Photo: KPA/Zuma/REX

December 2016 marks twenty years since six year old beauty queen, JonBenet Ramsey, was found murdered in the basement of her own home. The story itself is tragic and the mystery surrounding her death still remains. Yet, looking at the pictures of this young girl, I could not help but wonder whether such a young girl should be pictured in this way. Is it wrong to be labelled a ‘beauty queen’ at the age of six?

During her short life, JonBenet Ramswey won many pageant titles, including Little Miss Colorado in 1995, but the pictures of this young girl dressed up scared me. We live in a world fixated on looks and the ‘perfect’ image with women becoming more and more unhappy about the way they look. Images portrayed by the media have fuelled the ideal for women to have the ‘perfect’ look and this has gotten worse over the past twenty years. The question is whether young girls should be exposed to this world before the age of fourteen when looks become more important to them.

To me, there is something about a young girl being dressed up and photographed like a model that makes me feel uncomfortable. I wonder whether the individual has had the choice in being dressed up and entered into these beauty competitions, or if they enjoy it. We hear many stories of girls dressing up in their mum’s shoes or clothes, or finding their make-up and trying it out with messy results. This, however, is learning through play and discovering new things. It seems sad to be dressing and painting young girls like dolls when the world shuns many intelligent young minds based on cultural stereotypes. These young minds create new inventions to make the world a better place and are just as beautiful.

I believe, however, that we live in a world full of individuals. Each person is different to the next and in my mind there is no perfect image of beauty; we are all beautiful in our own way. Should we not let young girls grow up to discover the world for themselves and develop their own style and beauty?

-Claire Amundson
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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