Daughter Wants to Be in Pageants !

Updated on February 23, 2010
N.C. asks from Piscataway, NJ
14 answers

Ok, so my youngest daughter Kandence who is 5 has been hassling and begging me to let her be in pageants ever since she watched that show " Toddler and Tiaras " and " Little Miss Perfect" with her older sister. I am a lil skeptical about it because i don't want to be a competitve mother and I don't want it to seem like she's growing up so fast. But she really wants to do and has been playing in my make up lately and walking around the house like she's in pagents. She's really pretty and she's a little firecraker. What do you think ? What's your opinion?

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answers from Bismarck on

I know how you feel because I felt exactly the same way you do until my neice and my daughter decided they wanted to be in a pageant (they are both 7). The first thing I did was call the director and ask a million questions, and I quickly changed my mind. This particular pageant was run through the Miss America Organization. The girls competed in the local preliminary pageant and it was NOT focused on looks. It was judged on personality and stage presence. There were four areas of competition...interview, talent, athletic wear (instead of swimwear at this age) and party dress. The registration fee was $75 but otherwise I spent very little money. She wore a dress that I got off the clearance rack at Herberger's and I bought her a new outfit for her interview. Otherwise, she wore things she had at home. We also did very minimal make-up, just a little eye shadow and some lip gloss. They actually deducted points if the girls looked too "grown-up".

I think you can make this into whatever you want it to be. I know some of the mom's spent tons of money on dresses and paid for private dance lessons and everything. My theory was if I have to spend a ton of money just for her to win then I don't want her to win because I can't afford to keep up with it. I did not put any pressure on her and I told her beforehand that I will be very proud of her for going on stage and doing her personal best. And even on my meager budget she did win a title and will now compete at the state level. (At this age they do not compete at national level).

If this is something your daughter really wants to do then my suggestion would be to let her try it out. I don't know how many options you have in your area but do your research and pick one that you are comfortable with. Also, you can buy dresses very reasonable on ebay. I found one that my daughter will wear for state competition for about $30.

If you are interested in seeing some pictures of the outfits the girls wore just email me and I will send them to you. Good luck in whatever you decide to do.

And by the way, the benefits to this is it teaches girls to be comfortable on stage and when interacting with adults. It also builds their self confidence. The interview was done privately (not on stage) and they simply asked her about her hobbies and interests. She won a college savings bond along with several other prizes. The reason my neice wanted to do this was because she wanted to get over her stage fright so she could get a better part in the summer theater this year. Let me say again, this pageant was not a "beauty" pageant. It was a way to let little girls be little girls and be proud of it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Yikes we always make fun of those people on Toddlers and Tiaras. Those little girls are look so -- well -- slutty to me in those costumes and cake-up. It creeps me out a bit. I mean, it's a personal preference, but there are so many more worthwhile things to involve children in that center on more than beauty. How about sports so she can learn how to be a team player and get exercise (or even cheerleading). Or dance (they get to wear pretty outfits but they aren't competing against each other on the basis of looks). I just think the whole thing is so superficial. Maybe buy her some pretty dress-up clothes and play dress up with her. Put on some music and dance. I like the last mom's idea about theater. Get her involved in things that have her interacting with people in positive ways and have her learning skills that will further her in life. Maybe show her how to be beautiful on the inside by helping people in need -- volunteer at a food pantry or visit a nursing home. Beauty is fleeting....

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answers from Utica on

Hi Divamommy
You asked for opinions. I vote don't do it. I don't think kids need to grow up thinking their looks are not good enough with all the makeup etc. Personally I don't know why you would let your little one watch the show, unless you wanted her to beg you to do it. Personally I would have said you can't do it it is just a TV Show.
But if you are making a decision about whether this is good for your child to do, this is what I would do. Do you know others in the area that have done it for a while? Does your daughter know anyone who does it? Are they friends or does she say she is stuck up and unfriendly, better than the rest of the kids, or doesn't have time to play because she is always preparing for a pageant? Whatever to indicate what happens next with the locals?
Have you talked to anyone who is involved in the judging or setting up of a local pageant? Do you have the money to actually have her ready to compete as it is costly, years ago I knew a woman who thought nothing of spending 2-3 thousand on daughters outfits for one competition? Without the right clothes etc of course you are setting them up for obvious failure.
Again I vote don't, but I think God made every girl beautiful, and never wanted mine to judge others on their have's and have not's, I think girls are apt to have enough of that built into them.
God bless you with a good decisions for your daughter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think that the important thing is not whether you let her do it or not, but how you frame the experience.

You can do research, like the other poster, and make sure you are comfortable with the pageant set up and then let it be about having the experience - playing dress up, getting out on the stage, etc - not winning. She'll either love it or not, and then you can decide the next step. If you don't let her do it, she'll believe it would be the "best" experience. If she actually does it, who knows.

When my stepdaughter was 15 or 16 she also very much wanted to be in a pageant, and we let her. Didn't put in a big investment, and asked her to pay some of the ancillary expenses, but let her do it. She didn't have as good a time as she imagined at the pageant, but did a photo shoot for Elle Girl because of it, and got to go to the launch party, both of which were a really fun experience for her. And then that was it. She had gotten to see what it was about, and that was enough for her. She's now 24 and BOTH beautiful and VERY bright and motivated. I disagree that you can't be everything at once!

Find out what she likes about the pageant, and see if you can find more creative ways to channel her energy, like maybe theater. But letting her get dressed up and strut around a stage one time (or even several) is not going to warp her for life- as long as it is something she really wants to do, and you keep it about having fun, and not the outcome.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I would talk to your daughter and find out what she liked about watching those shows, and why she wants to be in pageants, and go from there. She probably has no idea what it would really be like to be in a pageant like that and certainly those on TV don't portray what it is really like, because, well... it's tv.

I think, generally speaking pageants, are not good for most people, but especially not little girls. And little girls should have fun playing with make-up and dress up, but not think that it's real life or that they are any better or prettier than anyone else.

I'm just curious, why you would entertain the idea of having her in pageants? There are so many other avenues you can encourage that are less exploitive and potentially damaging to her in the long run.

I'm not trying to sound judgmental... I just can't see that anything that beneficial would come from encouraging it...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I think it's a terrible idea. She's just a little girl, she shouldn't be competing with others about who's prettiest, or whatever. Play pageant with her if you think it's a good idea, but I would try to get her interested in other things. She probably just likes the dressing up -- you could encourage her to dress up as an actress, a princess, a fairy. Get her involved in theater if she seems to be a born performer.

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answers from New York on

I never thought I would say this.....but if she is really interested I think you should let her do it, on a couple of conditions....

5 year olds have a notorious history of liking one thing today and getting bored of it the next. Make her wait a little bit, maybe until the Fall. If she is still interested I say go for it.

Another condition, make sure you can realistically afford it. These pagents can get crazy expensive and kids just don't get why adults can't afford certain things. Be realistic, make her stick to a budget and maybe as she gets older it can become a financial lesson as well.

I did lots of acting when I was young. I even went to college and majored in drama (thank goodness I no longer pursue it, but it was a life enriching experience and I believe the communication style I learned over the years and the chance to be a part of a team helps me every day in my work). All that rejection can be good for a child if it is handled properly. Just because she won't win every pagent doesn't mean it won't be fun to dress up and meet friends. It might even help her learn to handle rejection more effectivly as an adult. Everyone knows a child that can't handle rejection because they get everything they want.

I also think that the idea that it is all based on looks is not toally true. There is alot of preperation and follow through required to be successful at pagents. However exposing her to pagents might result in her realizing that the world ISN'T all about looks. It might allow her to come to that conclusion on her own in a very powerful way. When I was in college studying acting I actually had a modeling agent here in NYC. I wasn't terribly tall or terribly thin, but I occasionally got work for hair and makeup shoots and it was a different experience to say the least. I learned that it was a very friviolous industry and that with all the retouching you do to magazine images you can't accept that as reality. I am glad I got the chance to see it from the working side. Now I think I give myself a little more credit for being me, because I know those models all wake up with crusties in their eyes and dark circles and have days where they can't get to work on time, etc. And I also learned that they truly are just living props in someone else's artistic vision. So boring!

You are her mother and you get to frame the experience she is having with your input. You know her personality best. This just might be the doorway to her becoming self reliant and motivated toward being successful in the entertainment business. It just might be 6 months and 3 pagents before she gets bored. Either way, it can be a learning experience and if she really wants to do it, I would seriously consider it.
Good Luck and sorry for the essay.



answers from New York on

I would let her dress up at home. I do not believe in these pageants for
little girls. Creepy to me. I do not know if this exists, but a "natural"
pageant would be great. No fake teeth, hair, eyelashes, just the natural
beauty of a child with some talent and who likes a nice dress.


answers from Charlotte on

If she is interested, I would let her give it a try. I am opposed to the pageants that make little girls wear tons of make-up, false teeth and hair pieces; that's just too much. But if you find a pageant that celebrates a little girls natural beauty and talent, go for it. Just like with any activity (like sports or girl scouts), it teaches children about winning and loosing, discipline and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Good luck



answers from New York on

I think a lot of the interested in pageants in general comes from little kids (girls especially) looking for a place to "show off." I remember large family gatherings--usually around the holidays where all the kids would get a chance to do some little recital (singing, reading, telling stories) in front of the relatives--everyone got their chance to shine. This didn't happen as much when I actually got to "performing age" (well neither did the gatherings . . . ), but I've always felt that these chances for kids to show their talents to people out side of school are important for building confidence and good self-image.

If your daughter wants to dress up and look pretty, look around for some community theater groups. If there aren't any (or maybe she's not into acting), see if there's interest among her friends, classmates (or yours) to put on some recitals, plays, "showcases" or "talent shows". The kids can dress up, read poems, dance, tell stories, give a presentation about something they are interested in, sing or play an instrument. Get the kids in on the planning making the whole thing more cooperative atmosphere than the competitive one created with pageants.

Invite teachers, grandparents, a couple of community members they don't often interact with, etc. that would take an interest in seeing what the kids are doing. Then have a bit of a "social hour" afterwards where they can interact with adults answering questions and talking about their "shows" in a more relaxed way. No winning or losing--just a bit of fun for everyone, while letting the kids share what they can do while socializing with people they don't normally get a chance to.


answers from Kansas City on

i vote don't do it. just my opinion. i don't feel it's a message i would ever want my child to receive, that she isn't a winner because she's not pretty enough. i feel like moms always consider this option not really realizing how much rejection will be involved. there are hundreds of girls at these things, and only a handful who win. especially at 5. that's awful young to be told you're not good enough. i feel like we as moms should be teaching our daughters that they are beautiful and worthy, no matter if every hair is perfectly in place or not. it also costs a LOT of money out of pocket. that's money i would rather use towards my child's education, bills, or even just putting food on the table. you have other children, how could you justify spending so much time and money on just one of them, while not on the others? that's also sending a bad message to your 5 year old, in my opinion. little girls so easily fall into the "diva", self absorbed attitude, seems like it would just feed that little ego more than what's healthy.

what about a dance class or theater? she could get her "performing" fix, even get to play with costumes, hair, and makeup. just a thought.


answers from Dallas on

I have mixed opinions on pagaents. There are some that are completlely legit and others that are strictly money makers. I've not watched the show you spoke of but I have heard about it. If you are having to pay fees to enter (excpet for a nominal fee) then run. My daughter has received "invitations" to compete and basically, you are in if you pay their fees.

That said, I am from a small town and when I was growing up, the pagaent was one of the most popular things for moms and daughters to do. I started when I was around 3 and stopped around age 21 at the state level for Miss America pagaents. The Miss America program is a good program and you can get good scholarship money. I paid for a lot of my college through this program and winning. You don't have to be the top winner all the time to get scholarship money. I modeled at early age and continue to do so occasionally.

After I left the competition, (upon college graduation), I was a preliminary Miss America judge and I went to high schools to judge for competitions which go on to the state level.

It is a lot of fun, it is very competitive, you do get your feelings hurt a LOT. It is costly by the time you add up wardrobe, talent training, speech training and then travel.

I have been in TX since 1989 and I just don't see the opportunity for pageants around here as much. My 15 yr old has never expressed interest. She did grow up dressing up, wearing my heels , my tiaras and sashes. That is as far as she went with her interest with the exception of some modeling. My daughter is 15 very active in her school with Honors classes, cheerleading and orchestra. She didn't lose out by not being in pagaents at all. As for me....it boosted my confidence/stage presence ( I felt held back because I was in such a rural area and HATED it). I do believe the experiences I had with the Miss America program boosted me with my modeling in 4 states and helped me become a successful, confident woman. I am proud that I was in the program and proud of being in my skin. I am one of the more fortunate ones that went through the program.

If your daughter loves it, go for it and see what happens. Just don't put undue pressure on her. I hate seeing a little girl in tears because SHE does not want to be involved, her MOM is trying to live through her. If you keep your perspective about it, which it sounds like you have...you might enjoy it.



answers from Albany on

Personally, I don't agree with pageants such as those you listed. I feel it's so unfair to a child to grow up so fast. It's wonderful and great and is expected for children to dress up and play and all that, but doing pageants, I think it's stinks. I liked one of the posts that suggested to have her in plays and things like that and see if she enjoys it and if she has the talents to be in there, then you want to encourage her to let her talents shine, but those pageants are in my opinion are uncalled for. When she becomes an adult and makes her own decisions then it's up to her but for now, she's only a child. She, of course, does not realize as we do that it's very stressful, time consuming, less time to do what 5 year old should be doing and all that makeup, hair styles, and body movements....no, not what 5 year old should be doing. Let her express her talents and play and pretend and dress up at home. My boys do, with spiderman costume, wearing my husband's boots and so forth. It's great to watch them having fun. Let us know what became of it all.



answers from Jacksonville on

I have a princess who thinks she wants to do pageants too. I say no.
Try cheerleading, dance, or ice skating.
There are some legit pageantries out there but why put yourself through the stress and her through the disappoinment if she doesn't make it.

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