The cost of the crown

Castleton State College student Nydelis Ortiz was recently crowned Miss Vermont. Ortiz, unlike most pageant girls who begin competing at a relatively young age, entered her first beauty pageant at age 14.It had been one of her dreams to win the pageant ever since.

Following the competition, Ortiz has received a substantial amount of support and recognition from the school, appearing at half-time of a home football game and on the front page of The Spartan.

Now, not by no means is this intended to discredit girls like Ortiz, who have worked hard their whole lives to not only win beauty pageants, but to be successful in all aspects of their lives. It is not the girls like Oritz who make beauty pageants so controversial, it’s the younger girls, the ones who are both impacted and tainted by this million dollar industry.

For those of you who have never seen the film ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ met a “pageant girl” or seen shows such as ‘Little Miss Perfect,’ or ‘Toddlers and Tiarras’ it is essential to discuss the requirements and obligations these girls must meet and maintain in order to fit into this dream world.

Pageant entry fees can run from $25 to more than $500.Yes, up to $500 spent just to get into the pageant. And this is just the beginning

Jamie Swenson, who was Miss South Dakota USA ’97 and a three-time Miss Hawaiian Tropic, said that some of the ‘State Miss’ pageant parents can spent up to $100,000 on one girl.

Evidently (and all quite necessary, of course) the money goes toward things such as “wardrobe consultants, physical fitness trainers, speech and voice coaches, etiquette lessons, salon services, talent coaches, resume writing, tanning, evening gowns, rehearsal attire, bathing suits, interview suits and talent costumes.

Well gee, it must be nice to have $100,000 to just throw away on a speaking coach or for resume writing. But let’s be realistic, what average 10-year-old girl has $100,000?

Not many.

Then the question is, who is willing to spend these thousands of dollars for their child to walk across a stage in front hundreds of people in such revealing outfits?

Unfortunately these “pageant” girls are generally trapped from the beginning. That is, as soon as their parents decide that they should start competing, and this is often quite early in life.

In fact, the youngest competitors for the Miss World pageant can be found in the “baby petite” category, which allows girls from ages 0-2 to compete.

These girls, babies in fact, are being subjected to the negative stereotypes of beauty and materialism straight from the womb. Instead of playing outside or with toys that, you know, allow them to create beauty with their own imagination, they are being dressed up and instructed on what beauty is by their crazy, over-obsessed mothers.

And in most cases, these girls do not have the opportunity to escape this lifestyle.

But maybe, just maybe, these pageants are not as detrimental as they seem. Maybe beyond the hardened hair styles and evening gowns there is something more to these girls. Maybe they are taking away something more than the perfect technique to apply make-up.

According to many mothers, pageants can be a very positive experience for the kids if done correctly, asserting that they are a great social experience.

Our own Miss Vermont even said that “it’s really a great way for young women to gain confidence, interview skills, and help them attain jobs in the future.” And based on the description in the article about Miss Ortiz, she has turned out not only normal but also pretty well adjusted. She graduated high school early and will graduate college early too – with two degrees.

But for the rest of those little girls, the ones who are sitting in salons and dressing rooms for their entire childhood . well, it’s sad really.

Until their parent’s realize that the environment their daughters are growing up is not the real world but a fake, glitzy environment, than we will continue to stress and promote that these girls are being judged by how they hold their heads — and not what is in their heads.

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