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Striking a Pose: Moms Debate Children's Pageants and Modeling

Striking a Pose: Moms Debate Children's Pageants and Modeling

Striking a Pose: Moms Debate Children's Pageants and Modeling

If you've ever been intrigued by the world of Toddlers & Tiaras, or even just tempted to enter your baby and her winning smile in a Baby Gap modeling contest, should you think twice? Whenever the topic of children's pageants and professional modeling comes up on Circle of Moms, there are passionate defenders and detractors. Here are the highlights from some recent debates, including some front-line wisdom from moms who've been intimately involved in the strike-a-pose-world, as either pageant parents or former participants.

Con: Pageants Create Image and Self-Esteem Issues

"As a little girl, for years, I participated in pageants," shared Shelby H. "My mom and dad drove me up and down the East Coast as far and as often as I wanted to go, I sang, and pranced around, I did swimsuit competitions, and sang in my swimsuit from as far back as I can remember...I know my parents only did what they did to make me happy. On the other hand, I also remember what it felt like to lose. How miserable that feeling was to be 'not pretty' enough...To this day, my mom blames my self-esteem on those pageants." Shelby is one of numerous moms who argue that pageants can negatively affect a child's self-esteem and lead to image issues.

Con: Modeling is Work, Not a Hobby

Many moms express a different concern: that pageants and modeling put inappropriate demands on children. As Lucy F. puts it, "Having to 'perform' to order, wait around on set, work with impatient professionals, cope with rejection at castings, and fit in to the schedule of an industry that is not built around the needs of children is a big ask for a little one."


Pro: Pageants and Modeling Could Help Fund College

"My roommate from school was able to pay for college and most of medical school on scholarships garnered through pageants," shared Emily C. Numerous Circle of Moms members, including LaCi W., a mother of one son, believe that money earned from child modeling could be invaluable later on: "The opportunity to set aside money for college (or anything he wants later) that he earned himself…it's just not a bad thing."

Pro: Many Children Truly Enjoy Pageants and Modeling

Several Circle of Moms members assert that pageants can be positive experiences. "Kids that compete at state and nationals LOVE this hobby and it shows," shares Patrice R., whose 13-year-old daughter participates in "glitz pageants", where the girls wear heavy makeup and grown-up gowns and swimsuits. Megan C. in Wyoming recalls that her childhood friends loved participating in pageants: "I always wanted to be in them when I was little, and several of my friends were. They had a blast!"

To detractors who believe that pageants create image and confidence issues for young girls, Kristyn J. in Kansas City counters that "I was in pageants as a child and it did nothing to dampen my self-esteem."

Where Do You Draw the Line?

As a parent, knowing where to draw the line seems to be the key. Rebecca F. says that allowing young children to model is fine if the child truly enjoys the experience: "I feel that it is important to encourage and support a child's interests...If she understands that this is for fun and as soon as it's not fun, she is allowed to say so, I don't see a problem with it."

And many moms admit that while they'd prefer their child avoid pageants altogether, they might compromise with a kid who really wanted to participate. As Cassie C. shares, her solution would be avoid the glitz pageants and participate only in natural pageants: "There are natural pageants where the child wears normal clothes, no make-up, and normal hair. If our daughter did come to us in a few years wanting to do a pageant, we would only allow a natural pageant."

Interested in discussing children's pageants and other hot topics?

Thousands of moms belong to Circle of Moms' active debating communities. Whether the topic du jour is ear-piercing, sleep-training, or a potential circumcision ban, communities like Debating Mums and Parenting Debates and Hot Topics are excellent places to hear a wide range of views.

Image Source: Eun Byeol

EmilyVictoriaSendon EmilyVictoriaSendon 5 years
i disagree with the glitz and the glam ones but the natural ones are ok. my daughter is 4 and she goes dancing 5 days a week. She loves it. yes, for shows she wears some make-up but it will always look natural. I will always try to make her happy and never force her to do anything she doesnt want to do. we try to encourage jayde to look her best but never do her hair whenever there is a hair out of place like some mums at her school. she need to be a kid while she can and not be false! x
kerrymargereson kerrymargereson 5 years
Natural ones yes why not but the glitz and the glam no there just kids why do they need fake eyelashes or flippers or fake tans hair extentions come on its bad enough teens thinking they need these things 2 look good never mind a 3 year old. X
TerriePowers TerriePowers 5 years
thats not what toddlers and tiars show, i cant stand that show, i saw one and i was like how can these parents torture ther kids like that?! im sure some are in it for fun but i see more in it for the money and for the win, its just sad, kids getting spray tans... not right
JennaKing26603 JennaKing26603 5 years
I think pageants are wrong on every level. All they are about is physical appearance and showy talents. People involved in pageants have no need to develop personalities and good character traits or talents that are inside and not showy. I would never let my daughter do a pageant until she was sufficient enough of age to have developed these aspects of her personality already--an adult!
ShellyBogensberger ShellyBogensberger 5 years
Children should not be paraded around in pageants, they should learn that it is what is inside their heart that counts, and not what they look like.
MaddySiletti MaddySiletti 5 years
Pageants are NOT the girl equivalent to football and soccer. In those sports children play as a team, and while their ability to throw or kick a ball may be 'judged', it isn't personal. Plus, with practice, they can improve. A pageant judges a child's beauty. This cannot be improved on through hard work and practice. Pageants disgust me. I would never want my child to win, or lose, a competition and know it was for her looks. My little girl is confidant and loves to sing. She is going to start attending a drama group. Also, the argument that pageants pay for college? Parents are responsible for either paying for college or installing a good work ethic in their child so their child can work through college. To earn enough money to pay for school by curling your hair, putting on make up and charming judges just dosen't see very wholesome to me.
HollyCunningham19991 HollyCunningham19991 5 years
I think it is the most absurd thing in our society. Why would we teach our children to dress up, prance around in front of people. and be judged on what doesn't matter about someone which is their looks. Why in the world would someone dress their child up in a swim suit to walk in front of people. It just blows my mind how some people rationalize it.
sarahcoppens sarahcoppens 6 years
there are different kinds of pagents, all natural pagents are one of the greatest thing to boost your childs confidence! of course they are going to be upset if they don't win, but thats another life lesson, you can't always win and your child has to know that and you need to teach them, but as far as pagents where they have to have 2 tone of make-up on, hair extensions and be 'perfect' go all your teaching them is that you need all that to be beautiful! yes it's a fact that life is easier on those who are 'attractive' but childen should learn to be confident within themselves no matter what they look like.
SusanBaxter SusanBaxter 6 years
If they left out all of the make up and allowed the kids to be their natural selves there wouldn't be an issue. However the make up they put on these poor babies is disgusting and uncalled for.
jacquebreencase jacquebreencase 6 years
pageants are something fun for girls to do like boys play football baseball my girls love to be in them and beleave me if they didnt want to do them i wouldnt push them i would love not spenting the hundreds they cost they are not all like you see on tv . the girls are not winning money ,thay are winning to rep the town for the yr its not for everyone but it is for my girls
VeniseGionet VeniseGionet 6 years
It's a job, and kids are not supposed to work. If the kids really enjoy it, just make them a play stage at home ald lets do a family modeling show. Than's what I call just for fun. If the whan to do it later they will. If my kids love playing doctors, I'm not gonna put them to work in a hospital, they'll plai with their doctors play kit at home.
CoMMember13625744145605 CoMMember13625744145605 6 years
Modelling should certainly be something that your child enjoys doing.. as long as your child is thriving and doing what s/he loves.. then why not? If you are considering entering your child into modelling, read this first:
PaulaKlee PaulaKlee 6 years
my sister was in modelling.. She wanted to do it . My stepmom took her to all the courses and interviews she needed. She got some jobs out of it and her self esteem is just fine. She is still very beautiful and doesn't just rely on that... Right now she wants to go to college and be a massage therapist. Because our family embraced her interests and didn't smother her their own wishes and desires for her she ended up ok..
CoMMember13630896710633 CoMMember13630896710633 6 years
I'm sure there are some children who are natural's for the pageants &/or Acting.... but I Totally agree that it's Only a Good thing as long as the child enjoys it.... but too many children Loose their childhood from parents who think they can "CASH IN' on their kids.... kinda like Dogs in a Dog show.... except the dogs feelings aren't hurt when they don't win... and if they do, they get big bucks for their puppies.... not that they know the difference.... like all of us, all we need is to be loved and appreciated for Who We ARE.
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