Thoughts on Pageants and Raising Daughters

The show “Toddlers and Tiaras” has brought pageantry into the limelight.  I’ve saw it discussed over and over in the blogosphere.  Where I live, pageants are no big thing.  They aren’t anything like you see on that show either though.

I took part in my first beauty pageant before I could even walk.  I attended at least one pageant a year all the way through sixth grade.  I was a confident young girl and I almost always placed well.  Once, I remember taking part in a casual pageant. I was in the fourth or fifth grade and I wouldn’t let my mom choose my outfits.  The pageant went okay, but I was definitely not as dressed up as the other girls.  I probably should have listened to my mom.  I came home and my dad, of course, asked how it went.  I told him I placed third and he congratulated me.  Then, I broke the news that there were only three girls in my division.  So, in essence, I placed last.  I didn’t care though and it didn’t bother me at all.  That was the worst I ever placed, but if it had been a reoccurring event, I’m sure it would have bothered me.

I’m not most girls.

All of my years in pageants didn’t scar me.  I don’t cry over them, but then again, I never left one empty handed either.

Now that I have a daughter, that’s what I think about.  For each girl that leaves with a trophy and a tiara, there’s one that leaves in tears.

Not only that, but I plan to teach my daughter that “you don’t judge a book by it’s cover!”  Isn’t that exactly the message behind a beauty pageant?

If my daughter flat out asks me to be in a pageant, I will absolutely try to talk her out of it.  I’ll explain that she is beautiful and I don’t need a pageant judge to tell me so.  I will also explain that even if she wins, that means another girl loses.  While we do have to teach our children to lose gracefully and to be a good sport,  pageantry doesn’t involve skill and it certainly isn’t a sport.  Well, I guess walking in heels could be considered a skill.  Anyways, what I’m saying is that true beauty is natural.  It isn’t something we can practice for hours and then win at, you know?

I just don’t understand why we want to send that kind of message to our children.  I want my daughter to know that her natural hair color is beautiful.  Her skin color, whether it is pale or dark, it’s beautiful.  She doesn’t need dye or a spray on tan to be beautiful.  She doesn’t need to wear a “flipper” to cover up her snaggle-tooth grin.

Our girls have enough to worry about in this day and age without being thrown on stage to be judged by their outer beauty.  You can’t check out at the grocery store without seeing magazines plastered with air-brushed “perfect” women.  You can’t turn on the TV without seeing provocative and sexual shows- even on regular TV.  It’s sickening.

I know I can’t protect my little girl forever, but I’m absolutely going to give it my best shot.  Saying no to pageants and teaching my daughter to have self confidence is just one step.

What do you think about pageants?

All comments are welcome.  I love a healthy discussion, but please be respectful.



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  • Its crazy. I cant watch Toddlers & Tiaras. I wouldnt care for Mar to be in a pageant, she has before, but the extremities that the parents take it to on that show is disgusting. To me, theyre exploiting theyre children and only trying to live vicariously through them.

  • the little girls in toddlers and tiaras are exploited by TLC to generate ad revenue and that sickens me. I refuse to watch it. I don’t think they even have pagents where I live (Calgary Canada) and if they did I sure as heck wouldn’t let my daughter participate. She is gorgeous and I don’t need anyone putting any doubts about that in her mind.

  • I do not watch this show but I have heard about it (a lot).
    I am not really a fan of pageants for children. I do like the casual ones where every child gets a prize, but that those are few and far between these days.

  • I could not agree more. The things that they do to these poor little girls do nothing but tell them that they are not good enough as they are. It is sad and makes me so very happy that I have boys.

  • I was in ONE pageant — a local one in our town. It was for high school girls and was a “scholarship pageant” .. there wasn’t a swim suit portion (thank Goodness), but it did have your typical interview, talent, and evening wear components.

    I ended up winning and getting a $1000 scholarship, which I saved to buy books when I ended up going to college.

    That type of pageant, I don’t mind.

    But, the pageants shown on T&T make me uneasy. They are too over the top and are full of pressure for those little girls. Not a fan.

  • I’m not a fan. The moms I know who put their daughters in it don’t give them a choice, and don’t let them quit. I guess I haven’t seen a good side to it yet.

  • I prefer natural pagents. That being said we don’t do them really b/c it’s not something my daughter is interested in. We did dance last year but this year she doesn’t want to. I think the problem lies in when it becomes more for the mom than the daughter. Would I have loved Bella to be back in dance this year b/c I took it for 15 years absolutely but she didn’t want to so that was that and we moved on after she finished the commitment she made. Pageants are getting a bad name and becoming worse because of those crazy moms when it really should be about the little girl. If it is hurting the little girls confidence then yes they absolutely shoudl not be doing it, the last thing we need today is another thing to tear down girls. I am not against them at all but when they are for the mom or hurting a little girls self esteem then it’s enough

  • I would def not put Annalea in a large regional pageant but I think the school pageants are ok. If she came to me and asked to try one out (at an older age) I think I would have to say ok, because i make sure my daughter understands there is nothing out there that she cant accomplish if she puts her all into it. I was in pageants, when I was older, and actually feel they helped my confidence terribly. But my mother always gave me free will. I was never pushed into it, or forced at an early age like those girls on the show. All in all I think its what emphasis you put on it. I think those moms are putting to much pressure on those kids and they will resent it instead of embracing the experience in the long run.

  • I refuse to watch Toddlers. It worries me that some parents push their kids so hard for something that I don’t really now has that much value for a very young child (maybe different for older children who can form their own opinion). The one that really scares me though is the dancing moms show with the really mean dance coach who just yells at everyone…As someone who has worked with kids in the past it just appalls me that she thinks it’s a good way to get through to children… is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to