September 19th, 2013
10:18 AM ET

Miss America Weighs in On Child Beauty Pageants

France's Senate has voted to ban all beauty competitions for kids under the age of 16. It still has to pass their lower house, but many are asking if the US should follow suit.

The anti-child pageant momentum in France was partly fueled by a controversial photo spread in French Vogue featuring a then 10-year-old in heavy makeup and sexy clothing. 

Critics say pageants sexualize and exploit girls at the youngest ages, while supporters say they lead to higher confidence and self, esteem, CNN's Kelly Wallace reports.

For example, Anna Berry says her 13-year-old daughter Ashley overcame extreme shyness by competing in pageants, and now Ashley gives speeches around the country talking about her experience with bullying.

Some psychologists are concerned about normalizing behavior for young girls that would once have been considered extreme.


The newly crowned Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri, joined New Day in the studio to weigh-in. In her own experience, scholarship and service play a significant role:

"I started in the Miss America's Outstanding Teen Program and that's meant to be a feeder into Miss America, and I started when I was 16. Through the program I gained $25,000 in scholarship money, and with that and the help of my parents, I was able to graduate debt free from the University of Michigan. Right now I'm currently in the process of applying to medical school, and I just won $50,000 in scholarship money as Miss America…"

She goes on to say that the key component to dealing with all the pressure of pageants is maturity.

"I definitely do think that a maturity level has to be there before you can begin, and I made the conscious decision on my own because I knew that I had to pay for some of my education and this was a great avenue."


What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Miss America?

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