Who enters beauty pageants for children

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People who enter beauty pageants for children are part of a booming business

Beauty pageants began in the United States around the 1920s, but it wasnít until the 1960s that children competed in them. Reality television shows featuring young girls in makeup and young boys dancing for a chance at the crown have sparked a new interest in this growing corner of society. 

The first thing many people wonder is who enters beauty pageants for children in the first place. Itís not always easy to tell if itís the child who really wants to compete, or a parent living vicariously. Then again, some kids love to be on stage and get all dolled-up in beautiful formal dresses.  

Can a world filled with sparkles really be so bad? What we see on TV is only ďrealityĒ for the ultra dramatic people who get paid to be in front of the cameras. Taking a closer look at who enters these pageants may help everyone understand why they do it. While most girls may prefer a fun princess party, others have a competitive spirit from a very early age.

What They Win

Every pageant offers different prizes. Often cash and savings bonds are offered for the top winner, as well as prizes they can enjoy right away like toys, electronics and bicycles. Though Miss America and Miss Teen USA are touted as scholarship programs, the costs of registering for the kids pageants combined with other expenses negates small monetary rewards for kidsí competitions and only one child wins.

What They Pay

Itís safe to say that those who enter beauty pageants for children come from families with some disposable income. The registration fee for events is quite high compared to other hobbies that children take up, plus most charge additional fees for every part of the competition entered including Best Eyes, Best Hair and Best Personality.

In addition to paying a professional to do a contestantís hair and makeup, families also buy dresses, shoes and other costumes required for each round. Events with talent portions require lessons and many hours of practice every week. Add this to travel, food and lodging expenses for both the competitor and guardian.

Parent Signature Required

No girl or boy under the age of 18 can enter beauty pageants for children without a legal guardianís permission (and money). Whether itís the daughter or the parent, one side must really want to give it a try to invest the significant amount of time, energy and money that pageants require. Children are far more susceptible to parental pressure than the other way around, but letís hope most competitors are only there because they want to be.  

Why Children Compete

Standing on the outside looking in, beauty competitions for kids are hard to understand. Kids may see these events as opportunities to bond with their mothers, make friends and have some fun on stage. Parents may seem them as a way for her to burn off excess energy and gain self confidence. 

Opponents worry that girls get their feelings hurt when they donít win, and may see it as something wrong with them. So much time goes into practicing their walks, smiling in front of the mirror and even talking a certain way, not to mention the hours spent on their appearance. This is time they could otherwise be playing with friends, doing school work or spending quality time with family.

If visions trophies and high hair start dancing in your childís eyes, ask her what appeals to her about them. It may turn out that her friends like doing them, or that sheís a bit bored and wants to try something new. She may not realize that theyíre a lot more involved than throwing on a dress and waving to the audience. 

Attend a local pageant with your child before entering one just to make sure she wonít lose interest. If itís the glitz and music she likes, perhaps you can steer her to a music or dance lessons instead.

Though most of the attention on the young pageant world is negative, the real people who enter these events want the same thing every parent wants, which is for their kids to be happy and healthy. 

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