It's been a special couple of days for the less-than-wonderful world of overt child hypersexualization. Oh, and kiddie beauty pageants (those foul hotbeds of fake tans, bouffants, and "flippers").
First: Remember JonBenet Ramsey? The 6-year-old beauty queen who was found murdered in her Boulder, Colo., home in 1996, with no charges ever filed or perps ever brought to justice? Well, it's been revealed that back in '99, the grand jury secretly voted to indict JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, on charges of child abuse resulting in the girl's death. But the case was never prosecuted, and now a lawsuit's been filed seeking the release of the indictment documents.
Of course, any child murder is disturbing, but the beauty-pageant angle of JonBenet's story just seemed to add an extra layer of creepy filth to an already horrific situation. Did her death have anything to do with her participation in pageants? Who knows; probably not. Still, I remember how her pictures gutted me when I first saw them -- it was so, so sad to see such a young girl posed, primped, and staged to look so purposefully ADULT, so womanly. And not just womanly, but knowingly, performatively ... attractive. I hope one day her killers are brought to justice, though at this point it seems doubtful, considering how old the case has gotten.
Moving on to better news (but still in keeping with today's kid pageant theme): On Wednesday, France's Senate awesomely voted to approve a ban on beauty pageants for kids under age sixteen. (America, we might want to take note, because what are we waiting for, Honey Boo-Boo to start using wrinkle cream? "Toddlers and Tiaras" to get snarked off the air? Neither will be happening for a long-ass time if we keep shelling out our savings to pit girls against each other in pint-size living-Barbie competitions.) France's ban was passed as an amendment to a bigger bill aimed at fighting the "hypersexualization" of children; the measure now moves to the lower house for discussion and voting.
What motivated the measure's kickass-sounding creator and advocate, Chantal Jouanno? As Jouanno, a former junior minister for environment and a senator representing Paris, explained to the New York Times, "It is extremely destructive for a girl between the age of 6 and 12 to hear her mother say that what’s important for her is to be beautiful…What counts is what they have in their brains.”
In 2011, Jouanno compiled a report, commissioned by the French health minister, that focused on the sexification of young girls. She did the report in response to a big public brouhaha over a Paris Vogue photo spread that depicted underage girls in sexy clothes and postures (wearing high heels and makeup to boot). Though France has its share of pageants, the scene there is nowhere near as intense as it is here. Still, it's a firm step in the right direction, IMO, to reduce girls' exposure to that crap as early as possible. If they want to be pageant queens when they're all grown up, fine; more power to them. But when it comes to kids, pageants just feel so exploitative and wrong.
Another thing that feels overwhelmingly, disgustingly wrong on EVERY POSSIBLE FEASIBLE CONCEIVABLE LEVEL: these grossly sexual baby onesies -- the target of a new petition on Change.org. The onesies, made by a company called It'Sugar, feature inspirational, positive messages, like "Hung like a preschooler" and "Does this diaper make my butt look big?”
How sweet; let's start fostering insecurity and overall dysfunction as early as humanly possible! Because ... funny? Sorry, but it's gross and completely unfunny, and though I don't have kids, I'll certainly be signing that petition right about now (because who thinks it's NBD to think about penis size when looking at an infant?).
What do you think of beauty pageants and the overall sexualization of kids nowadays? Are you creeped out too?
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