A recent transplant from the U.K. to the U.S. is wondering if she experienced culture clash when she blew up at her “nosey” neighbor for trying to convince her to put her tomboyish 11-year-old into beauty pageants.
Redditors largely confirmed that no, the neighbor was just rude in replies to the post to the Reddit r/AmITheA**hole forum, “[Am I the A**hole] for telling my neighbour to mind her own business?” The original poster (OP), u/TaekwondoBeautyQueen, earned over 9,200 upvotes and 1,700 comments for her trouble.
She explains that she’s a single mother and had to move overseas for work. Though it took some time to adjust, she says that her daughter regularly stays in touch with her friends and family over Zoom, and since she found a local Taekwondo dojang, she’s been making new friends too.
Things have been going well as the two get settled in their new country. However, their neighbor, a stay-at-home mom to three girls, aged 12, 10 and 6, strikes u/TaekwondoBeautyQueen as kind of pushy and nosey—but she’s not sure if that’s just because she’s not quite used to Americans yet.
Three days ago, the neighbor visited for coffee. Though the OP originally thought it was just to chat, it turned out she wanted her to sign her daughter up for a preteen beauty pageant.
“I won’t lie I was shocked by this I don’t know anyone who does this kind of thing and they seem disgusting to me,” she wrote.
Even though she’s grossed out by child pageants, u/TaekwondoBeautyQueen held her tongue because she knew that all three of her neighbor’s daughters did them. Rather than potentially upset her, she merely said that pageants weren’t really her daughter’s scene—aside from Taekwondo, the OP says her daughter typically prefers jeans and gaming t-shirts.
“My neighbour tutted at this and said she’d seen and commented on what a waste it was as my daughter was so pretty and I was letting her waste her ‘Potential’ with all those boy things. She even tried to suggest it was something our girls could bond over and how she’d teach her how to walk and dress and do make up for it and how it would be much more fun than fighting and ‘Getting bruises,'” u/TaekwondoBeautyQueen wrote.
The OP started getting upset, but still tried to keep her cool, saying her child was “much too young” and she wouldn’t force her, as she knew it wasn’t something she’d want to do. The neighbor again insisted that they should ask her rather than let the OP decide on her own. In addition, she “implied that with how busy I must be at work it was normal girly things would slip by me and it’s ok.”
This remark set her off, and u/TaekwondoBeautyQueen kicked the neighbor out, telling her not to worry about how she was raising her daughter—and even mentioned that she was trying to be polite by not mentioning that she finds it gross that she makes her children perform in pageants.
“This led to a lot of gasping and shocked anger from her before she stormed out,” she wrote, but added that she worries she shouldn’t have snapped. “I know these shows are more common in America than the UK so maybe I tripped over some cultural landmine.”
Though she insists that no matter what, her daughter won’t be entering any pageants any time soon, the OP asked if maybe she misread the situation and her neighbor didn’t mean to come off as harsh as she did.
As controversial as beauty pageants in general are, child pageants are exponentially moreso. Fans of child pageants point to a few benefits, as listed by the parenting site Apt Parenting, including teaching children to overcome stage fright; letting them learn about competition and how not to be a sore winner or sore loser; and the opportunity to make friends.
Critics, however, have called for child pageants to be banned. France banned pageants for kids under 13 in 2013, and regulates pageants for children between 13-15. In 2015, legislators in Costa Rica also moved to ban child pageants, however, it does not appear that law passed.
A 2015 article published in The Week lays out five reasons why child pageants harm children, including issues of consent as the kids are often too young to say “no” and the sexualization of young girls. In terms of ways pageants can physically hurt children, The Week says they can lead to eating disorders, disfigured forcing girls to only wear high heels and hormone disruptors in hair spray which can stunt a child’s growth.
In 2011, there was another controversy over child pageants when an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, a TLC reality series, showed June Shannon, the mother of Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, giving her daughter “Go-Go Juice”, a mix of Mountain Dew and Red Bull, to keep her alert during pageants. Thompson was 6 years old at the time.
Shannon used the elixir when she found that Pixy Stix—a paper straw filled with sugar—didn’t keep Thompson awake, according to ABC News. The outlet also reports that the candy is known as “pageant crack,” with children fed the sugar to help them cope with long pageant days, which can last as long as 15 hours.
Redditors agreed that u/TaekwondoBeautyQueen had done nothing wrong.
“[Not the A**hole]. Sounds like either she can’t handle girls veering from the traditional, uberfeminine path, or one or more of her daughters was asking why they had to do those pageants when other girls like your daughter don’t have to and why couldn’t they do Taekwondo like your daughter?” u/The_Bookish_One wrote in the top-rated comment with 10,500 upvotes.
“I was one of those girls! It was horrid and while I know how put Vaseline on my teeth to force me to smile it added nothing to my life. I had anxiety has a child and vomited before each one I was told it was stage fright,” u/Few_Race_9723 wrote.
“Yeah, as someone who always hated regular beauty pageants, I absolutely loathe child ones. You’re supposed to have kids to raise into stable adults and to expand your family and feel the joys of parenthood. You should not be having kids just to show them off like a trophy,” u/NightWitch65 wrote. “[Not the A**hole], OP. But your neighbor sure is!”
Newsweek reached out to u/TaekwondoBeautyQueen for comment.
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