Photo Credit: Nina Shannon/iStockSpray tans for 5-year-olds? A flipper (a row of fake teeth) for a 6-year-old who was just visited by the tooth fairy? Enough hair extensions and make-up for a Vegas show girl being used on a girl who may not even know how to tie her shoes yet? Welcome to the world or child beauty pageants. One mom on "Toddlers & Tiaras" gives a rundown on all the prep work involved to compete in the pageants. WATCH THE VIDEO HERE
Pageant moms argue that these competitions are fun for the girls and teach them poise and confidence. The girls on the show seem to be second or third generation "pageant girls" raised by moms who competed, but what if your daughter actually comes to you wanting to compete?
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"As a child, I was literally dying to be in pageants," says REDBOOK social programming editor Marissa Gold. "Dance recitals were not enough for me, and any type of performance environment was right up my alley. Unfortunately, I grew up 40 minutes outside of New York City and no one I knew participated in them. My mother was also a hippie who wouldn't have known the first thing about flippers, tiaras, and spray tans, and how is a 4-year-old going to get into the pageant circuit without her mother leading the way?"
What would you do if your daughter was interested in pageants? Would you let her compete as long as she understands beauty is not just physical? Do you think there are any redeeming aspects to beauty pageants? Can they be a fun competition that teaches a shy girl to come out of her shell and can eventually lead to scholarships or are they completely over-the-top superficial contests that encourage vanity and narcissism?
Gold thinks they can be healthy as long as the parent doesn't get caught up in the competition. "There are moms who take things too seriously and bring negative aspects to what would otherwise just be a fun dress-up game for girls," says Gold. "It shouldn't be about competition, but performance. And if your kid does lose, you shouldn't burst into tears behind the wheel of your minivan and lament all the money you spent on your 'wow wear' for nothing. I'm sure there are still circumstances where the kids really do enjoy them and look at it like any other extracurricular activity. But as we all know, those kind of experiences don't make for good television, so most of us with cable are only exposed to the other end of the spectrum."
What do you think? Would you let your child compete in a beauty pageant?
- Yes, but only if it was my child's idea and I felt she was old enough to handle the pressure. VOTE
- No, pageants send the wrong message that physical appearance trumps character. VOTE
- Yes, I think it would help my child develop poise and confidence. VOTE
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.parent