It seemed an unusual coincidence that yesterday, the day a former schoolteacher was arrested for the murder of “6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey,” I would see Little Miss Sunshine, a movie about a family’s adventure as it makes a cross-country trip to get their young daughter to a beauty pageant.
Going into the film, I had no clue what it was about. I only went because people kept telling me how wonderful it was. And they were right. It is a pretty amazing movie, certain to touch you, particularly if you are devoted to your daughters or nieces.
The juxtaposition of these two events made me wonder yet again about the whole phenomenon of beauty pageants for pre-teen girls. In the movie, the serious contestants looked less like girls than like miniature fashion models. It was as if someone had taken their childhood away.
That’s certainly what I thought when I first read about JonBenet’s murder, now nearly a decade ago. On the news, they showed clips of such pageants. In the movie, Olive, the young girl, wants to win her contest, just as most little kids want to win something, to be recognized as special.
I have five pretty amazing nieces, none of whom dress up like beauty queens. Still, they are the most beautiful girls in the world. And maybe they don’t need such competitions because their parents and grandparents as well as their aunts and uncles let them know how wonderful they are.
Childhood is so short. We should let kids be kids and do whatever it is kids do, whether it’s playing with dolls or toy trains, climbing trees, reading books or eating ice cream or whatever else a particular child might enjoy. And not let them grow up too quickly. If we encourage them in their passions and even their silliness as children, they will likely grow up to be more responsible adults.
Kids do have so much to give. And they can better give if they’re allowed to be kids, rather than expected to become miniature adults. That seems to be the message of this wonderful movie. One of the many reasons which I recommend it so highly — and may even see it again even before I buy the DVD.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com