Children's beauty pageants have long been under the fire of criticism. Yet, the number of fans and, more importantly, small participants of this adult form of entertainment grows steadily. Tatiana Ogorodnikova, a psychologist, writer and founder of the family counseling center Pobrak explains in an interview with Pravda.Ru why she takes a tough stance on such non-childish events for children.
Tatiana Ogorodnikova: Ph.D. in psychology, writer, producer, founder of the family counseling center Probrak. Tatiana specializes on show business. She organizes festivals and shows with the participation of famous athletes and entertainers.
"You have recently spoken about the need to ban beauty pageants among children. Why do you think such events should be banned?"
"I can not stand to speak on this subject. I have three daughters, and none of them, even in a nightmare, can imagine that she would get into a beauty contest or the modeling business. My children are confident of their abilities and beauty. I believe that my position is correct. The purpose of each child is to be the best and most beautiful for their parents. A child does not have to walk on stage and prove something to men and women watching them. I do not understand why a mother feels the need to show everyone how talented her child is, what a beautiful child God created for her. What kind of mother is it, if she takes her child to the dump?"
"Do you want to warn these little girls about anything?"
"First of all, there are too many girls, who want to get into this business, but not all of them can become a star of the podium, as beauty contests promise. Someone needs to tell them what to expect, if they find themselves overboard the modeling business. I am an open person, and I say how it happens in reality."
"Many girls eye the career of Natalia Vodianova. Do you think that you can deprive anyone of their chance by what you say?"
"Vodianova is the only case, but I can give another example. For example, one of our models was killed in Cyprus not so long ago. Another one became a victim of an acid attack. This is how success goes. And I believe that if a mother takes her child deliberately to this, she is either a pervert, or a stupid woman, because exposing your child to such risks is insane.
"You bring your child to the business that is directly related to the criminal world, and one should not turn a blind eye to the fact that prostitution and the modeling business go together. There are very few girls, who do not do it only because they enjoy somebody's patronage."
"What are the criteria for selecting beauties? Who funds beauty contests for children, or do they earn on advertising?"
"As for criteria, there is a separate story for that. When I once read the program of a beauty contest, it seemed ridiculous to me. There's no clear position in it. One little doll is more beautiful than another one and that's it? The whole essence of this competition is no intellectual motive, no sports, physical effort.
"For example, ballerinas know classical music, they move beautifully. What can you say about a person who won the highest score with her silicone face? In an adult beauty contest, there are formal criteria among adult beauties "90-60-90", so you can come up to any of those girl and say, "You're the first today," and you'll be right, because they are all good. Adult participants of beauty pageants know the rules of the game. Yet, for young girls, when they do not get this sham crown, this is a real drama for them. If they lose, they get lost.
"Children's beauty pageants do not get televised, no one advertises there, so there is no legal income. There is an income: to teach those girls to shake their booty and then accommodate them in an escort service. I have a male friend, who offered a female gymnast to become a surrogate mother for his child, to which he was told: "I can not have a baby at the moment, because I have my career to make." Afterwards, that man offered the same to a woman from an escort service, and she delivered the child for him for money. For them, it is normal."
"How do these events influence a child?"
"First, they are still small, very silly and they try to copy adults. When a little girl tries to copy an adult woman and wag what she does not have, it looks like a silly parody. This can raise certain reactions with people sharing specific sexual interests. For a normal person, this all looks like an embarrassment."
"What is a real scale of the disaster?"
"Only ten-fifteen from one thousand can succeed in this business. In Russia, there are no millionaires among models, except, of course, those, who went abroad and became successful there, but one may count them easily. About 90 percent of girls from model agencies fall into escort services. More than a half of them start to work at age 13, and their parents accompany them on seldom occasions. Parents satisfy their vanity, so children remain completely unprotected.
"More than 80 percent of these models have admitted to have tried drugs. A third of them confessed that they had been forced to have sex with people, whom they encountered at work. They repeatedly experience sexual violence and harassment.
"The girls, who were lucky to get into the modeling business, usually live in appalling conditions, up to ten girls in one room. Anorexia becomes their usual diagnosis. Depression was also recognized an occupational disease of many models. Some young girls are constantly harassed, sexually harassed, despite the fact that their parents try to hide and protect them. In America, there is even a special website on the subject.
"People mostly talk about girls models, but we forget that they start to take boys to podiums as well. Thank God they do not hold beauty pageants for boys, but these ideas are already in the air.
"Finally, I want to quote Coco Chanel. She said: "If girls model could do something else, they would not be doing it for one hundred percent."
"Twiggy, a famous American model, once gave an interview, in which she said that if she had known from the beginning what was happening in the modeling business, she would have never gone there.
Therefore, I agree with those who have got to know the inside of so-called "festivals of beauty." I am convinced that if a mother could not convince her child from early childhood that she is her most beautiful and cherished child, it means that these contests have no right to exist.
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