The perverted murder of JonBenet is once again headline-wrenching news across the world. My greatest concern is not the death of JonBenet, but the lives of the children who are forced by their parents to participate in child beauty pageants.

I do not believe young children actively decide they want to compete against other children in beauty pageants and if they do, the parents must work to correct that inappropriate expression of prepubescent sexualization of their children and not allow participation in the inappropriate eroticization of childhood that is the underlying tease of those sorts of pageants.

I am always amazed by parents who press their children into beauty pageants because there is an embedded perversion in wanting to help create an idealized image of a mature woman in the body of a five or six-year-old child.

What do child beauty pageants say about those who participate and attend the public sexualization of children who wear grown-up makeup, provocative clothing and age-inappropriate hairstyles?

There is a parental perversion in dismissing the child in her childhood to bend time and strangle circumstance in order to teach a child how to moisten lips, flirt with judges and convey a sexuality that, beyond the beauty pageant stage, would cause great alarm in those vested in providing for the public welfare of children.

Can anyone be surprised that child beauty pageants pander to and attract perverts and pedophiles? Isn’t that the audience those pageants are purposefully serving? Aren’t child beauty pageants that sexualize children really meat markets for pedophiles seeking the purchase of a sexual treat? Mature men and women do not take an interest in the overt sexualization of children idealized as adults.

The pre-determined audience for the parading of a sexual semiotic that is immature, but attempted — and not physically or emotionally comprehended by the child who is only mimicking an erotic meme to please a participating parent — is the pedophile and the pervert.

How can we feign being offended or even concerned when targeted psychotic audience elements positively respond to the tickling of their sexual perversion by biting back after being bitten?


  1. That’s an interesting question, A S. I don’t know the history of child pageants.
    Some argue there are now child pageants that are “non-sexual” in that the children compete without make-up or flirting and I then ask, “Why bother?”
    Why force young children –- and it is the parents forcing them no matter what the parents claim — to compete with each other at such an early developmental age based on beauty, looks and presentation of the self not in everyday life?
    Sexualization of the child or not – the intended exploitation and expectation of performance are identical.

  2. I have never watched beauty pageants of people at any age so I don’t really have a frame of reference.
    I have however heard some people argue that pageants build self-esteem which I would have thought would be the opposite due to the competitive nature and not feeling that one measures up. The argument goes, however, that there are a few children who see a pageant and want to participate feel that if their parents do not allow them to participate their parents must not think they are attractive. I think this may be a weak argument presented by parents who wish to live vicariously through their child or if they themselves were former beauty pageant winners perhaps to relive the “glory days”.
    In relating to my previous question, I wanted to get a sense of whether or not pedophiles were more repressed in earlier generations or if there is simply more media coverage at present.

    1. “ some people argue that pageants build self-esteem”

      Other people argue that self-esteem results from actual accomplishment. It would be hard to maintain that winning a beauty contest is an actual accomplishment for a 7 year old.

      1. Right! Some of these pageants have infants and toddlers who “compete.” These pageants are 100% about the parents and never the children.

  3. I am not a watcher of child beauty pageants either, A S. I have seen several fascinating documentaries on the process. Those documentaries are incredible and sad. The children are exploited no matter what some pageant people claim.
    I agree with you pageants only build parental self-esteem and not child well-being. To force children so early in their lives to compete with other children for trophies and prizes is inexcusable.
    There is, I believe as you believe, that there is a vicarious “living-through-the-child” to confirm lost affection and missed sexuality in the parent of the child beauty pageant competitor.
    I think pedophiles have been with us forever but access to the object of their affection is made simpler with these parades of children pretending to be something they are not — and that plays directly into the perversion of the fantasy.

  4. Beauty pagents for children always strike me as being bizarre.
    I cringe every time I see JonBenet prancing around on the cable news show clips.
    And, it’s not because I can image how unbearable it would be to be around all of the fake two-faced stage-moms air kissing everyone while muttering curses upon their girl’s competition sotto voce.
    I always think that the parents are exploiting their kids when they foist strange and sometime humilating competitions upon them.
    Mothers want to relieve their youthful glory days when they didn’t have crows’ feet, and cellulite on their derrier and all the boys came a-courting.
    The same thing happens when fathers coach Little League teams so that winning is more important than anything else in life, including good sportmanship, so that they can feel the glory that they once had (or maybe never had).
    Kids need to be able to be kids.
    Dressing girls up for beauty contests, or manipulating Little League game strategy to produce wins at the expense of the kid’s fun doesn’t help our nation’s youth.
    The parents are compensating for something they feel is lacking in their lives.
    I can understand older women wanting to participate in beauty pageants. I have no problem with that. But, little girls don’t have the ability to make that choice when they are pushed into competitions by their stage-parents.
    But, let’s let kids be kids for the short amount of time they have in their childhood.
    Since this is such a “downer” topic, here’s a picture of a frog giving a mouse a ride on his back to bring a smile to your face. Here’s how Reuter’s Robert Basler describes it: “Here’s the sweetest picture you’ll see all week. Send it to someone who will appreciate it…”

  5. I find the whole idea of child beauty pagents repugnant. I dislike intensly the sexualisation of children.
    I also find it sad that some people have to live their lives through their children in such a manner. It happens in most sports and activities these days – I have met “them” in the gym, the theatre and the swimming pool.

  6. Very interesting topic and I’m happy to see it being discussed.
    I too feel that child pageants are perverse in nature. I also strongly feel this is a heinous display of parenting. A child is a child under 18 and should be treated as such. Parents should be helping their children concentrate their efforts to better their education and expand their cultural experiences.
    The other side not yet discussed is the number of non-winners. How emotionally devastating it must be; for an impressionable young girl who goes home at the end of the night with the knowledge that they were not pretty enough to be the winner.
    As parents, we sometimes fail to realize that our past is over and we use our children as our second chance. Instead of nurturing our children’s’ goals and likes, we tend to lead them down a path of what we think we know. I use “think we know” intentionally. How many of us were taught by our father how to throw a baseball and in turn taught your child to throw the same way. Did you ever confirm that throwing that way was actually correct and not damaging? Probably not.
    Pageantry is wrong and promotes sexual perversion. The 6 year old female body hasn’t even begun to develop. So why do we dress them up to look 19 and push them out on the stage dressed in a bikini?
    I too have never watched a pageant so ignorance is mine for the keeping. And I am proud of my decision not to endorse or promote such disgusting parental behavior.

  7. Dave —
    A agree the pageant mentality begins young in life and the South seems to support the idea more than other areas of the country.
    It looks like you dropped and went back to Blogger. What happened?
    Your full frontal looks terribly sad. It was better imagining a smile behind your Gravatar.

  8. Chris —
    I agree there is a strange “stage mother” mentality at work here in the pageants and even in Hollywood. I have yet to see a stage mother NOT claim the whole idea was the child’s.
    I would argue that any child that desires fame over playing and showing off over running around with friends and family is not being led down the correct path of life by those born to guide them.
    It is the parent’s job to correct false hope and debilitating behavior — the trouble comes with the parents instigate the hopes and prop up the behaviors — and the loser is always the child.

  9. Nicola —
    I think you are right that the broken dreams of parents often lead to shattered lives in their children.
    Too often parents see their children as a second chance at life in re-claiming the glory they were never able to achieve on their own and they falsely think they have an advantage in the second time around through their children because they are smarter and taller and stronger and they know where the mistakes were made.
    The problem is the child is then never allowed to make a mistake they own because the parents either heal the problem or shoo them off the merits of picking yourself up after a non-life threatening error in judgment.
    Parenting is just as much as learning when to keep your hands to yourself as it is offering up a helping hand.

  10. Well said, Cryptic! We agree and almost entirely speak with the same vocabulary on this matter!
    Young children are sponges that soak in every experience. They don’t have the cunning or the experience to quickly filter the good from the bad and so they absorb everything equally and that openness can be wonder if it is not exploited in a bad way.
    Would you want your young child to have the values of a beauty pageant contestant where falsity and surface beauty and stage prancing win trophies?
    Is there elegance in losing or is there only wounding and tears?
    These pageants are made to pick winners and, in turn, determine losers. To not measure up to your peers at six-years-old is devastating in any culture and to “beat” your peers at the same tender age in a competition like a beauty pageant sets up a false sense of self-worth and a temporary confidence that does not measure up in the everlasting real world where deeds and doing can have more importance than a smile and a shoeshine.

  11. “To force children so early in their lives to compete with other children for trophies and prizes is inexcusable.” Is this in reference to just pageants or also to some competitive sports which may actually build self esteem but may again be the parents’ trying to live through the children.

  12. “Would you want your young child to have the values of a beauty pageant contestant where falsity and surface beauty and stage prancing win trophies?”
    Not a chance, Dave. I strive to deliver to my children a more realistic approach to life and more importantly to humanity. There’s a strong competitive desire in children that needs attention almost constantly. My goal is to nurture the more important ideals; fair play, teamwork, and self discipline. If they find that they are better at certain tasks, then I expect them to share that knowledge to bring their peers up instead of seeking glory as an individual all star, which could negatively impact the peer. I also let them make their own choices, within reason. This allows them to learn from their own mistakes.
    The caveat to that is.. When they mature to adults, dad gets to say (in a joking manner) “remember that time…” lol
    “Is there elegance in losing or is there only wounding and tears?”
    That all depends on the child’s up bringing. A child who is taught that 100 percent effort can never be beat may take the loss as a lesson on areas needing improvement.
    Speaking directly to this topic; effort is not the name of this perverse game. I fail to see any area(s) where a 6 year old can leave the stage saying to them self “next time I going to do X better.”

  13. Hi David,
    One “beauty contest drop-out” calls the child pageants scams.
    Writes Amanda Angelotti:

    To be sure, I do not defend all pageants.
    Some are entirely without merit.
    The Jon-Benet-style contests I entered as a child are decided almost exclusively on the basis of appearance. Winners earn little more than a gaudy tiara and a 5-foot trophy, and the pageant directors walk away with a ton of cash bilked from gullible parents who unfailingly believe – and try to prove – that their child is just the cutest kid in the whole world.

  14. A S —
    That quote was directed to child beauty pageants because they focus so much on inappropriate sexuality and that, to me, is a gross sin of a caretaker against an innocent.
    I agree that quote could also apply to competitive sport but since the ideals of sport are a bit more age-appropriate than a beauty pageant — a six-year-old isn’t expected to run as fast or to have the same sort of musculature or ability as an adult — it isn’t as offensive. I do agree parents live vicariously through their children in sports.

  15. Hi Chris —
    Aren’t most of these “competitive” shows mainly moneymakers for the organizers?
    I can think of Cat Shows, Cheerleader Competitions, Talent Contests and Script Writing Contests as examples of “contests” where the entrance fees cover much more than the cost of the prize and actually line the silver pockets of the organizers as a money making enterprises.

  16. Just think about all the make-up and clothing that is probably sold as part of the events, as well. And, I bet the contestants probably stay at the same hotel and have to eat a couple of meals set up by the organizers.
    It’s has the makings of a huge scam.
    People’s vanity results in lost money.
    I took a look at a contest and there are fees, upon fees:
    A mandatory model search fee, along with optional fees for the following contests:
    – beauty
    – attire
    – smile
    – eyes
    – hair
    – photogenic w/extra charges for extra photos entered
    They also sell all sorts of crowns and tiaras, as well.
    Here’s an except from an interesting story in The Harvard Gazette about “The Whys and Woes of Beauty Pageants.”

    It’s not cheap to show off your child’s beauty. Parents typically spend between $100-$200 on pageant clothing, although some pay as much as $1,000 for a gown.
    Pageant fees cost another $100-$200 per contest, and the 41 mothers who Levey interviewed competed in an average of five pageants during the past year. In addition, those with higher incomes may hire someone to do the child’s hair, or a pageant coach to give their child an extra advantage.
    One mother told Levey: “I know people who have spent so much on pageants, they lost their trailers.”
    Of about 120 “beauties” Levey saw, five or six were boys. One mother said she puts her son in pageants because he likes being on stage and to have people clap for him. “It gives him confidence,” she said.
    Gaining poise and confidence is cited most often by parents as the reason for putting their child into these contests. “She learns skills such as going out in a crowd, not to be shy, and to be herself while people are watching and focusing on her,” one mother noted.
    “You see this a lot among people on the lower-income and education scales,” Levey comments. “They want their kids to learn skills that are needed to move up the social scale.”
    One mother put it this way: “I want my child to be aware that there’s always going to be somebody better than her. It’s a hard thing to learn – it was for me – and I want her to start early.”

  17. Chris —
    Thanks for confirming the ugly underbelly of these pageants. There’s nothing quite like paying hundreds of dollars to confirm for your child that they’ll never measure up to everyone else.

  18. For the “stage mothers” mentioned earlier in this thread, if it really is the children that want to feel pretty by being in a pageant, why not let them create their own private runway in the comfort of ones own living room. Children have a great capacity for make-believe?

  19. A S —
    Right! Build self-esteem from within the family unit first. That kind of loving structure would play well with a child.
    There’s no need to put a child on public display when what children need are opportunities to observe and participate and evaluate without having to win or lose in that early formation of a person.

  20. I am in the process of writing a post about child beauty pageants after seeing an article in the New York Times today. In doing further research I ran across your blog which I will link to when I’m done. Excellent!
    I find the child pageant phenomenon to be so disgusting I can hardly write about it.

  21. Hi konagod!
    Welcome to the blog!
    Thanks for your comment and for letting us know how you found us.
    I look forward to reading your article! Be sure to come back here and let us know when it’s published!

  22. I speak as a parent of two beautiful children 18 (yes I still consider her a child) and a son 14 and to me they are the MOST beautiful in the world, and frankly that’s all that should matter. I don’t care what Joe Bloe down the road thinks of my kids, as long as they are always respectful, not in trouble with the law and are kind decent human beings then I am happy.
    I entered my daughter in a pageant here (it is purely to raise money for the Endeavour Foundation an organisation that helps with disabled children) at the time she was 4 yrs old and I taught her that she was not up there being judged she was there to represent the children who did not have the same opportunites as her, she was their voice (this pageant for want of a better word involves fundraising that is it, no parading in swim wear, evening gowns etc or talent contest) I think there are very few real beauty pageants here in Australia and that is a blessing. I entered my son in Baby Contests when he was little, entires like Cutest Smile, Brightest Eyes.. he won a great deal of prizes and trophies but I ended up discontinuing as I realised where in his future life would he need this, it had no place in it.
    Both my children have been taught that as long as you love yourselves and your fellow man then you are going to be a healthy happy person in society, they have been taught compassion, empathy and tolerance to others less fortunate than themselves, and I am proud to say I have done this as a single Mum.
    I think pageants should be more about what a child/person can offer as a human being not on an exterior image. I do enjoy watching what is telecast here The Miss USA Pageant, Miss World and Miss Universe but our pageants here are nothing to the ones in America.

  23. Hi,
    I have a very disturbing story to tell.
    I work in the adult retail industry and have an internet cafe at our workplace. What we sell is adult product to adults. What we also do is pro-actively monitor the movements of suspected child-porn users and report them to the appropriate authorities and take action on illicit sites being viewed on the world wide web.
    What I do know for a fact that there are people viewing “perfectly legal” websites exploiting small children in provocative clothing for the purposes of sexual gratification. These children are displayed as sexual objects in clothing that would befit a stripper or a cheerleader or an object of sexual desire. The common thread of these children are that they are regularly paraded in these so called beauty pageants.
    As reprehensible as it is that these sites are being viewed by predators, it is more disgusting that the parents of these children allow it in the first place. These sites and children’s beauty pageants should be banned!
    We are not talking about the suburban shopping centre baby shows here people. We are talking about the blatant exploitation of innocent children by parents that probably didn’t cut it as a models themselves.
    For Gods sake, let our kids be kids. Leave the pretty hair and a little bit of make up for a special occasion, like a birthday party or a wedding, not to parade them for all to see and for some to lust over.
    Thank goodness this type of child exploitation hasn’t taken off in Australia. The outcry from parents all over the country would be loud and clear.
    Leave the erotic dress up for the adults!

  24. Hi Gina!
    Thank you for your excellent and thoughtful comment.
    I completely agree with you on all counts.
    I am fascinated by parents who insist on putting ANY image of their children online. I guess the need to celebrate “look what I made!” is more powerful than “look what I should protect from the public eye.”
    I linked my “Take Your Children Offline NOW” article in this article, but here’s the URL again just because you so rightly re-addressed the issue:

  25. From Today’s NYTimes:

    Today, pedophiles go online to seek tips for getting near children — at camps, through foster care, at community gatherings and at countless other events. They swap stories about day-to-day encounters with minors. And they make use of technology to help take their arguments to others, like sharing online a printable booklet to be distributed to children that extols the benefits of sex with adults.
    The community’s online infrastructure is surprisingly elaborate. There are Internet radio stations run by and for pedophiles; a putative charity that raised money to send Eastern European children to a camp where they were apparently visited by pedophiles; and an online jewelry company that markets pendants proclaiming the wearer as being sexually attracted to children, allowing anyone in the know to recognize them.
    These were the findings of a four-month effort by The New York Times to learn about the pedophiles’ online world by delving into their Internet communications. In recent months, new concerns have emerged about whether the ubiquitous nature of broadband technology, instant message communications and digital imagery is presenting new and poorly understood risks to children. Already, there have been many Congressional hearings on the topic, as well as efforts to write comprehensive legislation to address the issue.

  26. I have just been reading all your comments and I agree with them all. It has only been since this case was in the news this week that I learnt of child beauty pageants and the sickness within them.
    I have a beautiful daughter of 4 and a gorgeous son of nearly 3, and the thought of either of them, especially my daughter, dressed up like a slut at that tender age, makes me sick.
    Here in the UK you can buy many dressup outfits for young children, fairy tale characters, princesses, etc, you can get makeup for little girls, etc, but it is there purely for play, for that time when the little girl wants to emulate her mother for a while or pretend to be Snow White. At preschool and nursery they keep dressup clothes so that the children can “dress up” and pretend to be whoever. It’s just that, though, play.

  27. Hi Madeline!
    Welcome to the blog and thank you for your beautiful comment! I am so glad you are aware of your children and you care enough to protect them from bad public influences while allowing them to privately enjoy their childhood.

  28. I have been reading all of the above comments. While I agree that babies should not be dressed up like mini adults and prance around like showgirls, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the natural pageants. Yes, that is competetion, just like in sports. There is a lot to be gained by the events if done correctly. My little girl has done several pageants and does love the attention. I don’t spend thousands of dollar nor do I push her. I agree she is really not old enough to say this is what she wants to do, but she does love her trophies and crowns. (not to mention has made quite a contribution to her savings account) I do want to say I am from the south and proud of that. I am not trying to live through my child, we just like to have fun. After all of the Jon Benet stuff pageants just get such a negative view, and they are not all like that. But just for the record, it doesn’t matter if you put you kids in pageants, plays, etc. There are going to always be the derranged perverts and pedifiles, and instead of blaming pageants, we as parents need to protect our children by knowing where they are and who there with at all times.

  29. I agree with stephanie, also most of the commenting here is pretty biased and uneven. I don’t think these people are desperatly tring to live through their kids or sexualize them or anything terribly negitive, and the whole “people from the south are stupid” aspect presented is pretty childish. I don’t think these parents have any negitive intentions, that article (liked in here somewhere) that was written by the sociologist was pretty fair. and really didn’t go on and on about the sexuality of children, besides if children shouldn’t be sexualized then they shouldn’t be desexualized either. It dosen’t make sence to me that a pedophile would want a child to appear adult, and as stephanie said perverts will be around either way, isn’t it more common for children to be exposed to such evils through family and family friends? from what I’ve been seeing in the media lately expesialy with the JonBenet maddness most pedophiles try get alone time with children though babysitting or schooling? I’m sure these pagents atract less perverts than the average middle school or elementary school. it’s all rather sensational and biased. the more scientific study didn’t seem to find the parents to be harming there children in any extrem or obvius way, I personally would have rather been in a pagent than put on ritalin durring the ADD “epidemic” of the 90’s (even notice the symptoms for ADD in children are the attributes of EVERY board intellegent child?)

  30. These pageants where the children dress in high heels with mascara are made up to look grotesque. But normally I think these these are silly but innocent in nature.
    IT is tragic when a child is murdered of course, but in this case there is no proof that it had anything to do with her being a contestant in such contests.
    If you find this event tragic say so. If you don’t think children should do these pageants, say so. But to say the latter in the same sentence as the former, is just wrong.

  31. Here’s an example of standards/judging instructions from a “natural” pageant:
    [Content deleted by David W. Boles due to issues of Copyright ownership.]
    My bottom line: I have no problem with this. I find it interesting that many of your commenters above have not *BEEN* to a pageant — I actually went to one, to see what it was about. I have no kids to exploit — the worst I ever did was show my cat at a couple shows. Which I did until he mauled a judge (they assured me they’re used to it) and decided that he was happier being a housecat and rolling around in the driveway oil slick every so often. So that was the end of his career (he has four rosettes to show for it, best he did was a 5th out of 11).
    Anyway, the pageant was interesting — I don’t think it’s as big a deal in California as elsewhere, and I think that’s large part of it. There are a lot more societal opportunities for children to shine and grow up to become what they want, from a variety of life choices. Yes, California (particularly Southern) has its skewed image of “beauty beauty beauty,” but 95% of us are just regular Joes and Janes, just like everywhere else. At the pageant, there was a broad (if you’ll pardon the expression) range of ages, body types, sizes (including plus sizes) and just people. It was like watching a play or something — if they didn’t have a hotel room at the site, people had a green room to dress and makeup in. They trotted out for about 30 seconds and did their thing, and won tiaras and prizes or whatever. The bare-minimum entry fee was $50, you could wear just nice Sunday-best clothing if you wanted, and particularly if you were an older (and/or fatter…no flames please, I am plus-size myself) competitor, the likelihood of you winning SOMETHING was pretty good. The kids I saw were pretty quiet, did their own thing, got their ‘good clothes’ on when it was getting close to time to go on stage, did their turns, then went back, and sat quietly with their families or talking and playing with the other kids, until it was time for judging.
    That was it. No super high-glitz barbie-doll dead-eyed girls, no baby-r*ping sh*t eaters, no dirty old men (that I know of), it was pretty much just a thing to do on a weekend. Most of the kids had both parents with them, along with sometimes siblings and grandparents.
    I don’t think any kid under 7 needs to be doing this. But it seemed to me like the 7-to-teens were having a good time dressing up, I didn’t see any meltdowns, and the competing moms/older women were treating it with the appropriate level of non-relevance other than something amusing to do. I know that this is not the case in some pageants throughout the rest of the country, and it’s too bad.

  32. david, you’ve seen this documentary, right? i made myself watch all nine parts, and felt sick during and afterwards.
    the guy whose blog this is taken from is an *sshole, btw. child beauty pageants are heartbreaking, exploitative, abusive, and, as you mentioned, are ripe fodder for pedophiles. this sh*t is not funny or entertaining, and i don’t happen to think that jokes about it are funny in the least. but, i am glad that this yahoo uploaded the documentary; since i’ve never had cable, and the documentary isn’t commercially available, i would probably have never seen it otherwise, and i would not have been as aware of all the minute and ugly details of child beauty pageants.
    these types of pageants should be OUTLAWED. period. although i don’t know if that would stop a lot of parents.
    how can we stop this? what can we do? i personally think that parents who do this sh*t should lose custody of their children, but i know that will never happen……
    i am so angry about this….

  33. While I agree that SOME pageant systems are not good for children, I think it is up to the parent to do their homework and decide that if what that particular pageant is about is what they want for their child.
    My daughter has participated in pageants since she was a baby. She still participates today (she is nearly 18) because she enjoys the friendships and the activity and the fun of competing. Her teachers have commented on what a nice, well rounded young lady she is, she is humble, helpful, kind to her friends, yet confident and knows what she wants out of life. She has learned interviewing skills and how to deal with people from all walks of life. She also has public speaking skills beyond her age. Through pageants she has done much community service and has had doors open for her she would likely never have had if she had not been involved in pageants. She was never forced to do a pageant and knew that she could quit the activity at any time. To her, pageantry was no different than a dance recital or a soccer game. (which by the way she also does) You win some, you lose some. She has always had a great attitude.
    By the way speaking of dance recitals…have you seen the clothing those children wear, and the amount of makeup they use? Also the shaking of ones body in the form of dance is equally as provacative as what some do in pageants. I am certainly no knocking dance or sports but I guess I am just tired of the double standard here. Its okay to put your hair up and wear makeup and shake your booty in a dance recital but it isn’t okay to do it at a pageant. If you think pageant parents are bad…go to a child soccer, rocket football, baseball/softball game. I have yet to run into parents at pageants who are worse than sports parents.
    A lot of pageants have optional contests such as speech(writing their own speech, memorizing it and saying it on stage) talent, which is where they can showcase their dance, vocal, or acting skills. There is also photogenic contest for their pictures. Some have creative writing contests, scrapbook contests, coloring contests to name a few.
    Bottom line is, you as a parent have to make the right decision for your child and you also have to set the example. I am so tired of the media dogging pageants as a whole! If they would seek out the good ones and follow some of the great kids who truly enjoy this activity, for a change and not the bad ones, they would shed some light on what this is truly about…children having fun, making friends and life long relationships and learning good, positive lifeskills. But, I guess that wouldn’t be newworthy! Sad for the good pageants and the great kids!
    Please, let little JonBennet Ramsey rest in PEACE. She was a beautiful, delightful child and her participation in a very few pageants was NOT what killed her. There are many more children kidnapped and molested off the street than in connection with any pageant. Just remember that there are tons of things that can damage a child emotionally, it is up to you as a parent to make sure that no matter what activity you choose to allow your child to be a part of, that you protect them, support them and let them know that you love them no matter what.

  34. The people that think pageants and little league are stupid probably are more wrapped up in their own selves and couldn’t appreciate the fact that some parents enjoy activities with their children other than the norm. Sexualization of children is an inevitable turn of nature. Girls that compete in these pageants, if taught to appreciate the competition can have a healthy self esteem no matter the outcome of the judging. We are by nature sexual creatures at any age, what do most parents want to know before the birth, THE SEX OF THE BABY. I little paint on someone’s face never hurt them. And I’ve seen little girls at the pool in less clothing than the pageant contestants. So don’t just talk about pageants, address all forms of sexualization….how about the BRATZ and BARBIE dolls sold at your local Walmart? Don’t those promote sexulization….boycott them if you have such strong feelings. Get off your soap box and “live and let live!”….

  35. Hi there, well I am one of those “horrible” pageant moms!!!! But before you jump on me with tons of questions, I’ll explain why I put my girls in pageants.. My oldest daughter is now 5, last year her best friend won Little Miss _____ County (which was the 2nd year in a row). My daughter saw her in parades wearing her crown and wanted one too. I told her I would just buy her one but she wanted to be in parades as a “queen.” So she competed in the same pageant as her friend. She didn’t win the crown, only the talent portion. She then won first place for sining at a county fair (beating a 9 year old). At that point, she decided she just wanted to sing on stage!!! She didn’t care much about the crown, but singing. So I searched and searched to find her more talent shows to enter, but there just aren’t that many where we live.
    Then I found antoher pageant online. She and her little sister, who was 2 years old at the time, entered and both won titles!! My oldest, got excited and wanted to enter another, so she did and she won again! This time she won the Grand Talent title over all ages!!!
    She did a few parades, did a lot of community service as Little Miss Austin Grand Talent Queen and then competed for Little Miss ____ County again. She didn’t win the crown, but won the talent portion again and won Cover Girl so she’s representing the pageant for 2007-2008.
    Then this last weekend, the Texas State pageant was in Austin. She wanted to compete enough though I was worned by other pageant moms that it would be a real tough group of girls to beat. I explained that to her, but at age 5, I don’t think she really got it. When I spoke to the pageant director, she asked if I would enter my other two girls as well.. the pageant would be televised and she wanted more contestants! She gave me a good deal, so I entered all 3 (5 years, 3 years and 17 months).
    My 3 year old got 3rd runner up which shocked me because she was the only one not in a pageant dress. My baby competed with babies that had eye liner on! I couldn’t believe that. One of the 3 year olds that competed, danced! She danced well, if she were 20… she looked like she was missing her pole. My oldest daughter said she liked her dance and I told her she couldn’t dance like that until she was old enough to be a striper because that’s what the little girl looked like. The girl that beat my oldest daughter in talent, danced very well. I was impressed until she turned her back to the judges and shook.. no vibrated her butt cheeks!!! I felt sick!
    My girls are beautiful.. they are natural… I put a little bit of makeup on them for that pageant but nothing like those other girls. Some were even air brushed. The girls that won pranced around on stage with more makeup that Mimi on the Drew Carry show and with bigger hair than Dolly in glitzy pageant dresses that cost $500-$2,000. I knew it would be that way.. but I refused to do that to my children.
    I guess I was hoping the judges would make an exception and crown a child that actually looked 5 and 3! I was wrong! What started as fun for her, to sing on stage and gain confidence (she was under the impression that she was ugly) has turned into something she don’t want to do anymore.
    My oldest, she don’t want to compete in pageants anymore but not because she didn’t win. She would go up to all the girls that won and tell them congrats! After each girl danced or sang, even the ones competing with her, she would go tell them good job or that she thought they were pretty or thier dress was pretty. My daughter… out of the 80 that competed was the ONLY one that was NICE. These other girls, the most they said back to my daughter was, “Yeah thanks” as they walked away. One little girl even said, “I know” when my daughter said she was pretty!
    Then another pageant mom told me about another pageant in a different town that wasn’t a glitzy pageant. It is based on facial beauty, poise and an interview. Then for older girls, they have to have a talent. That’s more of what I would rather my girls be in.
    My oldest daughter wears her bigger crown around the house (she has two) and pretends to be in parades. Then she reads stories to her dolls and pretends to have “meetings just like Mommie.” She wants to make a difference in this world, she wants to help people, she says she wants to be a nurse when she grows up!
    So… not ALL child beauty pageants are bad… some are actually based on beauty and personality and not the glitz and gamour like what you see on TV. The first pageant my daughter was in was “sunday dress”… it wasn’t fancy, just what she wears to Church. I do not agree with the kind of pageants you’re talking about.. but please realize that not all pageants are that way. And pageants do built self-esteem as does sports and dance or whatever. My daughter is a better person, more understanding and happier now that she has competed. Of course she won twice, but she’s lost 3 and she’s not upset about it. She’s a good sport and that’s what these pageants are meant to do…whether they do or not.. it has a lot to do with the parent’s attitudes towards the winning and losing also!
    ok that’s enough rambling for today…. 🙂

  36. Hi! My name is Kim and I’m a Producer at THE MONTEL WILLIAMS SHOW in NY. We are working on a show about Child Beauty Pageants and are looking for parents to share their stories and/or opinions. Please e-mail me ASAP at and tell your story/opinion, and leave your contact info. Thanks!

  37. I have to say I don’t think EVERY beauty pageant is really about the sexualization of little girls. I participated in a couple in my hometown when I was growing up. Wore no makeup. Wore normal clothes, not super fancy ones. A one piece swim suit with a torn seam. I won first place. It wasn’t really a negative contest. Everybody there got an award. Everybody there was just a cutie little girl not dressed up all pretty. More about giving confidence to the girls because everybody won. Maybe not everywhere, for sure. But at least in my case, the pageant wasn’t really a negative thing. It was fun!

  38. ALL children are beautiful just by virtue of being children. They are people, no – they are CHILDREN, and at all costs should be protected and honored. When they are 18, they can choose, and if you’ve done your job well, they will choose NOT to enter into a contest based on physical appearances. If they want to showcase their talents they can enter a talent contest. If you want to teach them poise and public speaking, try an acting class. When they are 18, they can choose to dance, act, sing, or otherwise, sans clothing and in full drag-makeup, whatever – but until then, they’re OFF LIMITS. Is a tacky (albiet sparkly)crown really worth the cost(s)? So, the child “begs” to compete “Mommy, I reaaaaalllyyyy waaaaaant the crown!” – Well, Mommy, DO YOUR JOB – find out why they “really want the crown,” and what you can do to foster that same feeling and fulfill that need without EXPOSING them! PROTECT THEM. PROTECT THEM. PROTECT THEM. AT ALL COSTS, AND IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE, PROTECT THEM!

  39. I am not a supporter of child pageants, however it seems like they get alot of bad media. Aren’t they comparable to putting a boy in football or any other sport? There is real physical danger there, and some parents condition their boy to play football from a very young age. Are these parents not using their chldren for ther own selfish reasons? How many kids have died from sports related injuries? Many more than have died from participating in pageants I would assume. I feel that it is just lke any other extracurricular activity…if a child wants to do it then fine, if they don’t then don’t force them. Also, there are many sports, cheerleading, classes etc that cost a good amount of money. Pageants are expensive…but if you can afford it and your child wants to do it, what is the big problem?

  40. Trudy —
    Yes, having children play contact sports before their bodies are developed is physically unwise — just as the pre-adolescent sexualization of young girls wearing adult makeup and bathing suits in competition is emotionally abusive.

  41. I don’t understand how a mother and father could want their little girl to parade around in a bathing suit to be judged by perverted men.what kind of parent does that its sick.and the men who judge them are sick. Parents are supposed to protect their children not dress them up like adults and parade them around in front of ggrown men. im so lucky to have a husband that loves our daughter so much and protects her.

  42. Parents of beauty pageant children are in a league all their own. They only see the “title’s and tiara’s”. Nobody thinks of this innocent activity to show off the parent’s perfect child to be an issue that may harm a child’s self-esteem or promote eating disorders down the road. Most parent’s after seeing the cost associated with pageantry, one or two and they usually figure out that is costly and this may help save their child from damages down the road.

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