Opinion Opinion L.A.

No Honey Boo Boos for the French, tant pis

It appears there will be no Miel de Boo-Boo.

But if the French version of Honey Boo Boo will never happen, the reason for it is actually pretty stunning, even to those of us who have managed to avoid the original version: The French government is moving toward a ban on beauty pageants for little girls.

Let’s stipulate that most of us are sickened by the sight of padded bras and thongs (we’re not talking about the flip-flops banned in two San Juan Capistrano parks) being marketed to little girls who are too young to have any idea what a Kotex is. And that beauty pageants for children tend to be sexualized, featuring inappropriate makeup and/or clothing. And that beauty pageants for children, even those featuring fluffy, modest dresses, might themselves be a negative force that sends a message to even preschoolers that the only thing that matters is their looks.

Yes, even if all of that is true, what on Earth is the French government thinking? How much interference in individual action can it really impose in good conscience? Are there no greater threats to the children and women of France than a few silly pageants? Honey Boo Boo has never made it into my house, but for those who love this sort of recreation, hey, go knock yourselves out. Maybe it doesn’t strike many people as wholesome for kids, but then Boo Boo’s family might consider the upper-class white-knuckle waiting lists for just the right preschools and tutors and colleges to be fairly unhealthy. Chacun a son gout and all that.

It can be hard, as we watch corporations push harder and harder at us and our children to consume and accept twisted products and values that are not in our best interests, not to fight back with regulation. And that regulation is called for, when the target results in measurable harm to a large segment of the population.

Both France and the United States are in the top third among nations for per capita cigarette consumption. And for all their denials, cigarette companies intentionally target children in an effort to get them hooked at an early age on a habit that is extremely hard to quit. Cigarettes are still the No. 1 cause of preventable death in this country, and their harm spreads beyond the people who smoke them to those who breathe secondhand smoke.

France might have better brie, but when it comes to what’s harmful to children and adults, the United States has its priorities straighter. Cigarettes are a national health hazard. Honey Boo Boo and her ilk are — well, perhaps not haute monde, but doing their own thing. Which is a very American thing to do.


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Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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