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article image'Let children be children': France bans child beauty pageants

By Yukio Strachan     Sep 19, 2013 in World
Paris - In an effort to protect the innocence of childhood, France voted on Tuesday night to ban beauty pageants for children under 16.
“Let’s not let our daughters think from such a young age that they will be judged according to their appearance. Let’s not let commercial interest impact on social interest,” the French amendment's author, Chantal Jouanno, told lawmakers during debate.
The Senate agreed.
The legislation, which simply reads "Organizing beauty competitions for children under 16 is banned," was approved by a vote of 197-146. It must go to French President François Hollande for a signature before it becomes law, according to the Local. The bill has already been passed by the National Assembly, the news website said.
Once approved, violators — who could include parents, or contest organizers, or anyone who "encourages or tolerates children's access to these competitions" — would face up to two years in prison and 30,000 euros ($40,000) in fines, the Associated Press reported.
But not all Senators were in favor of the law. The Socialist party's Virginie Klès thought the punishments were too harsh.
And Michel Le Parmentier, head of France's annual "Mini-Miss" children's pageant, fought against the proposed ban, saying regulations, rather than a ban, would have been a better solution.
"It's just little girls playing princess," he told the AP.
Sexed up Vogue cover picture sparked law
The measure was sparked from international outrage over a provocative January 2011 photo spread in French Vogue featuring 10-year-old French girl Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau ( seen in video below).
Blondeau, and two other little girls, were photographed in poses reminiscent of Sports Illustrated models. They also wore heavy make up and tight dresses with high heels.
While French Vogue, and Blondeau's mom, defended the photo spread, saying the girls were just dressing like their mothers, the French government decided to study the topic.
The result was a 161-page report that suggested "restricting beauty pageants to girls aged over 16 or 18, banning advertisers from dressing under age models in adult attire or using them as brand figureheads. It also advocates the return of uniforms in primary schools phased out in 1968 and considered a curious British anachronism by many," the Telegraph reported.
Jouanno, the senator who authored the report titled, "Against hyper-sexualisation, a new fight for equality," said that the sexualization of young women was “contrary to the dignity of the human being” and was a step backward for gender equality.
Boys would not lower themselves like that
This is why the new law formed part of the new “equality bill” that France’s Minister for Women’s Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, presented to the French Senate on Monday. It includes legislation to tackle unequal pay, domestic violence and to encourage fathers to take parental leave.
She received further confirmation of gender inequality when she asked the "Mini-miss" contest organizer why there were no "Mini-boy" contests.
His answer: "Boys would not lower themselves like that," she said in the Senate debate.
Do you agree with the move to ban child beauty contests? Let us know in the comments section below.
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