Would you let your daughter enter a pageant?

Mommy, I don’t want to be a ballerina anymore.”

“Okay, sweets, what do you want to be?”

“I want to be a princess.”

“Well then, you’d better marry a prince,” I thought but didn’t say.

Not until a week later did it strike me:

Maybe she means she wants to be a beauty queen.

. . . .

Read my thoughts on the matter at The Mirror and let me know yours.

DUNLAP HAROLD

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6 thoughts on “Would you let your daughter enter a pageant?

  1. Once upon a time, i entered several beauty pageants. In my high school years. It was not something that my mother ever suggested (honestly, she was probably as horrified initially as you describe), but it was suggested to me by one of the women in the food pantry where I volunteered. I was intrigued. I hadn’t done that kind of thing before, so I decided to give it a shot. Looking back, it was one of the more formative experiences of my teenage years. The truth is that, like it or not, women and men are judged by how they look. Not just in the “beauty” sense, but in the equally important “put together” sense. Back then, I was kind of a tomboy and never paid much mind to my appearance or clothes. Being in a pageant taught me how to put my best foot forward. Also, it taught me how to interview — not only how to articulate a good answer, but also how to sit, what to do with my hands, how to make good eye contact, where to focus my eyes when preparing to answer a question, and how to address a panel. That last skill served me really well when it came time to interview for a job. Very rarely do we get the chance to practice interviewing in the real world, but that type of practice is part of typical pageant prep. The other thing is that pageants come in all shapes and sizes. My first couple of pageants did not involve a “swimsuit” component, which I would say can be dangerous when it comes to “body image” issues. They were more about poise, public speaking, and interviewing. Additionally, the pageants were preceded with “practices” where the group practiced doing interviews, Q&A on stage, runway walks, etc. I did move on to the swimsuit pageants eventually. I never was thrilled with my weight, so that was hard, but I will say that, if you can survive getting on stage in a swimsuit and heels, you probably can tackle almost anything in a public setting. And, again, those pageants were preceded with practice sessions. To me, the practice sessions and constructive feedback that came from them has proven invaluable. Looking back, I am glad that I did pageants, but I am equally glad that I never felt pressure from my parents to do them. It was something I chose to do on my own. Although I did receive a crown and a couple of accolades over the years and my own naturally competitive streak made me a fierce competitor, I also felt no pressure when I decided to stop doing pageants. That decision was a product of an increasing course-load at school, aging out of/exhausting the local pageants, the “freshman 15 (or 30)” at college, and realizing that the Miss America circuit (the only real circuit still available to me) was not really for me (I never had a good enough talent for the talent portion). If I ever have a girl and if she suggests entering a pageant, I would probably support her in the same non-pressure way that my mom did. But there would be a few factors involved in that decision. First, if my daughter is having any kind of self-esteem or body image issues and/or has a hard time with constructive criticism, I would probably be a bit more hesitant. I don’t think pageants are for the faint of heart, and receiving constructive criticism can be hard for a girl in her teenage years, especially one who isn’t very self-assured and/or “hates” her boyd. If that wasn’t a concern, then I would support her but also really look at the details for any pageant she wants to enter. I wouldn’t put her in a swimsuit competition (at least not at first), and I would want to ensure that the pageant has the same type of practice sessions that I found so beneficial. The goal being — to maximize the benefit she would receive (beyond just winning a crown). Anyway, that’s just my $0.02. Hope it is helpful. And sorry for the long comment. Got carried away!

  2. I really appreciated your post. As with many people who have never done pageants, all I could see were the superficial elements, all of which seemed horribly destructive to any girl: emphasis on appearance, being judged on the ability to “sell yourself” to others, knock-down drag-out kind of individualistic competition, and putting make-up on toddlers. It’s refreshing to hear that there are some aspects that allow a girl to develop some “polish” in a positive way, and that you can walk away from such an exercise without a personality complex.

    • Thanks, Linda. Yes, I feel the same way. I’d prefer my girls to learn the same skills in other ways. But if they want to do pageants I think I’d be open to it now. Of course I haven’t even talked to their dad about it , so there’s that too. 🙂

  3. Oh my, the local pageant winners in the parade a few weeks ago were quite a curiosity to my kids. It’s not something I would suggest to my daughter and it seems to have its own underworld, but I don’t think it will be an issue as she prefers pocket knives to dolls, picked karate over Irish dance, and scorns dresses. :/

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