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[Pn. 4] Little Miss Sunshine: Bringing to Light Problematic Gender and Body Ideologies in Child Pageantry

19 October 2013


Within the world of beauty contests and pageants, female competitors of all ages embody hyper-feminized representations of traditional gender roles, stereotypes, and norms. Research in the social sciences indicates the pressure to conform and the internalization of gender-typical attitudes and beliefs is associated with negative outcomes, such as eating disorders, negative body image, and depression (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997; Lakkis, Ricciardelli, & Williams, 1999; Moradi & Huang, 2008). Despite these findings, the mainstream media has become a powerful socializing force in perpetuating sexual objectification and self-objectification (Gordon, 2008; Nowatzki & Morry, 2009; Vandenbosch & Eggermont, 2012), extending the sexualized and hyper-feminized imagery beyond female adult competitors to include younger female child pageant competitors. As a result, social satirists have used similar media outlets to highlight and challenge this disturbing trend through devices of satire and humor. The current paper will discuss the utilization of dark comedy in Little Miss Sunshine to explore topics of sexual objectification, self-objectification and the thin ideal permeating the culture of child pageantry, especially when featuring young females.


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