• France's news in English

'Child beauty contests can help girls in later life'

Ben McPartland · 20 Sep 2013, 15:04

Published: 20 Sep 2013 15:04 GMT+02:00

On Tuesday senators in France voted to ban children's beauty contests to prevent the "hyper-sexualisation" of kids, promising tough sanctions for those who break the law, including a two-year prison sentence.

“Let’s not let our daughters think from such a young age that they will be judged according to their appearance. Let’s not let commercial interest impact on social interest,” Senator Chantal Jouanno told the Senate.

The ban, which needs to be backed by National Assembly deputies later in the Autumn before becoming law, was warmly received and has even had an impact over the Atlantic, where the public in the US, considered the home of kids' beauty pageants, are now mulling the merits of a similar ban.

But the Senate's vote has not been well received everywhere, not least by Michel le Parmentier, organizer of the annual "Mini-Miss" pageant in Paris. Here he tells The Local why his contests are light years away from the "barbie doll" beauty pageants in the US and how dressing up like a princess can help girls in later life.

Le Parmentier: “You can’t compare the kind of child beauty contests that take place in the US with those in France. In the US it’s all about looking sexy. They are dressed up in high heels, given false wigs, fake tan, fake teeth and transformed into Barbie dolls. That might be good for them but we don’t want that in France. Their parents push them into it because there is money at stake for the winners. That’s terrible.

“In the French 'Mini-Miss' pageants, the young girls don’t wear swim suits or high heels, make up and so on. 

“This is not Miss Universe where the women are in bikinis and they show their bodies and their chests. There’s no hyper-sexualisation in the 'Mini-Miss' contests. It’s all a bit of fun.

"I invented this concept of 'Mini-Miss' in France over 20 years ago and until recently there were no problems what so ever. But then came the broadcast of an American beauty contest on NT1 channel called 'Mini-Miss - who will be the most beautiful' (Qui sera la plus belle?).

"It showed the little girls in high heels, covered in make-up, wearing swim suits etc and everything changed in France. We tried to persuade broadcast authorities to ban the screening of the programme in France but with the Internet people were still able to watch it. It shocked people and that is why the senators made this amendment this week.

(Screengrab from NT1's "Mini Miss - qui sera le plus belle?")

"'Mini-Miss' can help them in later life"

“For us it is not about trying to transform a girl into a woman. It is just about dressing up as a princess. They are judged on the dress and on their attitude and personality. The winner will be the cutest, the one who smiles etc and isn’t grumpy.

“I have discussed this issue with Chantal Jouanno, the senator who proposed the ban. She does not want girls to be judged on their appearance at such a young age but that’s not what we do. 'Mini-Miss' is not about saying one is more beautiful than the other. It's about educating them to be well dressed, polite and positive in their own skin. It helps them in later life.

"Two years in prison is too strong. Mums of 'Mini-Miss' contestants are in uproar and their daughters are crying because they won’t be able to dress up like princesses. They plan to protest to the deputies in the National Assembly to lift the ban.

The choice is for parents to make, not the state

“It’s not up to the state to choose whether these contests take place it's up to the child and the parent as to whether they enter. If parents don’t want their daughters to like dressing up like princesses then they have to educate them how they want.

“Stopping hyper-sexualisation of children is up to parents not up to us. They can’t allow their daughters to go out into the street dressed up in mini-skirts etc because they will get attention from some bad people.

“Obviously there are some child beauty contests being held in France that we have no control over and they do make the children wear swim wear and so on but that's why we are calling for regulation, not a complete ban."

Do you agree with Le Parmentier? Let us know in the comments section below.

Don't want to miss a story about France? - Then join The Local France on Facebook and Twitter.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Syrian refugees clean up dirty French streets
Syrian refugees clean up the streets of their neighbourhood in Beziers. Photo: screengrab BFM TV

Syrian refugees clean up dirty French streets

52 minutes ago

A group of Syrian refugees cleaned the streets of their neighbourhood in a southern French town to avoid being blamed for the rubbish, but the far-right mayor of the town slammed the move as propaganda by "squatters".

French TV's equality ad ends in sexism storm
"Where are all the women?" Equality video ends up in sexism storm. Photo: France 3.

French TV's equality ad ends in sexism storm

1 hour ago

A TV advert aimed at promoting the role of women at a French TV channel has been pulled after feminist groups and government ministers blasted it as sexist.

Video - 'Stop Jihadism'
French parents tell of losing their kids to jihad
French parents take part in campaign to dissaude youngsters from joingin jihad. Photo: Stop.jihadisme.gouv.fr

French parents tell of losing their kids to jihad

2 hours ago

A group of French parents, whose sons and daughters left home to fight jihad after converting to Islam, have spoken out about their suffering and constant anguish as part of a moving new government TV campaign.

Air France identifies 20 'thugs' behind mauling
Air France's Pierre Plissonnier clambers over a fence to safety. Photo: AFP

Air France identifies 20 'thugs' behind mauling

4 hours ago

Air France has identified 20 "thugs" they believe were behind the attack on two executives on Monday as the company is forced to deny it has plans to cut a further 5,000 jobs.

French mags pay over Gayet-Hollande photos
François Hollande and Julie Gayet who is desperate to stay out of the limelight. Photo: AFP

French mags pay over Gayet-Hollande photos

5 hours ago

Two French magazines have fallen foul of France's strict privacy laws after publishing photos of the President François Hollande and his actress girlfriend Julie Gayet during a short holiday together.

French bakers fined for opening too often
Photo: AFP

French bakers fined for opening too often

21 hours ago

Four French bakers in the south west have fallen foul of France’s strict laws on opening times by selling their baguettes every day of the week. They say they will now have to lay off staff.

French town evacuated over 'Made in Syria' soap
The parcels in question contained soap made in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Photo: Bernard Gagnon

French town evacuated over 'Made in Syria' soap

21 hours ago

In what could have been a scene from a Hollywood film, a French village went into lockdown on Tuesday after several parcels marked 'Made in Syria' were found in a house being renovated. But not everything was at it seemed.

France to strip five 'terrorists' of nationality

France to strip five 'terrorists' of nationality

21 hours ago

France is to withdraw the French nationality from five "terrorists" the government announced on Tuesday as it continues to crackdown on homegrown jihadists.

Topless pic sees French beauty queen dethroned
Eugénie Journée is a second year law student. Image: rmnfm/youtube

Topless pic sees French beauty queen dethroned

22 hours ago

Rules are rules, when it comes to beauty pageants. The newly-crowned Miss Brittany has been stripped of her title and the chance to be Miss France 2015 after she posted a topless fashion snap on her Facebook page.

When angry French workers target their bosses
Maurice Petit, an exec from American company Caterpillar is lead away by workers in 2009. Photo: AFP

When angry French workers target their bosses

1 day ago

The stripping of Air France chiefs this week is not the only time French workers have taken extreme action against their bosses in a drastic bid to save jobs. Here's a look at five other incidents that could really only happen in France.

What's on in France: Ten great things to do in October
French car makes it from Paris to Bordeaux... without a driver
This pic was enough to see a French beauty queen stripped of her crown
Analysis & Opinion
Opinion: Tearing suits of Air France execs isn't great for France's image
Opinion: France should follow UK and teach drivers not punish them
Paris: See how rundown Gare du Nord became one big disco
When angry French workers target their bosses (and it pays off)
French Riviera floods: Marineland park left under sea of mud
IN PICTURES: French Riviera ravaged by 'apocalyptic' floods
Looters arrested after deadly floods strike southern France
Eight top vegetarian restaurants in France
Indecent exposure: French cops drop trousers at British war memorial
Please France can we just have one emergency phone number
French study: Passive smoking likely to cause kids behavioural problems
Here are 12 reasons why it's worth staying in France
Locals shocked as Nazi banner unfurled in Nice
The secret to more travel for less
Burger King to swallow up Quick in France then take on 'McDo'
OPINION: France's jobless benefit system shouldn't be derided
A Day Without Cars: The ten Paris streets you just have to walk down
Revealed: The 12 new zones for late-night and Sunday shopping in Paris
Here's 12 reasons why France should feel good about itself in 2015
How life in France can both thrill and infuriate expats
jobs available