• France edition
 
Opinion - Beauty contests
'Child beauty contests can help girls in later life'
Child beauty contest: Mini Miss France competition 2012. Screengrab MissVideo.com

'Child beauty contests can help girls in later life'

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
Black Friday struggles to seduce French shoppers
Shoppers in France are more likely to stick to the usual sales for bargain hunts rather than go crazy for Black Friday. Photo: AFP

Black Friday struggles to seduce French shoppers

While some French retailers are hoping the US phenomenon "Black Friday" will seduce shoppers looking for bargains, the main question being asked in France was “What exactly is Black Friday?” READ  

Floods in south of France leave four dead
Rescuers search a flooded river for two missing people in the south of France. Photo: Bertrand Langlois/AFP

Floods in south of France leave four dead

Four people died and two other people were still missing on Friday after a heavy storm triggered flash flooding in southeastern France, the government said. Weather warnings were in place for some 14 departments in the region. READ  

US tycoon mocks France for being 'communist'
Maurice Taylor, chief executive of Titan International says France should become "Communist". Photo: AFP

US tycoon mocks France for being 'communist'

A US tyre tycoon on Friday ridiculed French laws and trade unions that he said had prevented him from investing in a stricken factory, saying France should become "communist". READ  

Paris: Protesters block 'racist' human zoo show
"No to human zoos" and "My body is not for sale", were just two of banners held up by protesters at Exhibit B show in Paris. Photo: Gilda Di Carli

Paris: Protesters block 'racist' human zoo show

A divisive art show featuring black actors in cages as a portrayal of 19th century "human zoos" had to be halted on Thursday after more than 120 angry protesters smashed their way into Paris theatre where it was being held. READ  

EU sets March deadline for France to fix budget
France has until March to implement further austerity measures, demanded by the EU.

EU sets March deadline for France to fix budget

The EU has given France a stay of execution after deciding to give it until March to fix its budget. Paris could still face fines however if it fails to implement further economic reforms. READ  

France -Israel
Lawyer attacked in Paris hit-and-run trial
Trial for the death of Lee Zeitouni halted in Paris after lawyer attacked. Photo: Jack Glez/AFP

Lawyer attacked in Paris hit-and-run trial

The Paris trial of two Frenchmen accused of killing a young Israeli woman in a hit-and-run road accident in Tel Aviv was halted Thursday after a defence lawyer was assaulted during a break in proceedings. READ  

Found in France: Ice age statuette of busty woman
About 12 centimetres (4.7 inches) high, it shows a woman with big breasts and buttocks. The head and arms are less detailed. Photo: AFP

Found in France: Ice age statuette of busty woman

A 23,000-year-old limestone statuette of a woman with big breasts and buttocks has been discovered in northern France in what archaeologists on Thursday described as an “exceptional” find. READ  

French MPs push for Palestine recognition
Photo: A woman holds a sign reading "Hollande Palestine will live, Palestine will win" during an anti-Israel demo. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

French MPs push for Palestine recognition

French lawmakers were to debate on Friday a motion urging the government to recognize Palestine as a state, amid growing European frustration at the moribund Middle East peace process. READ  

Ten things to do in France before Christmas
There's some great things to do in France before Christmas. Photo: AFP

Ten things to do in France before Christmas

With Christmas just round the corner, we've put together ten great festive and not-so-festive events happening around France in December to help you brave the cold and have a ball. READ  

More violent storms set for south of France
The south of France is set to be hit by more rough weather. Photo:AFP

More violent storms set for south of France

The south of France is set to be lashed by more extreme weather with some 12 departments placed on alert for floods on Thursday after violent storms and heavy rain were forecast. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
What's on: Ten things to do in France before Christmas
Sponsored Article
Win a €250 voucher for your Christmas list
Education
Is Paris really the best place in the world to be a student?
Society
The things gynecologists say that drive French women mad
Sponsored Article
Live like a local - anywhere in the world
National
A pill to make flatulence smell like roses? A Frenchman has cracked it
Culture
Rare 400-year-old Shakespeare work found in northern France
National
Paris air pollution: 'It's like being in a room with eight smokers'
National
From infidelity to sexual needs: How French women have changed in 30 years
National
Billboards to be replaced by trees - the bold move by one French city
Gallery
French government gives 10 reasons to be proud: No. 1 - The Economy
Politics
France's 'first ladies': A look back at the other halves
National
Would background music make the RER in Paris feel safer?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
National
Trierweiler to break her silence... in the UK
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Winter is coming to the French Alps
Gallery
Don't confuse France with Paris: Here's ten reasons why
National
From the homeless to migrants: A portrait of modern France in ten stats
Culture
Are you brainy enough to be Miss France? Take the quiz
Gallery
France's most notorious celebrities. How many do you know?
Society
City of Love? Seven Paris myths debunked
Education
Why is France worst in the EU at English?
National
C'est pas possible! Paris is 'world's cheapest city for young people'
National
Looking to save space? France allows toilets in kitchens for first time
National
Find out how women in France are getting stung for a hidden tax
Culture
Which one is your favourite? The top 10 heartiest French winter dishes
Face Of The Week
Nabilla - 'France's Kim Kardashian' held for attempted murder
National
So who's scaring everyone by flying drones over France’s nuclear plants?
Education
Whoever thinks French was a dying language should read this
Politics
OPINION: 'One day France will be grateful to François Hollande'
Gallery
IN IMAGES: A history of France's most controversial architecture
National
How to make an 8-square-metre Paris apartment perfectly liveable
Gallery
VIDEO: France's raunchiest TV ads, including that infamous Perrier one
National
Five reasons why you should work a ski season in France and five not to
National
10 art exhibitions not to miss this autumn in Paris
Culture
What's on in France: 11 things to do this November
National
How French have you become? Take our quiz to find out
National
10 things to never say to a French person
National
Top 10: When French translations go wrong
National
Parisian bars that serve drinkers free meals
National
France falls to Germans in nude swim tourney
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se