The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Lifestyles

April 12, 2013

Instagram beauty contests worry parents, child privacy advocates

Friday, April 12, 2013 — The photo-sharing site Instagram has become wildly popular as a way to trade pictures of pets and friends. But a new trend on the site is making parents cringe: beauty pageants, in which thousands of young girls — many appearing no older than 12 or 13 — submit photographs of themselves for others to judge.

In one case, the mug shots of four girls, middle-school-age or younger, have been pitted against each other. One is all dimples, wearing a hair bow and a big, toothy grin. Another is trying out a pensive, sultry look.

Any of Instagram's 30 million users can vote on the appearance of the girls in a comments section of the post. Once a girl's photo receives a certain number of negative remarks, the pageant host, who can remain anonymous, can update it with a big red X or the word "OUT" scratched across her face.

"U.G.L.Y," wrote one user about a girl, who submitted her photo to one of the pageants identified on Instagram by the keyword "#beautycontest."

The phenomenon has sparked concern among parents and child safety advocates who fear that young girls are making themselves vulnerable to adult strangers and participating in often cruel social interactions at a sensitive period of development.

But the contests are the latest example of how technology is pervading the lives of children in ways that parents and teachers struggle to understand or monitor.

"What started out as just a photo-sharing site has become something really pernicious for young girls," said Rachel Simmons, author of "Odd Girl Out" and a speaker on youth and girls. "What happened was, like most social media experiences, girls co-opted it and imposed their social life on it to compete for attention and in a very exaggerated way."

Text Only
Lifestyles
  • Engaged Engaged

    Wanda and Mark Stegall of Stanfield announce the engagement of their daughter, Katie Ann Stegall of Stanfield, to Martin Delfino Benavides of Concord, son of Martin Benavides and Samantha Jacobs of Oakboro.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Almond-Arethas Engaged

    John W. and Kathy H. Almond of New London announce the engagement of their daughter, Holli Marie Almond of Charlotte to Dimitrios Arethas of Matthews, son of Eleftherios and Fani Arethas of Matthews.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • McCandless-Whitley Engaged

    Brian and Kathy McCandless of Stanfield announce the engagement of their daughter, Carli Lynn McCandless, of Stanfield, to Cameron Lee Whitley of Oakboro, son of Art and Robin Whittaker of Albemarle and Greg and Tessa Whitley of Oakboro.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hill-McWilliams Wedding Newlyweds

    April Diane Hill and Cory David McWilliams were united in marriage on December 28, 2013, in Fort Lewis, Wash. Elder Donald Clark officiated the ceremony.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Engaged Engaged

    Jeff and Mechelle Springer of Albemarle announce the engagement of their daughter, Nicole Springer to Cody Lowder, son of Roger and Ginger Lowder of Albemarle.

    March 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Harkey-Howell Engagement Engaged

    Brian and Sarah H. Palmer of Albemarle and Tim and Lisa Harrison of Salisbury announce the engagement of their daughter, Brittany Elizabeth Harkey of Salisbury, to Caleb Lynn Howell of Albemarle, son of Lyndon and Annette Howell of Albemarle.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Goodman-Piscitelli Engagement Engaged

    Timothy N. and Cynthia Edwards Goodman of Richfield announce the engagement of their daughter, Jodi Megan Goodman of Monteverde, Costa Rica, to Matthew Philip Piscitelli of Monteverde, Costa Rica, son of Susan Weaver Piscitelli of Charlotte and the late Philip A. Piscitelli.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Burris-Gentry Engagement Engaged

    Dale and Lori Burris of Richfield, N.C. announce the engagement of their daughter, Alisa Ann Burris of Richfield, N.C. to Franklin Taylor Gentry III of Roxboro, N.C., son of Frankie and Becky Gentry of Roxboro, N.C. and John and Lynn Kerr of Semora, N.C.

    March 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Smith-Burleson.tif Susan Rebekah Smith to wed Jordan Alexander Burleson

    Ms. Susan Howard Smith and Mr. Bill Smith of Hamlet announce the engagement of their daughter, Miss Susan Rebekah Smith to Mr. Jordan Alexander Burleson of Albemarle, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Burleson.

    February 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 02-27-14 bridal fair.tif SNAP slates Bridal Fair for Sunday

    The Stanly News & Press Forever Yours Bridal Fair will be 1-4 p.m. March 2 at the Stanly County Senior Center.

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo

Seasonal Content