French Senate votes to ban 'Mini Miss' beauty contests
The French Senate has approved a proposal to ban beauty contests for girls under 16 to prevent what a parliamentary report called the "hyper-sexualisation" of children.
The proposal, contained in an amendment to a broader law on sexual equality, was backed by the upper house of parliament on Tuesday.
The sexual equality law returns to the lower house National Assembly for a second reading in November and it is not certain that the proposed ban on so-called "Mini Miss" contests will be retained.
The Senate amendment follows a parliamentary report "Against Hyper-Sexualisation: A New Fight For Equality" which called for a ban on child-size adult clothing, such as padded bras and high-heeled shoes and an end to beauty competitions for the under-16s.
"Let us not make our girls believe from a very young age that their worth is only judged by their appearance," said the author of the report, former sports minister Chantal Jouanno.
Under the amendment proposed by the Senate, organisers of beauty pageants could face up to two years in prison and a 30,000-euro ($40,000) fine.
That sanction is regarded as too severe by many deputies, which could result in the amendment being thrown out when it goes back to the National Assembly.
The measure was prompted by controversy over a Vogue magazine photographic shoot featuring provocative images of a 10-year-old French girl in December 2010.
The girl, Thylane Loubry Blondeau, and two others were photographed with heavy make up and wearing tight dresses, high heels and expensive jewellery.
Vogue defended the pictures, saying it merely portrayed a common fantasy among young girls -- to dress like their mother.
Blondeau's mother, actress turned designer Veronika Loubry, sparked more outrage by writing in a blog that her "daughter isn't naked: let's not blow this thing out of proportion."
The Vogue photographs created controversy not only in France but also overseas, where they were widely deemed to be inappropriate
Senator Jouanno also said young girls were being disguised as "sexual candy" in beauty pageants, which she said was a step backwards in the battle for women's equality.
What do you think? Do you think that child pageants teach them that their looks are all that count? What purpose do child pageants serve, in your opinion? Would you, as a mother, enter your child in one?
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