American Moms Reject French Effort to Ban Honey Boo Boos


Another pageant mom was just as indignant about any possibility of a ban on beauty pageants crossing the Atlantic.

"I think it's ridiculous -- France is totally different from the United States," said India McDougald, whose 5-year-old daughter, Aja, will be on an upcoming episode of "Toddlers and Tiaras."

McDougald said Aja, who has been competing since she was 2 and was recently on "Toddlers and Tiaras," had made friends at pageants.

"I don't like them, but she enjoys herself," she said. "I never force her to do them."

In the United States, as in France, parents are increasingly worried about a culture that glorifies sex. Former child star Miley Cyrus, 20, shocked many at the recent MTV Video Music Awards with a provocative performance that involved twerking and running a foam finger along her body.

But McDougald, who also has a 14-year-old, seemed unfazed. "My daughter really likes Miley Cyrus," she said. "She doesn't dress skimpy -- I wouldn't let her go out like that and at school, she's not going to wear it."

But filmmaker Jill Bauer, co-director of the documentary "Sexy Baby," said that girls as young as 12 and 13 are under enormous pressure. "We hung out with a lot of teens," she said, while making her documentary. "We observed girls at bar mitzvahs when their dads were dropping them off. How are you able to tell the difference between a prostitute and the way they were dressed?"

But, she said, "you can't blame them -- walk by any American Apparel ad." In one of its more controversial campaigns, the company used porn star Sasha Grey as one of its models.

One beauty pageant expert said the French reaction to the American export of child beauty competitions was more an effort to "retain the identity of their culture" and that Americans are as unlikely to ban these competitions as the French are to embrace them.

"It's a world of its own and a parallel universe in some ways," said Susan Anderson, a photographer who published the 2009 book on child beauty pageants, "High Glitz." "Beauty pageants are uniquely American. I don't see how it translates to the French who have understated elegance.

"When you go to Paris, you see women on the street, and they wear very little make-up and their skin and clothing are understated," said Anderson. "It's a more refined aesthetic. Surely, on the basis of fashion alone, they would reject it. It's not who they are as a people.

"But maybe we should look to French for inspiration from time to time," she continued. "Ultimately, less is more."

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