Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pageant Boys

The link above is to a story about little boys competing in beauty pageants alongside little girls. I find beauty pageants themselves to be very problematic, no matter the gender of those involved. However, the information is interesting. According to the article, ten percent of pageant contestants are not boys, up from five percent five years ago. The article mentions that this story is one of "recent string of well-publicized reports of boys embracing their more feminine or creative sides."
The article includes interviews with the mothers of a couple "pageant boys." Some seem to recognize their children's enthusiasm for pageants as a legitimate form of expression. Others imply that they put their sons in pageants because they wish they'd had a girl, instead. I think it's pretty universally harmful to be putting any child in a forum where they are judged primarily on their appearance. From the footage I've seen, it doesn't seem like the boys are sexualized in the same way as young girls who participate in the same pageants. However, I think the growing popularity of boys in pageants may be indicative of a gradual loosening of masculine expectations for little boys.
Also interesting is the article's conflation of the feminine and the creative, implying the creativity is somehow un-masculine. This is a great example of the restrictiveness of traditional masculinity. Any convention that would paint a child's creativity as something negative based on whether they're a boy or a girl is definitely negative.

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