And here I thought using double sided tape to keep my swimsuit from riding up my derriere was the pageant world's dirty little secret. Wow, have things changed!
Recently Kerry Campbell admitted in a network television interview that she injected her 8-year-old daughter Britney with Botox to make her look more beautiful for beauty pageants. She said she wasn't the only mother doing it.
It is a different world, maybe an alternate universe. It has to be. Tragically, by this account.
Injecting an 8-year-old with Botox to make her more competitive in pageants for pint size beauties, might as well be the same as subjecting her to actual plastic surgery. The shock value is the same. It's like a 7.0 earthquake of a jolt. Somebody shake this mother and rattle some sense into her. This should not happen!
Being the veteran of several pageants, I feel I'm in a good position to criticize. Let me say it again… This Should Not Happen!
My highest profile pageant experience was the 1985 Miss America Pageant, competing as Miss Minnesota. Entering pageants was a decision I made for myself as an adult. My mother not only did not encourage me to participate, she even secretly hoped I wouldn't. But what daughter ever listens to her what her mother wants or demands?
Well, 8-year-olds do.
And that's why parenting is such an important and crucial job. What children learn about who they are, and their self worth is first and foremost ingested during childhood from their primary caregivers... parents.
What I learned as an 8-year-old from my very protective and loving mother and father was that I was perfect the way I was: dirty face, raggedy nails, wild hair.
I played outdoors all the time, discovered nature in the back yard, and learned that cats run after squirrels up trees and many times get stuck.
I also learned that if the cat falls from said tree, he lands on his feet... all the time. It's a good lesson to learn. It stuck with me. Chasing after dreams is okay as long as it’s your dream.
But what is an 8-year-old learning from her mother when she's told that the only way she can win is to change who she is, to alter her physical appearance?
If you've ever watched the reality show "Toddlers and Tiaras" you'll see sometimes crazed moms inflicting all sorts of beauty regimens on their little girls -- who many times seem like they'd rather be playing in the backyard. Any backyard.
They use something called "flippers," false teeth that hide missing baby teeth; hair pieces, spray tans, French manicures, heavy face and eye make-up, and to top it all off they wear costumes that can run into the thousands of dollars. It’s all to make little girls seem not so much like little girls.
I have defended my involvement in pageants to many a feminist attack. Whether you like pageants or not, it’s a choice that big girls make fully conscious of their decision. They are fully able to handle the sometimes painful growing experiences that not winning a contest can bring.
Childhood experiences have great impact because the child’s brain is still forming. The young, malleable gray matter incorporates events bad or good into its lexicon, to later become part of the adult’s default mode reactions to a hostile world. The Bible illustrates this in its wisdom book, Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: even when he is old he will not depart from it." (ESV)
The opposite of course is also true. Train up a child in the way he should not go, and even when he is old he will not depart from that either.
Millions, if not billions of dollars has been spent by adults on psychotherapy to undo the ravages of a dysfunctional childhood that later manifested itself in big people issues.
No parent is perfect. No child is perfect. But every child has the right to be loved just the way she is. Only after she learns that lesson can pageants have the greatest benefit.
What I learned during those competitions only strengthened what I learned as a child, which was, that I was valued and loved for who I was, wild hair and all… And also… to land on my feet. Everything else was just icing on the cake.
Lauren Green was named Miss Minnesota in 1984 and was the third runner-up in the 1985 Miss America contest. She is currently religion correspondent for Fox News Channel.