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Outrage in Colombia over ‘Little Miss Thong’ Child Beauty Pageant

Little Miss Thong child beauty pageant, January 2015. Image on Flickr by user remolacha.net. CC 2.0.

Little Miss Thong child beauty pageant, January 2015. Image on Flickr by user remolacha.net. CC 2.0.

The township of Barbosa, in the Andean Colombian department of Santander, was the location of a controvesial beauty pageant known as Little Miss Thong. Participants in the contest, sponsored by the local city hall, were girls whose ages ranged from six to ten years old who paraded in bathing suits.

Internet users have been swift in denouncing the contest. The website Evangelizadoras de los apóstoles (Evangelizers of the Apostles) spoke out against the event:

Resulta que cada año desde hace 25, en el municipio de Barbosa, Santander, niñas entre seis y diez años desfilan en tanga, maquilladas, contoneándose y tirando besos a una audiencia de adultos que ingieren licor.
Miss Tanguita, según la alcaldesa Maryury Rocío Galeano Jiménez, es una tradición de Festi-Río, y nadie en el municipio, ni los padres de familia, ni las empresas privadas que pautan, ni la misma Alcaldía (que invita y promociona), ve nada malo en que las niñas participen en este reinado de belleza. De hecho, la alcaldesa afirma que a las niñas las educan en valores (¿qué valores?) y que se les enseña que su cuerpo es un templo (¿un templo para quién?).

It turns out that every year, for the past 25 years, in the township of Barbosa, Santander, girls aged between six and ten hit the catwalk wearing thongs, with make up, swinging their hips and blowing kisses to an audience of alcohol-consuming adults. Little Miss Thong, according to Mayor Maryury Rocío Galeano Jiménez, is a part of the Festi-Río tradition, and neither the parents nor the private firms that advertise there, or City Hall itself (which invites participants and promotes the event), sees anything wrong with the girls taking part in this beauty contest. In fact, the mayor claims the girls are educated in values (which values?) and they are taught that their bodies are temples (temples for whom?).

Festi-Río is a very important yearly event in Barbosa and Colombia in general, where many local and foreign tourists take part.

Meanwhile, the website PedroVisión posted photos and videos from the pageant, commenting:

Lo que en Barbosa, localidad del departamento de Santander, al noroeste de Colombia, consideran una bonita tradición que se remonta a un cuarto de siglo, en Bogotá lo han tachado de espectáculo bochornoso. Y el ICBF, organismo dedicado a proteger la infancia, ya ha anunciado que investigará el singular certamen para impedir que se repita.

Las voces críticas […] llegan a decir que se podía equiparar a la pornografía infantil. También agregaban que supone fomentar el que las mujeres tengan como aspiración máxima convertirse en modelos y hacer de la belleza, en lugar del estudio, el centro de sus vidas.

What in Barbosa, a town in the department of Santander, in Northwestern Colombia, is considered a nice tradition, more than a quarter-century old, in Bogotá it has been qualified as a shameful show. And the Colombian Institute of Family Well-Being [know as ICBF by its name in Spanish], which is charged with protecting children, has already announced that this unique event will be investigated to prevent its repetition.

Critical voices […] have said [the contest] can be equated with child pornography. They also say the pageant encourages women to pursue becoming a model and being beautiful, instead of getting an education.

Confidencial Colombia (Confidential Colombia) also analyzed the consequences such a contest might have on young girls:

¿Qué niña no sueña con ser princesa o reina?”, se pregunta indignada la madre de la miss tanguita 2015. […] Después de que los aplausos y los flashes les llegan por mostrar su cuerpo, no nos extrañemos de ver adolescentes soñando con una operación de tetas o de culo a los 15 años, o consumiéndose en la anorexia y la bulimia, en permanente contradicción con su cuerpo. Después de sexualizarlas desde los 7 años, no nos quejemos del altísimo índice de embarazos adolescentes, primer factor reproductor de la pobreza y la inequidad.

“What little girl doesn't dream of becoming princess or queen?,” wonders outraged Little Miss Thong 2015's mother. […] After the applause and camera flashes they get for showing their bodies, we should not be surprised when we see teenagers pining for a boob jobs or buttocks surgery at age 15, or consuming themselves in anorexia and bulimia, in permanent contradiction with their bodies. After sexualizing these girls since the age of seven, don't complain later about the high teenage pregnancy rate, the greatest factor in prepetuating poverty and inequality.

Twitter users also expressed their opinions:

Little Miss Thong isn't wrong, what's wrong is the setting it takes place in. With rum involved, there's nothing that can be done with children.

Little Miss Thong doesn't exist because there aren't laws to prohibit it, but because our social conscience tolerates and approves it.

We can't go on teaching girls their value lies in the beauty of their looks. What chances are we giving them?

You are all outraged with all this Little Miss Thong event, but are happy with #Diomedizate, who participated in the rape and murder of Doris Niño.

(This final tweet refers to a criminal case in 1997, when Diomedes Díaz was accused of the homicide of 22-year-old Doris Niño García.)

Some online noted what they think is a double standard:

Too many people are outraged about Little Miss Thong, a Colombian traditional event of girls wearing a bikini. But with spring pageants, there is nothing.

It's worth mentioning that little more than a year ago, in France, the French Senate banned beauty pageants for girls younger than 16 years old.

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  • misleading

    Ummm where are the thongs?

    Is it illegal now for girls to wear bathing suits in public? Sheesh.

  • chris hampton

    I Think Little Girls In Baithing SUits and BIkinis an Thong Bikinis can look beautiful,Pretty,cute,sexy
    Wonderful and Very Specil as well and I’ll watch the Little Miss Thong Child Beauty Pagent as well. and has beautiful Butts and PRetty Belly Buttons as well.and they looks so cute in thier Bikinis And I Love it as well. and PRetty Hair and Lovely Skin as well. I Love seeing pretty girls and women at all aged in thier bikinis,thong bikinis and BAithing suits as well.I Love thier cute belly buttons as well as well. I’ll enjoy it as well.it’s entertainment as well and i think girls can wear thier baithing suits in public and women can too as well, and i think girls and women in thier bikinis and baithing suits can look beautiful and pretty as well.

  • Someone

    The pageant title is a bit creepy, but I don’t see what the outrage is about. They’re just kids in bikini’s. They’re not being abused. They’re not naked. They’re not even in thongs.

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