Are Honey Boo Boo and other little beauty pageant contestants risking their mental and physical health by competing? After conducting in-depth research on Honey Boo Boo and the child beauty pageant circuit, an expert has concluded that the answer is yes, reported Psych Central on Oct. 29. And she goes on to say that the pageants popularized by the reality shows “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” typically take place to satisfy parents rather than the children in a syndrome she calls “princess by proxy.” Among her concerns: “Pageant crack” diets consisting of sweets and energy drinks that impact the children’s physical health as well as the damage to their self-esteem that could result in eating disorders.
Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the new study explains the theories of Professor Martina M. Cartwright, who says that participating in those “princess by proxy” pageants provide pushy parents with social and/or financial gains. Dr. Cartwright examined what amounts to a $5 billion industry, featuring children adorned in pricey attire and layers of makeup. Entry fees, photos, wigs, gowns, fake tans and fake teeth (used to hide the Tooth Fairy’s stealing of tiny teeth) result in a $3,000 to $5,000 cost per competition, she revealed. Dr. Cartwright viewed parents feeding their kiddies energy drinks and candy, sometimes referred to as “pageant crack.” One mother announced, “We’ve gone through two bags of crack and two cans of energy drink so she can stay up for crowning.” And, although not cited in the study, Honey Boo Boo’s mother June repeatedly illustrates that point, boasting how she has concocted an energy drink that she calls “go-go juice” which consists of caffeinated Red Bull and caffeinated Mountain Dew. Yum.
So what do Honey Boo Boo’s parents and their pals get for all that pricey glitz? Anything from cash to crowns to puppies (hmm, maybe Suri Cruise would like to compete to get that puppy she wanted). But based on her research, Dr. Cartwright is concerned that the glory of winning results in parents who become addicted to what she calls “achievement by proxy distortion” at the risk of their children’s emotional and physical health. And she is concerned that parents pressure their daughters to appear “flawless. They were fully made up; they looked like adult women, pint-size,” she added. That focus on their appearance could result in eating disorders, according to Dr. Cartwright. What do you think? Honey Boo Boo recently announced that she felt “too chunky” to compete, and her mother scolded her that she should diet and “stay away from those chicken nuggets.” Should a seven-year-old be that conscious of her appearance?