LISTEN: Child beauty pageants coming to Quebec?
We've all seen, or at least heard of, television reality shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Toddlers & Tiaras — shows which follow beauty pageant contestants who are barely out of diapers, and in some cases, not even out of diapers.
And now, pageants for the very young, organized by groups like Miss All Canadian Pageant and National Canadian Girl Pageant, might be coming to Quebec.
Miss All Canadian Pageant describes itself as a big player in beauty pageants across Canada, organizing pageants for babies and young children in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and it's now considering bringing those pageants to this province.
Pageant organizers say they have received many requests from Quebecers to hold pageants here, and that parents of young girls in this province — sometimes as young as 2 months old — often cross the border to Ontario so that their kids can participate in beauty pageants there.
"My daughter is a ham, so she loves attention," says Valerie Fortin of her 11-month-old daughter, who has competed in beauty pageants outside the province. "She wanted to go up in front of the judges when it wasn't her turn, she absolutely loves it, she loves being in the spotlight the whole day and people clapping for her."
The pageants have their critics, like Alexa Conradi, the head of the Fédération des Femmes du Québec, the province's most important feminist group, who says beauty pageants for young girls and babies are harmful to children.
"They're really not that welcome here," Conradi says of the pageant organizers. "They tend to sexualize young girls at a very very early age, and it's not good for their development, but It's also not a good general message for girls in general, whether they participate in these competitions or not."
Fortin, who has had her own experiences with child beauty pageants, disagrees.
"I don't see why pageants shouldn't be here. What's not to like?" she says. "I think it's a beautiful experience...there's the whole aspect of developing social skills and public speaking, and self confidence. I think people look at it the wrong way. They put an emphasis on how superficial the pageants are, but it's not about that at all. It's really about celebrating girls and their self-esteem."
Miss All Canadian Pageant or National Canadian Girl have indicated they could hold their first Quebec contests by the end of this year.
Photo: courtesy Valerie Fortin