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Baby Pageant Basics: Who’s Essential

by Shauna Smith Duty


We are what we wear. If this were true, I would be a burp rag. In pageantry, however, wardrobe is important. Your child’s pageant clothing is seen as an outward extension of her personality. It’s the whole package that turns the judges’ eyes, though. Beauty preparation, like hair styling, manicures, makeup, and in some cases, tanning, are also standard for pageants. Then there’s the practice. Smiling, speaking eloquently, having that star charisma that draws people’s attention are skills that many contestants are born with, so to stand out in the crowd, these skills must be developed—and that takes practice.

Pageantry can be as big or small as you make it. If you want home-spun fun, a small, local pageant is a good choice. Relatively inexpensive and low-key, local pageants are a good option for families who want to keep pageant costs low, but still enjoy the fun. Many times, moms, family, and friends step in to handle hair, makeup, and manicures for contestants in local pageants.

The bigger the pageant, the more it will cost, and the more time will have to be devoted to practice and preparation. In regional, and certainly in national, contests, contestants should expect to use a professional for hair, makeup, and manicure. For teens, these beauty preparations are almost required. This equals big bucks. So, if you’re thinking about stepping up a level, what should you expect? Who is essential?

Pageant parents have mixed feelings about coaches. While some children benefit from an outside coach, many children do well with parent coaches. Each child is different, so you have to decide what’s right for your child. Many seasoned parents agree, however, that only children over 4 years old can benefit from pageant coaching.

Pageant coaches assist clients by consulting on wardrobe, hair, and overall appearance. They also help with stage routines, proper foot placement, walk, and personality. Toni Marie Forcier, pageant coach in Pennsylvania, says, “If a parent cannot work with her own child, the child needs a coach. A child must feel comfortable with the outsider, though.” She continues to explain that most often, coached contestants do well in their first pageant. Many of her clients have won mini supreme titles after a few coaching sessions. ([email protected])

Abigail Borod of Abbie’s Acro Babes is a pageant coach in New York. She explains how coaches customize client sessions. “[A student] who has never stepped foot on stage or has only been to a handful of pageants really needs to take things slowly to correct mistakes. An intermediate to advanced student can move at the pace she feels comfortable, and she may choose to simply work on perfecting her Pro-Am modeling routines.” ([email protected])

Pageant coaches cost between $30 to $130 per hour, so hiring a coach is a financial as well as emotional decision. If your child responds well to your training, and if you feel your knowledge is appropriate for the level of pageants she is entering, you may not need a coach. However, if you’re in over your head, but pageantry suits your child, a coach can offer the helping hand you and your child need to succeed.

If your pageant contestant is a boy, you’re lucky! Former pageant contestant and mom, and current pageant grandmother explains, “I have a boy, so we don’t need all that stuff! But I think if you can do it yourself, you should. Save the money.”

According to pageant mom Shylah, some pageants don’t allow makeup on contestants under the age of 13. Some, however, have no beauty restrictions. “There are some pageant moms that go way out and get their children veneers, the fake hair and nails, makeup [. . .] and even have their child tan or use sunless tanning lotions; but, to each his own.” Shylah’s baby, Emma Starr, has been in pageants since she was 2 months old. Emma does not wear makeup, and Shylah does her hair.

The level of necessary beauty preparation for contestants depends on many factors. First of all, what are you capable of doing as the parent? If you can do hair and nails, there’s no need for a professional. If you tend to make your beautiful baby look like a 30-year old showgirl, you may need some professional assistance in the beauty department. Secondly, what does your child need? Most babies have no hair, so a hairstylist is not a consideration. They also do not need tanned skin and manicures to win a competition. Children over 4 years old may need their hair styled, and some light makeup may be appropriate. Teens, on the other hand, compete at a higher level, and being older, they may need professionals in all areas of beauty preparation.

Wardrobe is an unavoidable expense in pageantry. Each pageant has a beauty event, and a dressy outfit is required. Some pageants have swimsuit and talent competitions for which second and third outfits are necessary. Determine what events you are registered for, then shop accordingly. For glitz pageants, wardrobe may be more expensive.

“Just for the last 2 state pageants I put Emma in, I paid over $2500, and she also had sponsors to help with advertising,” Shylah says. Emma is now 13 months old, so she does not require beauty preparation. The main expenses were wardrobe and entry fees.

Other expenses include travel, lodging, and food, if a pageant is not local. “I don’t want to discourage anyone from getting into this hobby because it is well worth every penny as long as your child enjoys it,” Shylah says. So, in determining whether pageantry is the right road for your child and your family, the financial obligation should be a serious consideration. Even for a baby, pageantry can come with a rather large price tag.


Comment Pages: 1 2

Mon, Sep 19, 2011 2:28pm

My daughter has done 2 sweet pea pageants and will be doing the sunburst pageant this sat any tips would be great. She placed 1st and then 2nd so I hope she gets 1st this weekend then we would get our fee paid only thing is she is almost 2 so come finals she will be in the 2-3 group but Sat she will be in the 1-2 group keeping our fingers crossed would love some feedback :) thanks

Thu, Mar 31, 2011 6:37am

My granddaughter won 1st place at the mall where Sunburst Inc had a pagent. Now she goes to state. There is no make-up involved, just a natual look. Mia just turned 1. It will be fun going to the state since it held in Cape Cod and its close by for us. Mia's entry fee was paid by Sunburst, If she wins she will be able to go to nationals and the entry would be paid again by Sunburst. We don't know if we would go to that pagent.

Tue, Sep 21, 2010 4:32am

i wanna do this!

Sun, May 16, 2010 1:44am

how can I get my daughter started??? Been looking but no luck, any advice?

Tue, Aug 18, 2009 2:45pm

i known a good pageant dream girls usa and they dont believe in make up for little girls and this pageant is to have fun and not to buy expense clothes and u win the state and u get to st.louis for nation and i am look for more pageant for my little girl

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