In an effort to halt the "hypersexualization" of young girls, the French upper house has voted to pass a proposal that would outlaw beauty contests for girls under 16, with penalties for breaking the law ranging from fines to jail time.
The ban would put an end to events like France's Mini Miss contest, which, much like our own Toddler's and Tiaras, even has its own reality TV series. (Although, from the images on the show's website, this particular contest seems to be more guilty of the ridiculouzation, rather than sexualization, of little girls.)
In a quote that seems like it could have been ripped from the pages of any feminist blog, Chantal Juoanna, former sports minister (SPORTS minister??!), stated:
"Don't let us allow our girls to believe from an early age that their only value is their looks. Don't let us allow commercial interests to outweigh social interests."
Given that a protest at the Miss America pageant was one of second wave feminism's first actions, you might think that les feministes Francaise would be behind this idea 100%.
But you'd be wrong, because the proposal was opposed by a number of feminist leaders. Both French senator Virginie Klés and women's rights minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem voted against the ban, citing the penalties as being too harsh.
While the law is aimed squarely at events such as the Mini Miss pageant, the push for political intervention in the sexualization of children stemmed from an incident three years ago. In 2010, French Vogue included a spread featuring a 10-year-old model dressed up in tight clothes and high heels, and posed suggestively. The spread caused an uproar, sparking outrage among parents and politicians, who vowed to put restrictions on the future creation of "Lolita" imagery that sexualizes young girls.
The ban would punish not just the organizers of child beauty contests—Mini Miss' own organizer is now threatening to move the pageant to Belgium—but also any adult who tried to enter a child into a pageant, with up to two years in prison.