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The Basics: What Parents Should Know About Baby Pageantry

by Shauna Smith Duty


In the United States, pageantry has long been a glitzy, glorious, glamorous affair. Don’t you remember sitting in front of a black and white television, eating a TV dinner and watching The Miss America Pageant long past your bedtime? The most beautiful women from each state competed for the prestigious title. And surely you knew someone in your home town who was crowned Miss Fill-In-The-Blank. The glory, the fame, the fun! Now you are the proud parent of the most beautiful and outgoing child on the planet, if not the universe, and you’re thinking, “Hey, my kid could win a pageant!” So, the question is, where to start?

Is your child suited for pageantry?
Proud pageant mom Shylah has seen her 13-month-old Emma win 32 trophies, 9 crowns, 3 medals, a savings bond and a photo shoot. Emma has been in pageants since she was 1 month, yes 4 short weeks, old.

According to Shylah, “A child that is a good candidate for pageants is well-behaved, likes to be the center of attention, doesn’t meet a stranger, and doesn’t mind having to sit for a possibly extended period of time. The ones that are always smiling, waving, and blowing kisses are good candidates, too.” Shylah also says that children who are photogenic make great pageant contestants.
Regarding older children, Abigail Bond, a pageant coach in New York City, says, “A contestant has to love pageants for the love of the whole thing; otherwise, she should look to other activities.” Abigail can be contacted at [email protected].

So take a good, unbiased (like that’s possible) assessment of your child’s personality, rather than just his or her beautiful face. Is your baby a smiler who loves having her picture made? Can your son be calm, happy as a clam, for extended periods? Does your preschooler love to show off and be the center of attention? If the answer to these questions is, “Yes!”, then your child may be well-suited for pageantry. Now, onto the next task.

How can you find a good pageant?
Shylah recommends starting with local pageants which are often advertised at malls, in newspapers, at pageantry or bridal boutiques, and online. If you search for pageants online, make sure to check out what others on the Net have to say about the pageant. Search for message boards with postings about pageants you plan to enter.

While attending your first pageant, talk with other parents.. There’s nothing like word-of-mouth references to discover good information. Often pageants advertise at pageants, so by attending one, you may receive flyers about others. Some pageants compile contestant mailing lists. By participating, you may automatically receive emails or snail mail about future pageants. Keep in mind that if your beautiful bundle of joy wins a pageant on a regional level, he or she can continue to the state competition.

Then there’s the subject of cost…

Are pageants expensive?
“The prices can range from $25 into the thousands of dollars, and this depends on how much you are willing to spend on attire,” according to Shylah.
Entry fees are generally under $200 for regional pageants. In addition, clothing is required for each different pageant category. Translation: you need multiple outfits for each pageant, and they have to be really nice. Some contestants utilize manicurists, tanning memberships, hair stylists, makeup artists, and coaches. Each of these comes at a price, of course, but none are required.

What are the benefits of pageantry?
Beyond the fun, the glamour, and the glitz, as a parent, you likely want to know what emotional, social, and tangible benefits your child will gain through pageantry. Emotionally and socially, pageants can be great for building self-esteem. Your child will feel like a star dressed in his or her glamorous attire and standing on stage with a big grin. This can be good and bad. You’ll have to keep a handle on your child’s ego while also balancing his or her self-esteem. Children learn poise, grace, confidence, and pride by competing in pageants. Another lifelong lesson they’ll learn is how to deal with rejection; and sometimes they will soar on the wings of sweet success.

There is always potential for “being discovered” at pageants or low-level modeling gigs, so if your child wants to be a career actor, actress, or model, pageants are not only good training ground, but according to Shylah, a pageant could be a career launching event. Tangible rewards can range from ribbons, tiaras, trophies, and stuffed animals to scholarships, savings bonds, and pageant entry fees. Emma, Shylah’s daughter, won a photo shoot at a pageant.

Now you know the scoop. Consider this information before you delve into pageantry with your favorite kid in the world. Make sure it’s right for your child, your schedule, your budget, and your family. If you believe pageantry is a ride you don’t want to miss, investigate the legitimacy of pageants before entering, keep an eye on your child’s emotional and social changes, and have a good time together. Never forget that your family’s happiness is most important.



Mon, May 30, 2011 2:56pm

leslie there are pageants online on facebook and some of them are actually free :)

Thu, Feb 25, 2010 9:33pm

i really would love for my baby to be in the baby pageant we live in houston texas

Thu, Jul 19, 2007 1:53pm

Isabella is going to attend her first pagent in sep. I am open for any suggestions from anyone with a background in what things to expect or what to work on with her so that she does well and does not get on stage and freak out. alicia

Sat, Mar 03, 2007 8:19am

I don't think that i would sign Derek up for a Pageant (i also wouldn't if he were a girl). I just don't like the way they make little kids look like Adults and/or dolls. Natural pageants are okay though, but it's not really worth the price it coasts. I would like to get Derek into modeling though

Sat, Feb 10, 2007 12:55pm

can someone please contact me on how to start my daughter in pageants please. I would really like to get her started. I live in British Columbia, Canada on Vancouver Island. Vancouver is just a short ferry ride away. Please help!!! Thanks

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