With television shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras” introducing the world to child pageants, many question whether entering a child in such pageants is wise. However, according to industry insiders, the actions depicted on the show are sensationalized, bringing a negative view to an industry that actually provides significant positive aspects to the girls who participate.
Contrary to the pageants shown on the show, most child pageants have rules against makeup on small children. Those that do use makeup are docked points, and the focus of the pageant was on communication skills through the interview, talent and community service. Rather than choose the winner based solely on looks, pageant officials require the participants to not only have a talent, but to volunteer in the community and be able to communicate well, all while wearing glittery party dresses.
According to Ashley Berry, who began competing in pageants at the age of 10, there is nothing wrong with competing as long as it is viewed as a hobby and the child enjoys what they are doing. She says that competitors should view pageant entry the same way they would if they played a sport, as a fun, interesting way to compete. She understands why some people have a negative view of pageants, especially with reality shows making the industry seem cutthroat and more about looks, dresses and makeup than what it really is – a positive experience for many participants.
Creating Better People
Ashley says that creating better people is the goal of most pageants, as it teaches them about giving to the community, the art of communication and, in most cases, a better self-image than those who do not compete. Ashley is also a national spokesperson for an anti-bullying campaign and volunteers in her community for different organizations. Her mother says she is one of the most poised, well-spoken young people she knows. Ashley also says that pageants have provided her with scholarship money she may not have received without the programs.
Pageants provide many benefits to young women, allowing them to dress as princesses while working toward gaining poise, self-esteem and communication skills. With the opportunity to earn scholarship funds and to help promote the body image of young women, many parents find the perfect mix in child pageants.