Are Beauty Pageants Good for Little Kids?

Updated on July 15, 2018

Glitz Pageants

A fellow hubber requested that I write an article about whether beauty pageants are good or bad for young children, and I'm assuming they are referring mostly to glitz pageants. Much of this debate was covered in one of my previous articles, but I will expand on what I shared there. Actually, no one can make a fair blanket statement either way. To say that all pageants are bad for kids or all pageants are good for kids would be ridiculous. There are just too many variables involved. These include the pageant itself and the way it’s run, the attitude of the parents, and the individual child.

My granddaughters, my grandsons, and my niece absolutely love being in pageants. They adore dressing up, and the girls like wearing big-girl makeup. At many of the better-run pageants, the directors have costumed characters backstage to entertain the kids. The girls were thrilled when Cinderella, Princess Aurora, and Jasmine read them stories and played with them. The pageant kids also enjoy playing with and getting to know each other. There are rarely any sharp feelings of competition among the younger girls and boys, so they consider each other friends and are always sharing their candy and their toys with the other kids.

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My granddaughter, Lexi, loves the stage!Jonathan enjoyed pageants when he was a little younger!Tristan was a pageant king and winner of the top model award.My niece, Madison, has won many pageants. Her mom and I stoned this winning dress ourselves!
My granddaughter, Lexi, loves the stage!
My granddaughter, Lexi, loves the stage!
Jonathan enjoyed pageants when he was a little younger!
Jonathan enjoyed pageants when he was a little younger!
Tristan was a pageant king and winner of the top model award.
Tristan was a pageant king and winner of the top model award.
My niece, Madison, has won many pageants. Her mom and I stoned this winning dress ourselves!
My niece, Madison, has won many pageants. Her mom and I stoned this winning dress ourselves!

Bad Pageant Moms

Most all the problems I’ve seen concerning little kids and pageants stem from the parents. They often put too much pressure on the kids to win. Some of these kids hate doing pageants and are scared to go on stage, but the mothers force them out there, anyway. Obviously, these pageant moms are more concerned about themselves than they are about their child’s happiness. They’re not entering pageants for the kids – they’re doing it for themselves.

I hate to see a mom backstage scolding or berating her child because the child didn’t do well on stage. What did the mom expect? The kid didn’t want to be there in the first place! I’m not a violent person, but I swear, sometimes I’ve wanted to smack a couple of these pageant moms! Fortunately, this type of pageant mom is in the minority.

This was one of Lexi's outfits of choice. Now her younger sister, Audrie, wears it.
This was one of Lexi's outfits of choice. Now her younger sister, Audrie, wears it.
One of Madison's casual wear outfits.
One of Madison's casual wear outfits.

It’s Not All About Beauty!

What most people who haven’t been involved with pageants don’t understand is the scoring process for most kids’ pageants. It’s NOT all about beauty. Personality will win out over beauty almost every time. Our kids are beautiful, but that’s not why they’ve been so successful in pageants. It’s because they love being on stage, and the judges can tell this by their behavior.

Pageants are also about creativity and originality, especially in the sportswear, casual wear, costume wear, and swimsuit categories. In these parts of the pageant, the girls get to dance on stage to music they select, use props, and wear really fun outfits – the more original, the better.

The responsibility of the parents

Parents who place their young children in pageants have a responsibility to their kids. For example, we never make it about winning, so our kids are never under pressure. We make the event as fun as possible. It’s a way for us to all spend time together, and after the pageant, we all go out to eat as a group and enjoy each other’s company. If we’re doing an out-of-town pageant, the girls spend a lot of time in the hotel swimming pool with their pageant pals.

Our kids have NEVER gotten upset about losing because we’ve never pressured them to win. They like winning, of course, because of all the neat stuff they get. Not once, however, have my granddaughters or grandsons shed even one tear or displayed a sad face because they didn’t win. They enjoy all the fun activities that go along with the pageants!

What can kids learn from pageants?

From competing in pageants, my grandchildren and niece have learned to be good sports. They can win graciously, and they can lose graciously. They’ve also learned the importance of friendship and sharing.

Another way pageants can be beneficial is with self-confidence. Kids get used to being in front of a crowd and interacting with strangers, both in the audience and backstage.

Children also get to use their imagination and creativity. We always let them offer their ideas about their apparel and their routines. This gives the children a sense of ownership, too.

We enjoy doing pageants for charitable causes. When we compete in these, we like to explain to the kids how the money from the pageant helps others. This is another good lesson for children.

Lexi is the little one in the center.
Lexi is the little one in the center.

What Can Kids Win?

Our group has won all kinds of stuff from pageants! These include savings bonds, stuffed animals, cameras, furniture, jewelry, bicycles, dolls, flowers, luggage, televisions, CD players, DVD players, iPods, tee shirts, gift certificates, games, toys, engraved silver trays, and cold, hard cash.

Some pageant directors are getting pretty creative with what they give the winners. For example, a recent pageant in our area gave a registered Shih Tzu puppy to the supreme winner! Some of the big national pageants even award automobiles to the winners.

Of course, the participants can also receive banners, crowns, and trophies.

And it’s not just the winners who get goodies, either. In almost all pageants, all the participants under the age of nine or ten receive a trophy, a gift bag, and/or a stuffed animal.

Some pageants also invite talent scouts and model scouts to observe the contestants. Lots of pageant kids have been scouted by top modeling agencies, including my grandchildren.

The final verdict

So, are beauty pageants good or bad for little kids? It all depends on the kids and the parents. Our kids are always begging us to put them in pageants, but for those children who don’t want to participate, the parents shouldn’t force them to do so.

If your child wants to compete, be supportive but not critical. Think of pageants as a type of sport or other entertainment. Help them prepare, cheer them on, and allow them to have a good time, whether they win or lose!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

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      • Etherealenigma profile image

        Sandra M. Urquhart 

        6 years ago from Florida

        I was entered into a pageant once, but I was in my late teens at that time, so it was fine. I was first runner up. Anyways, I wasn't big into it, but in my mind, for little kids, I do think the parent's attitude about it is a huge factor. I also think that it is incumbent upon the parents, that they focus more on the child's inner beauty, not external.

        A child has to have their confidence built on more than superficialities of physical beauty. They must know that they matter and are important no matter how they look. I don't think its wise to create a situation where all of the child's self-esteem comes from how they look, because that breeds vanity, and is like dust in the wind.

        But if the child's esteem is grounded in more inner beauty and character, and if the attitude of competition is right, and not selfish, and the child enjoys it, then I see nothing wrong with it. The key is the parent's motivation for putting their child into a "competition" of this nature, and whether or not, as you say, it is about them, or about the child's enjoyment. At 2 years old, a child cannot decide whether or not they enjoy it. I think children should only be entered into these things when they are at an age where they can decide for themselves if it is something THEY want to do, without the coercion of their parents.

      • profile image

        deanne STYLINSON 

        6 years ago

        yes, yes we are, and we no find duhhh goooood information on this, I JUST WANT AN EDUMACATION!!! is that not sahh hard to ask for??????!!!!?!?!?!?!

      • profile image

        Jastery Desmin 

        6 years ago

        well giyyyyz imma thirteen year old girl and i am currently in class and im doing a persuasive text on this, i need rock solid information.. xpxoxoowe gui3ebg nching chonga as i said destery is a sexy beast and i am here with deanneskies say hi everybody!

      • profile image

        gina 

        6 years ago

        how can I get sponcers to put my2 month old on a pagent? if u can look me up on face book ginapinki325@hotmail.com

      • profile image

        123mmgishere 

        6 years ago

        i love the idea!

      • profile image

        Bonnie 

        6 years ago

        You know I think pageants are good for young ladies, when you get down to these babies that have to have their parents carry them on stage sleeping and crying it then bio

        S my nerves. I also see these 3-10 year old kids saying anything to their parents and they put it off as the kid being sleepy. It is awful the way the parents make them think they can just say anything and go onabout it. I way he'd a pagent that was to be based on Mardi Grais theme, their was a young 3 year old name Brenna I would like to spend 1week with. I would also take another week with her parents. It is an awful situation when you have to bribe a 3 year old child with100 dollars to go on the stage. As you are watching you see the parent of the child on stage standing in the audience mimicking the dance routines so the kids do exactly the routines. Some of these kids are so disappointed they cry at the end of the pagents. The name of the program ois toddlers and tiaias

      • profile image

        malindacs 

        7 years ago

        Children should enjoy there dreams but..i do think that they will grow up so fast they do look beautiful but its a beauty pageant so it should go on there natural beauty.

        Also i think its not fair the way the mums all get called child abusers and force there children into doing things they don't want to,children change there minds a lot my daughter has a new dream every week!

      • amymarie_5 profile image

        Amy DeMarco 

        7 years ago from Chicago

        I admit that I was a bit shocked when I saw these pageants on tv. I was mostly appalled at the mothers who force and practically abuse their kids. I also do not like some of the sexuality that seems to be encouraged by these moms. However after reading your hub I see that not all parents behave that way. Kids should be encouraged to follow their passions. As long as the children want to perform and understand it's for fun and not about winning at all costs, I don't see much wrong with it. Madison is a very pretty girl and I love the white dress. :)

      • Sun-Girl profile image

        Sun-Girl 

        7 years ago from Nigeria

        Interesting piece of article which i so much enjoyed reading from especially the colorful pics which was included inside.love your hub.

      • nene7884 profile image

        nene7884 

        7 years ago from Savannah,GA

        I think most pageants are bad for kids because kids at that age kids do not know much about the world. Because they are being introduce to the pageant world they may begin to determine their self worth by how these judges decide who to pick. I am sorry I would not enter my kids into a pagenant it cause children to grow up way too fast.....

      • profile image

        Steph 

        7 years ago

        I think plain pageants where the girls wear a nice dress and no make-up are lots of fun for the girls and the family that gets to watch them walk out on stage, organically. I think the pageants where the girls are wearing make-up and coached on how to prance around the stage are sick and sad. What a great way to make a young girl feel self conscious about her image! Shame.

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        7 years ago from Georgia

        Hart, glad you found my child pageants hub useful!

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        7 years ago from Georgia

        Pageantmom, sorry it took so long to respond. Glad you enjoyed the hub. I'll check yours out now.

      • HartMurengu profile image

        HartMurengu 

        7 years ago from Nairobi

        Great advice. Sometimes the moms make it too serious and about themselves that they forget the child's

        needs. Found your hub useful because I have been writing a short story on a beauty pageant and am yet to finish. Am glad I came across this hub. thanks.

        hartmurengu

      • Maddy'sPageantMom profile image

        Maddy'sPageantMom 

        7 years ago from Texas

        Great Hub, Habee.

        My daughter Maddy is involved with many pageants. She does many national pageants, and has won quite a bit. Something that has been bothering us, though, is that people stereotype me as living vicariously through my daughter and forcing her to beautify herself for my enjoyment. This is of course untrue, and I feel like this Hub has given me some fair arguments to state my case with.

        Love and kisses,

        Lauren

        P.S. If you have time, I'd appreciate it if you looked at my Hub about pageant clothing. I could use some advice!

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        7 years ago from Georgia

        Shorty, stage presence is HUGE in pageants! And since you're already used to being on stage in front of an audience, I think you'd look comfortable up there.

      • profile image

        thatshortgirl 

        7 years ago

        My parents are the encouraging and really supportive type, they love it when me and my sisters do things we like. For my older sister, thats art, my parents love to show off her latest drawings to family and friends. For my little sister, she mostly does ringette, but also soccor, my parents spend so much on her goalie equiptment for ringette, they have her on 3 teams and she loves it. And for me, its acting, singing, and someday (mabey) pageants. They are the ones that got me into preforming, and now i have tons of friends from theater, and I have hug stage pressence according to them

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Each to his or her own, Sopxxx!

        Sophia, it's all about the attitude of the parents!

      • profile image

        UR MOM! 

        8 years ago

        SARAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

      • profile image

        Sophia Angelique 

        8 years ago

        Interesting read. I don't know much about this. I agree that it has a lot to do with the parents. It's the pressure to win that is killing. If it's just fun, it's wonderful!

      • profile image

        sopxxx 

        8 years ago

        i really tink the kids ar 2 yung 2 do it and i really tink the kids don't no ta they look like dolls and adults i culdnt tell if it was a child or adult sory so plz don't send ur child in pageant o its waists ur money and we wuld hav better stuff 2 do and were in recession

      • profile image

        Jasmine 

        8 years ago

        they make kids look older than they are !!!

        But it should be the kids choicee.

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Sorry, PP - I don't know of any good sites like that, but my niece always has killer outfits. She gets a lot of ideas from punk dolls like Bratz!

      • profile image

        pageant Princess 123 

        8 years ago

        I totally agree with your statement about it depends on the child and parent. I myself am actually in beauty pagEANTS(I AM 12) and my mom was very against them until I started doing them. We enjoy doing them together and although the two minutes before you get on stage is very stressful Its al1 worth it when I get on stage. I have made tons of friend since I started in pageants.I found this site while looking up outfits of choices and I couldn't find a single site for them for my age- know any good sites that will provide these outfits.

        Sincerely yours

        Pageant Princess123

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        That's bad, Temika. The kid should want to do the pageant!

        I agree, ichoosehim!

      • ichoosehim profile image

        ichoosehim 

        8 years ago

        Your hub was very good. I think as long as the kid is happy and having fun then no problem.

      • temika profile image

        temika 

        8 years ago from united kingdom

        i agree, my aunt lets my cousin go for pagents and i hear her sobbing and crying how she didn't want to do this.

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Great comment, and thanks for the kind words!

      • 502jenngoodin profile image

        502jenngoodin 

        8 years ago from Kentucky

        First, the children are gorgeous! My daughter also enjoys entering pagaents, she says she enjoys just being up in front of people. I think they have taught her poise and grace under pressure. She truly enjoys the interviews with the judges and was thrilled this year to be old enough to answer a question on stage.

        However, having said that, I have issues with pagaents that encourage children to look like adults rather than their age. Their age is beautiful as is, and I do not think that toddlers, young girls and boys, or even pre teens for that matter should be wearing formals, sequins, hair pieces, updos, and other things that should be saved for later in life. I think children should be children, even if they do like the glitz. This is why my daughter enters only pageants that encourage children to look like children; in fact, points are deducted for each rhinestone, sequin, bit of make up and formal gowns.

        Do I think putting kids in those kinds of pagaents makes their parents "bad"? Absolutely not. I think, generally, the parents are very good parents and truly involved with and concerned with their child(ren). I think it is with a sense of pride that the children are entered. Is this harmful to their self esteem? What better way to encourage our children that they are lovely than to enter them in beauty pagaents AS LONG AS it is with the full knowledge that the parent will think the child is still the most gorgeous one there whether he/she wins or comes in last place or chooses to not even enter the stage.

        This is my humble opinion. Thanks for a thought provoking article.

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        S, I respect your opinion, and thanks for reading!

      • profile image

        8 years ago

        I think the girls are too young. Like all girls, the young children will compare themselves to the pretty girls all made up with makeup and all dressed up, and will wonder why they don't look as beautiful as them. I beleive its actually creating miniature girls who will grow up to become huge bi*ches! or girls who will always try to look perfect, who would want plastic surgery, want to be skinny etc. I beleive it is only creating problems!

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Interesting point, secularist. I've never heard of any. Thanks for reading!

      • secularist10 profile image

        secularist10 

        8 years ago from New York City

        Good article, I know very little about these pageants, although I've heard about them in the past. Cute kids!

        I wonder if there is any info/ studies on the kids who participate in pageants years later, i.e. their confidence, better or worse social adjustment, emotional well being, etc?

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Exactly, Audrey! The adults are supposed to act like...adults!

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Lily, I understand your concern. The girls also do natural pageants where they wear no makeup or fancy hair. They go on stage in a tee shirt and jeans. I actually prefer these because they're much less work, but the girls like the glitz pageants so that they can dress up.

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Ethel, thanks for reading and commenting!

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Herbi, thank you so much for your kind words about my grands! and I agree with you - any kid activity can become negative if the parents have the wrong attitude: ballet, soccer, football, baseball, t-ball, etc.

      • akirchner profile image

        Audrey Kirchner 

        8 years ago from Washington

        It all comes down to the moms (parents), dog owners, etc. doesn't it? I think everything has the potential to be a good or a great thing - as long as the 'adults' involved (or owners) realize that and make sure that they are responsible and are doing things for the RIGHT reason. Great pics!

      • Lily Rose profile image

        Lily Rose 

        8 years ago from A Coast

        I agree - the child definitely has to want to. Personally, I don't like the idea of seeing such young girls all dressed up with makeup and all. Even though it's only in that setting, my fear of predators/pedofiles outweighs the benefits of the pageants - that's my law enforcement background talking, I guess...

      • ethel smith profile image

        Ethel Smith 

        8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

        I agree with you. It depends on the children, parents etc. The idea of these pageants makes me a little uncomfortable though

      • theherbivorehippi profile image

        theherbivorehippi 

        8 years ago from Holly, MI

        First let me say that your entire family is full of beautiful children...Lexi is breathtaking! I am all for pageants as long as the mothers are not demeaning as you mentioned. Although I did not participate in pageants when I was young, I was a serious ballerina and loved EVERY minute of it until my mother started getting a little "too" aggressive with how important everything was. I never felt like I was missing out on things having to practice a lot or anything because it was something that I loved doing but it got to a point that it was expected of me to give up other things and that was my "line" that ended my love for it and my commitment. I think girls should be allowed to participate in pageants! How fun it is to get dressed up and be glamorous even at a young age but they should also be allowed to have time "off" of being perfect to play with their friends and attend social school events, etc. I think pageants do wonderful things for self-esteem and self-appreciation at a young age as long as the mothers are not critical of flaws and failures. Fabulous hub!!

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Cindy, not only is it an American thing, it's a distinctly Southern thing! Other parts of the country hold pageants, but not like we do in the South.

      • cindyvine profile image

        Cindy Vine 

        8 years ago from Cape Town

        You know, whenever I hear about beauty pagents for kids I think of that Jon-Benett Ramsay, think that was her name, and that movie Little Miss Sunshine. I think it must be an American think, but they just don't sit right with my soul.

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        I thought it was strange that I hadn't received any comments on this hub. Guess it would help if I added the comment box, huh?

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