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If you want an example of a disadvantage of beauty pageants in young girls, all you have to do is watch "Toddlers and Tiaras". I mean really, most of those girls are brats, which is only going to get worse when they get older. No offense to anyone who likes the show.
There will be many responses to this. I would submit that one of the most powerful negative of a beauty contest would be that it judges beauty through external means. I realize that there are talent competitions and some type of question and answer in many settings, but the reality is that the cosmetic notion of beauty is a definitive one. The implications of this would be that girls, young ones in particular, learn that beauty is something external and one that can be judged and ruled upon through a certain set of criteria. This could have the potential to enhance poor self esteem and body self image problems in young girls. Given the precedent that this would set for young girls, I think that this would make beauty pageants quite negative.
The first answer does a good job of talking about the possible effects of pageants on contestants and young girls. Let me talk a bit about the possible impacts on society.
In a society where beauty contests are permitted and common, it seems likely that women will be less respected. These contests encourage men to judge women solely on their looks rather than on any more important characteristics. So, you can argue, having beauty contests encourages men to look down on women.
If you have a society where men look down on women, many negative things are likely to happen. This could include more widespread abuse of women.
There are several negative impacts of beauty contests. First and foremost, it teaches young girls that beauty lies solely in their appearance. They do not focus on inner beauty. People should not be judged on appearance.
Beauty pageants do have an impact on society. As these girls grow up, they may have low self esteems due to the fact that they were raised with the assumption that beauty is everything. As people age, their bodies change. People begin to put on weight, get wrinkles, etc. Many former beauty queens place their own daughters in to beauty pageants. It's a cycle.
Pageants most definitely have an effect on spiritual beauty. Spiritual beauty lies within. In order for a person to feel good about themselves as a whole, they need to feel confident and secure. Pageants in a sense provide insecurity as they teach that beauty is skin deep.
Beauty certainly cannot be judged on looks alone!
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