Thursday, May 12, 2011

Botoxing Your Child: A Misguided Momsperiment?

You've probably sneaked a guilty peek at "Toddlers and Tiaras" or one of the other popular reality shows showing the inner workings of child beauty pageants. So you know that these moms do whatever they can to give their daughters an edge when they twirl before the judges: buying thousand-dollar dresses, hiring professional coaches, taking the girls for spray tans and manicures, ordering kiddie dentures to cover up gaps from lost baby teeth.

But it seems that's not quite enough anymore. The newest trend in the pageant circuit is Botox injections - to mask any hint of a burgeoning wrinkle that might cost a girl valuable points toward a Grand Supreme crown. "It's pretty much, like, the thing. I'm not the only one that does it," this mom explains. A part-time esthetician, she gets her doses from "a trusted source" and administers the shots to her 8-year-old daughter at home. Her rationale: It's "safe," makes young Britney feel more confident about her looks and keeps her in the running in the highly competitive kid-beauty world.

Granted, moms experiment with their children's appearance all the time, from simple choices like clothing and hairstyles to more permanent options like piercing their newborns' ears. If a look doesn't suit their tastes - or if the child has other preferences (trust me when I say I'll never have my son's hair buzz-cut again) - it's easy enough to change, with no harm done. But intentionally putting a muscle relaxant in a second-grader's face? Without a doctor's supervision? A "safe" chemical with potential side effects like rash, chest pain, flu-like symptoms, seizures and breathing difficulties? At the very least, it's hardly in the same discomfort category as an ear piercing; the pictures of Britney holding an ice pack to her swollen face say it all.

I won't even get into the whole issue of the pageants themselves; that's a Momsperiment for another day. But if a child can't become a beauty queen without having her natural features and smile paralyzed in a most unnatural way, maybe it's time for the governing organizations to step in and draw the line. Otherwise, it may not be long before pageant moms start taking their kindergartners for nose jobs and brow lifts.

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