusing, though, is that this particular anybody is a woman, so one would hope she is someone who would understand what these pageants do to little girls more than any man.

In the world where we don’t have time and money to throw at child beauty pageants, there’s too many problems more pressing than just how much psychological damage a portion of North Carolina’s little girls will sustain. If any attention is to be given to these embodiments of gender expectations and stereotypes, it should be to shut them down and prevent them from forcing little girls to grow up a decade too soon.

AE Anteater is a third-year English major. He can be reached at emailremoved@uci.edu.