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Department of Duh: Child Beauty Pageants Are About Parents Feeling Good, Not Kids

Child beauty pageants are pretty much everyone’s favorite form of low-grade, civil society approved child abuse, and with the baffling popularity of Honey Boo Boo firmly entrenched, we can expect the pageant scene to enter a renaissance soon. Don’t worry, though. A new study shows that parents, not children, get the most emotional benefit from the pageant scene. Which is convenient, because if you’re the sort of person who would enter your child into one of these things, chances are you also need external reasons to feel good about the person you are.

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The paper, published today in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, suggests that adults benefit from pageants through a prcoess called “achievement by proxy distortion,” which basically boils down to taking credit for the achievements of others. Authored by Arizona State University nutrition professor Martha Cartwright, the study suggests that the prizes and admiration heaped on the winners of child pageants can drive parents to overlook the detrimental effects on a child’s self esteem. Because hey, what ill could possibly come of teaching a four-year-old girl that the only way she’ll ever be worth anything is by being constantly pretty? That’s not a recipe for damaging a child irreparably or anything. It’s all in good fun!

Cartwright attended tapings of Toddlers and Tiaras, the nationally broadcast self-worth death mill that spawned Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, and interviewed parents and contestants for the paper, whose conclusions should come as a surprise to no one with half a brain.

(via Eurekalert, image foisted on a world that was just minding its own business by TLC)

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