Sugar and Spice

Kiddy beauty competitions necessarily conjure a lot of P words: pomp, paint, plumage, prurience and, well, pedophiles. Truth is, author Susan Anderson’s High Glitz: The Extravagant World of Child Beauty Pageants (powerHouse), out in October, will do very little to dissuade dirty old men from ogling the Savannahs, Destinys, Ashleys and Tristins of the circuit. Through studio portraits taken in pageant-happy places like Nashville and Las Vegas, Anderson captures the girls in all their sequined, studded, sparkling glory, content to never delve too far beneath the surface. In the book’s foreword, Simon Doonan likens the little ones to “tarted-up tots,” while simultaneously professing an unfulfilled childhood desire to live “like a Madame Alexander doll come to life.” Anderson herself prefers to take a slightly more academic stance, summoning words in the architectural vein, like “rococo” and “Doric.” Maybe Robert Greene puts it best in the intro. Anderson’s images, he writes, “take artificiality to a new and higher level.” And really, when it comes to America’s future—wannabe catalog models, Hooters hostesses and trophy wives—would we want it any other way?

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