Children's Beauty Pageants Are Not Merely Glamorous

By: Tammy Lier

In the last few years, child beauty pageants have been mired in controversy. Many people can't understand why a parent would even consider entering their child. We feel contempt for the parents who do and pity for their children. For many of us, our reactions are almost visceral.

A lot of the recent controversy has been ignited by shows on TV. One such program tracks young girls as they go from one competition to another with their ridiculously overbearing mothers. The program goes back and forth with scenes of mom and then daughter.

Mom tells the viewing public how her little beauty lives to compete. Daughter tells us how she would much rather be roller skating with friends. See mom pasting extravagant lashes to squirming daughter's eyelids. See daughter run for the bathroom and lock herself in to avoid it all.

All of this is really hard to take. Many of the little girls are there only because mommy made them do it. Mommies are perhaps living vicariously through their daughters. They desperately wanted to be Miss Somebody when they were growing up or even as young adults. It seems that no good could ever come from beauty pageants for the pint-sized.

The majority of beauty pageants that are televised are the really glitzy, glamorous events. In these affairs, the contestants are dressed like mini-showgirls with hair and makeup to match. Some even spray bronze tanners over their pale skin to look more “movie star.” The talent consists of little-bitty girls dressed like a half-naked rock star dancing to a song you wouldn't let your kids hear. Don't make the mistake of thinking that this is the only side of beauty pageantry there is. Lots of parents and daughters are on a completely different beauty pageant circuit.

There are pageants where the girls are dressed in their Sunday best with nicely groomed hair and no makeup. You won't see big hair, false lashes or sequins at these events. Such pageants are far less stressful for a child and much more fun, plus the girls can actually learn some valuable life lessons at these events.

Little girls love to get dressed up and feel like a fairy princess. In the less glitzy pageants, personality trumps beauty and each girl has an equal chance to win the crown. Judges are looking for well-adjusted, happy and confident children. The purpose of pageants such as these is to show girls that being themselves is important to their lives.

A pageant can cause a shy, retiring type to open up. The time they spend with their peers teaches them important social behaviors. When these little contestants get older, the pageants include interview segments. Many of the contestants will practice public speaking to get ready for such events. This is good training for anyone.

One of the biggest lessons pageants teach is how to handle victory and defeat. Pageants teach girls that while winning is good, having fun is the most important thing. Even the most seasoned pageant competitor faces the occasional loss. Pageant participants are usually just as happy to see their friend crowned as they would have been to win themselves.

Beauty pageants do have a tendency to be way over the top. Parents do get extremely pushy. Still, children can learn valuable lessons from being part of them. Many pageants are more about social skills than sex and sequins.

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