I don’t watch much prime time television. That is when I am reading books, brushing teeth and kissing cheeks. After Simone and Nadia go night-night, I hang around on the channels that help you improve your home, cook a gourmet meal, or otherwise be creative. Lately, I have found myself tuning into the reality shows about the mamas and the little girls they enlist into pageants. There are at least two such shows on cable — Little Miss Perfect and Toddlers and Tiaras.

For the most part, these shows have advanced the stereotype of the stage mother who craves all of the trophies and tiaras she can collect for her little girl. I am amazed parents spend hundreds — even thousands — on dresses, makeup, hair, nails and pageant fees for a chance to win money and receive a little fame. I watch the shows to see if pageants are as bad as I think. I watch to see what kinds of girls Simone and Nadia may encounter as they grow up, and I have to admit I watch to shake my head at how much time and money parents spend preparing for and participating in them. Pageants can be fine, I guess, as long as the child wants to compete and parents allow them to drop out at any time. Some people bond with their children by giving them this kind of attention. As Mom would say, “To each her own.”

We were at a restaurant this week, using a coupon for free cookies Simone and Nadia had received at a children’s event. Of course, I decided to sample the fare and ordered takeout. I mean, that’s why they give free cookies to children, right? While Simone and Nadia charmed us while we waited, I struck up a conversation with an older woman. She wanted to know their ages. Simone loved telling her she used to be 4 and was now 5, while Nadia held up two fingers.  We draw attention when we are out and about, and this time was no different. The girls talked about their sugar cookies, how they couldn’t eat them until after dinner, and spelled the name of the restaurant over and over again.

The woman watched as the two of them played and talked with each other. When her order was ready, she stopped in front of me and lowered her head like she needed to tell me a secret. “You should enter your babies in contests, because they are beautiful.” I smiled and thanked her for the compliment. I wanted to say, I think my girls are beautiful, too. Beauty aside, I would not subject them to that kind of pressure and scrutiny at such a young age.

So, what do you say? Would you allow your little girl to participate in a pageant?

4 thoughts to “Pageants

  • Margaret

    My daughter love Toddlers and Tiaras. I personally would not enter her in pageants though.

  • Bry

    I watch Toddlers and Tiaras only because the women/children on there are ridiculously hilarious. I’m 17 and will be in my 2nd pageant in a few months. I was 2 in my first pageant and despite the fact that I won, my mother said it was a huge pain because I was soo stubborn. I chose to be in this upcoming pageant and I think girls should be at the minimum age of 7, so they can make a wise decision. Theres no harm in trying a pageant, just to see how the child will like it. However when youre so young that you wont remember any of it, its a huge waste, unless you want your child to see themselves have a major melt down and you enjoying it for the sake of a crown 10 years later.

    As far as “beauty” goes, pageants are NOT about beauty at all, no matter the age group. Even the most, “not so beautiful” children become transformed with the power of makeup and hair extensions. I couldn’t recognize half of the girls once they were in “full glitz” and even after, none were truly “beautiful.”

    Pageants are fun and are great confidence builders, the age definitely matters, and beauty doesnt.

  • Nikki

    I have seen maybe 1 full episode of Toddlers and Tiaras and I do not like what I see. I cannot watch the show because it upsets me how some of the parents treat their children. I remember one dad said right in front of his daughter, very visibly upset, “She didn’t win ANYTHING?!?!?” It was sad. I saw a clip from Toddlers and Tiaras or Little Miss Perfect on several different shows, showing the little girl straddling a wolf, and she was little miss riding hood. It was not a good sight.

  • The gold digger

    I don’t have any children, so my opinion is not really relevant, but if I did, I don’t think I would put them in pageants. It seems that pageants teach girls that their value is in their looks. We don’t have pageants for boys – why have them for girls? If an adult woman wants to trade her looks for money, more power to her. I say go! But for a mother to teach her daughter that her value is external – that’s different.

    I had a boss once who wouldn’t let his little girl get her ears pierced. As I had gotten mine pierced when I was in 3rd grade, I didn’t understand. “I don’t want her so focused on her looks at this age,” he explained. Ah. He made sense.

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