CRADLE TO GRAVE
When you look at the image of Beauty, a four year old child beauty pageant contestant, what do you see? A young girl aged prematurely by her stylized makeup and hair?
Or a strong contender for a crown in a high glitz pageant?
Susan Anderson’s photos document beauty standards within the children’s pageant subculture. Setting up her studio in a hotel where a pageant is being held, Anderson invites girls to have their portraits taken, but gives them very little direction.
In great detail, her camera captures the hours of preparation that go into each child’s appearance.
Anderson photographs the pageants with an objective eye.
As she says, “My job is to record what I see. I’m not here to judge these girls or what their parents are doing. I’m here to look at it from a different perspective, to go out there and collect the facts, to learn about the pageants and the costumes.”
Anderson’s photographs illustrate a sociological phenomenon without either celebrating or condemning it. Now, think back to your initial reaction.