Sunday, 1 November 2009

Angels and demons

They say love is blind. And no love is more blind than that of a parent. To everyone else, your baby may resemble a lump of blotchy meatloaf in a cute bonnet, but to you it's pure unexpurgated beauty. Unless of course you happen to be the parent of a pre-teen pageant princess.

Every year, over 100,000 under-twelves participate in what's now a billion-dollar industry. They're all coached, trained, primped and sprayed until they look like the midget hooker in Total Recall. According to new book 'High Glitz', these pint-sized perfectionists represent modern America's "values of beauty, glamour and celebrity".

Their parents, who would think nothing of using a cattle prod as a motivational aid (as well as a handy hair-crimper), won't settle for anything less than perfection. And as a consequence, an even creepier trend seems to have emerged, as children as young as two are put under the airbrush, with some truly horrifying consequences.

Giving us an uncanny glimpse into a world where human taxidermy is commonplace (hang in there Joan Rivers, your time will come), these glassy-eyed, matte-finished monsters manage to make Chucky look sympathetically human. 

Lips are plumped, eyes are lifted and teeth are straightened, even though some of the photographic subjects are too young to actually have teeth. And all of them have the same dead-eyed stare that made the characters in The Polar Express look like they'd shuffled in from one of George Romero's zombie epics.

The world of child pageantry has always been dogged with controversy, particularly concerning the early sexualisation of children and the impact of beauty contests on young people's self-image. These pictures, showing how parents wish their children looked rather than the reality, can only make a bad situation worse. 


  1. I love my children the way they are - they are all beautful. These parents seems to be striving for something completely unobtainable. Are they telling their children: "You would be beautiful if you had a straighter nose/better eyes/different colour hair?" It seems like child abuse to me - do these kids get a choice? Our eldest has a tee shirt which reads: Love Who You Are. Perhaps we should make some copies and send them out to the States?