This week, as part of a larger bill focusing on gender equality, France’s upper house of Parliament voted to end beauty pageants for participants under the age of 16. The measure isn’t law yet; the lower house still needs to weigh in. If it passes, violators could spend up to two years in prison and pay US$40,000 in fines. Paris senator and measure proponent Chantal Jouanno, who wrote a report in response to a controversial photo display in Paris Vogue, says the purpose of the ban is “to say: What counts is what [young girls] have in their brains.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The pageants Jouanno and supporters are targeting aren’t nearly as extravagant as American versions such as those seen on the reality show “Toddlers and Tiaras.” Still, the outrage that followed the Paris Vogue spread, which showed young girls in “sexy clothes and postures…high heels, makeup and painted fingernails” prompted France’s health minister to commission the report. For her part, pageant organizer Maud Chevalier says the penalties are too severe: “[The proponents] think that children parade on a stage to look like a Barbie….In our contests, girls are princesses for a day, they make friends with others.”