Other possible arguments in favor of the pageants could include that they are a chance for women to earn scholarships for more education, and that not all pageants objectify women, as some emphasize talent and public speaking more than appearance. (These are the exception, of course)
An argument against is that these pageants have not only created unrealistic expectations of beauty among young women, contributing to eating disorders and self esteem issues, but it has led to the creation of an entire system of pageants for the very young, even 5 and 6 year olds, who one could argue get little benefit from such a program.
The answer to this question really depends on the side that you want to take, pro (for) or con (against).
If your paper is defending the value and worth of beauty pageants, you may want to use something like:
"Beauty pageants provide an opportunity for women to display a broad array of talents and abilities."
If, however, you are writing against beauty pageants, your thesis may be:
"Beauty pageants objectify women as nothing more than eye candy, existing for the sole purpose of male sexual fulfillment and gratification."
Hopefully these two sides will help you to get started successfully on your paper.
You won't find many editors, myself included, who support them. They are fairly shallow spectacles that breed stereotypes regarding beauty.
You might want to use a quote. Beauty starlet Candace Bergen, herself the shallow antagonist in the Sandra Bullock movie Miss Congeniality, says:
People see you as an object, not as a person, and they project a set of expectations onto you. People who don't have it think beauty is a blessing, but actually it sets you apart.
Hellen Keller says:
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched ... but are felt in the heart."
Aristotle might support them:
Personal beauty is a greater recommendation than any letter of reference.
Jean Kerr takes a humorous approach:
I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas?
And Sophia Loren, perhaps the most coveted woman of her day, says:
Sex appeal is fifty percent what you've got and fifty percent what people think you've got.
Your thesis statement will certainly depend on what it is that you want to say about beauty pageants. If I were writing such a paper, my thesis statement would probably be:
Beauty pageants are bad for society because they promote unhealthy attitudes towards women. Specifically, they encourage men to think of women simply as display objects rather than as real people.
However, if I had to write in favor of pageants I would say something like
Beauty pageants are good for women and for society. They give women a chance to show excellence in a variety of ways that range from fitness to mental ability.
I hope one of those will be helpful. Good luck!
It's a free country, and if people want to hold beauty pageants and women want to participate in them, I think they should be allowed to do so. If people want to attend them as spectators, they ought to be allowed to attend, and if they don't like them they don't have to go.
I would like to point out that there are plenty of pageants in which male muscle-builders show off their bodies. So it isn't just women who are being treated as objects and possibly as bad role models. If we consider banning female beauty pageants, shouldn't we also consider banning the male muscle-builder contests?
As far as beauty pageants for little girls are concerned, that seems like a special case. It seems like a bad idea to encourage little girls to act like adult sex objects, but I'm not at all sure I would like to see the government pass laws against these pageants. I would assume that there are already some laws protecting children against exploitation.