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Opinion: Why beauty pageants are bad for boys and dangerous for girls

The 2015 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J.
(Mel Evans / AP)

To the editor: For mothers and young daughters, I suppose beauty pageants are the flip side of Little League baseball for fathers and sons. (“There are three activities I won’t let my daughters try. One is beauty pageants,” Opinion, Jan. 4)

Parents of both genders of course want their offspring to strive for excellence and develop poise, whether that may happen on the fashion runway or baseball field. But too often the parent pushes his or her child to excel in a prominent activity as a means of living vicariously through the child’s heralded successes. That’s bad enough for boys prodded to perform in year-round baseball leagues and tournaments.

For girls, the relentless pressure to conform to societal notions of beauty abides a more pernicious evil: the push to indulge males’ pervasive objectification of females’ bodies.

I wholeheartedly agree with Mark Oppenheimer: No minor daughter of mine will ever enter a beauty pageant.

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Rona Dolgin, Los Angeles

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To the editor: So Oppenheimer writes that joining Ayn Rand clubs is one of just three activities he prevents his young daughters from doing. He’s making a mistake to address the problem at such an advanced stage.

A best-selling author of novels about iconic heroes who triumph through strength and courage is obviously an affront to a culture that celebrates victimhood and reviles success. Waiting until your children try to join a club devoted to such a controversial thinker amounts to negligence, however. Socially responsible parents must take whatever steps are necessary to insure their children are never, ever exposed to the inspiring works of Ayn Rand and her radical philosophy of reason and individualism.

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Burn her books before your children can read them. It’s the only way to be sure.

Dennis Hardin, San Pedro

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