I really don’t have a very strong opinion on this issue but for the sake of balance, I might as well defend the unpopular view.
But then again, there are a lot of childhood activities that require practice and other kinds of time commitment. Is every parent who pushes their kid to take music lessons and then practice at home being a lousy parent?
Beauty pageants may seem frivolous to a lot of us, but you could argue that girls do benefit from having the chance to learn about poise, accepting losses gracefully, fashion, etc. as well as just getting the added time/attention from their moms.
I can understand the concern about sexualizing young girls, because I do think that happens too early in this culture. I would hope that people who make their little girls look like tehy have boobs are marked down in the contest.
If you feel like by definition beauty pageants are wrong because dressing up little kids will attract pedophiles, should little girls avoid activities like ballet dancing, gymnastics, or figure skating too? You could argue that putting kids in tight leotards for events like that gives pedophiles the chance to ogle them too.
I don’t picture myself ever putting my own kids in beauty pageants, but then again I’ve never liked fashion or makeup stuff all that much. I could see how I might feel differently if those were things I liked, and how a little girl who is inclined to like fashion and makeup kind of stuff might enjoy the chance to get dolled up and go on stage.
If the family makes the kid feel bad for losing, sure, that is messed up…but that can happen in any competitive event kids are in. If they are doing it for fun, I could see it being positive for the kid to have an activity they can do with their mom like that.