If there is one thing I have learned in my time as a professional philosopher and Thinker-In-Residence at the Holbrook School of Social Sciences and Submarine Training Academy, it is that of all human questions, the most vexed and subjective is this: "What is Beauty?"
Nobody can ever agree on this, which is why it is so important not to be rigid and prescriptive about what constitutes "beauty". We all have our own personal tastes, and we must be open-minded and tolerant of each other in this regard.
Yet there are those who believe there is only ONE kind of beauty, and that their own hidebound ideals must be enforced upon others. There are those who refuse to let people get on with appreciating beauty in their own way. There are those who say, "You must not find this beautiful, or you will wither in the scorching heat of our self-righteous opprobrium". These are the people who are trying to hold back the public expression of beauty in the form of small children dressed as adults performing for our entertainment.
Yes I am talking about child beauty pageants, because frankly I am mad as hell. What gave these uptight wowsers the right to go around trying to put boundaries around the free spirit of childhood? I object to anyone telling me I do not have the right to raise my children as I see fit, be that Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or dancing bikini-cowgirl. Who are they to decide what is or isn’t a bad parent? They squeal bloody murder if I make my four-year-old learn rope tricks or wear a g-string, but would they complain this loudly if I forced my kids to work as chimney sweeps? Probably, and that just goes to prove my point — you cannot please some people.
Throughout history, child labour has been a proud and useful tradition of this our human race. In the old days kids did everything — picked cotton, mined coal, wrote essays for Quadrant. Why, four out our first five prime ministers were under 10! So the notion of not putting children to work is really quite a recent one. And a damaging one — think of how much more productive our economy could be if we could harness the power of children?
And after all, top economists and Terry McCrann tell us that removing productivity constraints is the key to maintaining economic growth without fuelling inflation. And not that I know quite what that means, but reading between the lines I think it means we need to get our little ones to work, the lazy little hogs. And what better way to start this economic revolution than with beauty pageants?
Because beauty pageants don’t just provide gainful employment for children, they also provide invaluable life lessons. What better education can a child get than that supplied before the sparkly curtain? How better can we prepare our offspring for the future than by letting them "learn by doing" the secrets of a whiter-than-white smile, a sassy shimmy and some knee-high boots? What we are looking to do is create the good citizens of tomorrow, and when I look at the world of kiddie pageants, I can conceive of no better breeding ground for those citizens.
And I guess the biggest reason for that is that of all the lessons beauty pageants teach, the greatest is this: do as you are told. This is something we all need to remember as we move through life, and it is something we can instil in the next generation right from the get-go if we toss them into the glamorous maw of the pageant-bear. Beauty pageants are an absolute orgy of obedience, a glittering monument to subservience. Those little girls really get the concept of doing what they’re told. They understand that if they disobey their mothers, something horrible will happen to them.
And the really good part is that if you start ‘em young, you probably will only have to actually do horrible things to them four or five times, before they start school, and from then on you don’t have to at all! From then on, the threat will be enough to keep them in line, much in the same way as Alan Jones doesn’t have to actually do anything to get politicians to do what he wants them to — he just has to threaten to visit their home.
On the other hand, leave discipline too late, and you may find yourself committing atrocities on your child on almost a daily basis, all because you didn’t love them enough to do so before they could walk. Who is the true bad parent — the one who punches their child in the face as a precautionary measure, or the one who waits until they’re 13 and then throws them in a river? You see my point. Beauty pageants are an ideal way to "get in early" and show your kids who’s boss.
And they teach self-discipline too. You don’t get to the top of the pageant tree without hard work — you need to rehearse those moves, hone your cuteness, tone those little thighs. You need to put in the hard yards, or you won’t get anywhere. You’ll lose. And no kid likes losing, especially if their mum’s going to punch them in the face afterwards.
The work ethic of those little mites is amazing. Why, look at little Eden Wood, beloved pageant superstar and singer-songwriter: at only six years of age, she has starred in numerous television shows, two films, written a book, released a single and developed who knows how many deep-seated psychological conditions, through pure hard slog. We could all learn a thing or two from Eden Wood, if it wasn’t so expensive to get a look at her.
So yes, there are many reasons to admire beauty pageants and aspire to be a part of their world, but what it really comes down to is beauty. We have a right to beauty in our lives, and we have a right to choose our own definition of beauty itself. Can’t we appreciate ALL the colours of the human rainbow? To me, a voluptuous young lady hanging by her toes from a clothesline playing a trumpet is beautiful. To others, a bodybuilder riding a Dalmatian is beautiful. To an anteater, a termite mound might be beautiful. To a priest, a well-filled pair of shorts may be beautiful. And to many people, pre-pubescent girls slathered in eight inches of make-up and performing in the manner of high-class role-playing prostitutes are beautiful. And why not, I say? Why not? Oh sure, you probably have "answers" to that question, but are those answers beautiful? Then they are invalid.
I’m just sick of this joyless, censorious society of ours. What harm can it do a child to devote her life to giving joy to thousands? To know the thrill of competition, the excitement of performance, and the giddy rush of knowing you peaked at age six and will never be as loved or respected as that again? Peaking early, in fact, is about the greatest thing anyone can do. I won a spelling bee when I was eight, and my life since then has been tremendously relaxing.
I say let’s embrace the beauty of the beauty of the beauty pageant. I say we revel in the perfection of the child form. I say we marvel at the wonder of God’s creation, so small and fragile, yet so attractive and skilled with a lasso. I say we shrug off the wowsers and say, let the kids have their fun, within strict and harshly enforced limits.
It’s time to let kids be kids. In as sexy a manner as possible.
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