France's upper house of parliament has voted to outlaw beauty contests for girls under 16 years old under threat of prison sentences and fines in an attempt to halt the "hypersexualisation" of youngsters.
The Sénat voted for the proposal on Wednesday after Chantal Jouanno, a former sports minister under the right-of-centre president Nicolas Sarkozy, introduced the ban as part of a bill on gender equality.
"Don't let us allow our girls to believe from an early age that their only value is their looks," Jouanno told senators. "Don't let us allow commercial interests to outweigh social interests.
"Lawmakers are not moralisers, but we have a duty to defend the superior interest of the child."