When you think about boys in beauty pageants, what comes to mind? Is it gender equality? Promoting femininity in boys? Entering boys in a traditionally female activity, like the opposite of a little girl playing football? Whatever your opinion, one thing’s for sure: you probably do have an opinion, whether you want to admit it or not.
On one side of the coin, there’s the argument that boys should be in beauty pageants. Why shouldn’t they have the opportunity that their female counterparts have to charm audiences and win large sums of cash? What does that say about gender equality? And, boys are significantly more clothed than girls during beauty pageants. Not to mention, boys age out of pageants so being involved has less chance of being a lifelong obession.
It’s easy to take an opposing view as well: beauty pageants aren’t appropriate for boys. This may tie into the fact that beauty pageants may not be appropriate for children at all, considering the massive amounts of makeup and practice that they require. Where’s the time for fun when you’re being forced to practice all day? Not to mention the social implications. According to FamilyEducation.com, “The long-standing and current overwhelming opinion in the psychology community concerning children’s beauty pageants is that they are not in the best interests of healthy child development.” While this is true of girls in pageants, it is probably escalated even further for boys in pageants. (Source: http://life.familyeducation.com/emotional-development/girls-self-esteem/41305.html)
Part of the beauty pageant issue may boil down to intention. One episode of Toddlers & Tiaras on TLC features a mother who entered her boys in beauty pageants because she wanted girls as children, but had boys instead. Another mother uses pageants to teach her son about self esteem and fully respects her other son’s desire to have nothing to do with pageants. If a boy child truly wants to be in pageants, it seems less sinister than forcing a sports loving, pageant hating boy to go onstage and smile at the judges.
On a personal note, a male family friend was entered into a beauty pageant as a child. He won his division, and was taken to the next level of pageantry. His mother took one look at the madness and one listen to all of the cattiness that she picked up her son and walked out. She didn’t even care that money was invested; nor did she care to find out if he won.