Tell it to SunStar: Kid beauty queens?

DOES Cebu or, for that matter, this country really need more beauty pageants? Isn’t it enough that our biggest achievement, besides producing champion pugilists like Many Pacquiao, is having unleashed more international beauty queens than most other countries on the planet? Didn’t some wag once declare that China isn’t such a great nation because it’s produced no beauty queens to speak of? Didn’t he believe that a world power like China is nothing compared to the Philippines whose females are so lovely that they invariably sweep all those international beauty awards?

Am I asking these questions because I recently saw that Cebu’s South Town Center is holding a pre-pageant and talent competition later this month for girls 11 years old and under? Didn’t SunStar feature a panel of photos showing a number of girls (looking more like 21 than 11) in off-shoulder pink gowns, smiling demurely and trying to look sexy? Haven’t the organizers said they want “to showcase the girls’ physical assets and dynamic minds” and develop their talents? Aren’t the girls’ parents obliged to present P1,000 worth of receipts of purchases in Town Center so their daughters can join the contest?

Is winning beauty competitions the be-all and end-all for many Filipinas because it means an escape from humdrum lives and impecunious circumstances? Is the belief widespread that girls can gain materially by promoting many products by showing their pretty faces? Is encouraging aspirational feelings among girls dreaming of glamorous lives good for a country which needs teachers, doctors, scientists and agriculturists more than it needs beauty queens?

Is promoting consumerism in this underdeveloped country the answer to its economic and ethical woes? Does anyone consider that launching innocent children into the world makes them vulnerable to predators of many types? Is pandering to such Cinderella-type daydreams among underage girls even healthy?

Does anyone consider that exploiting minors for commercial purposes is immoral and reprehensible? Or does anyone care? (By Isabel T. Escoda, Cebu City)