Toddlers and child beauty pageants – Risk factors for severe psychological turmoils

Photo: Study of a Fully Dressed Little Girl, Kate Greenaway (1897)

Make-up, hair extensions, teased hairstyles, clouds of hairspray, flippers (fake teeth), sophisticated costumes, screaming crowds (mostly mothers), weird postures, twitched face expressions, tiaras, trophies, money, and more or less talent are the ingredients for the usual child beauty pageants, along with exercised smiles and hysterical crying and outbursts.

The children that compete in these beauty contests are aged 2/3 to 10 (sometimes even younger than 2 years old) and usually have one only goal: get the money and get the tiara (tiara and/or trophy and/or ribbon). Of course, these little beauties do not enter the contests at their own request, but their mothers are the ones to fill in the applications on time, pay the participation fee, create or buy the outfit, and establish the type of performance for the „talent” section (usually some song about the greatest love in one’s life and/or a terrible heartbreak; dancing is also a very popular talent to be displayed), create and exercise the hairstyle and make-up, keep a strict rehearsal schedule, hire trainers if the mom herself cannot coach the whole thing, fill in the gas tank and travel hundreds of miles with their children just to spend a weekend on an emotional roller coaster that for most of the mother-daughter teams has its last stop on „low”. So why do these mothers (and rarely fathers) put their young girls (and sometimes boys) through this experience? Well, the official answers are „For them to have fun and experience dress-up in a more complex environment.”, „Because she likes it.”, „Because she is beautiful.” Etc. Off the record answers include the „For the money” and „Because she (read „I”) has to be number one” versions. Anyway, for myself, the most feared answer to that question would be „Because I used to participate in such contests myself”, and no matter how that sentence ends („… and I always won”, „…and I’ve never won, but I know she can do it!”), I just know things are going downhill.

What can a child learn by being a professional/serial beauty pageant contestant? Well, encouraging the sense of competition is okay, having a hobby to be dedicated to is okay, and spending time with mom is great, but when you become a winning machine, a 1st place chaser, or a tiara collector, serious psychological problems are just around the corner. These contests promote physical beauty as the main value, complimented of course by the „special talent” and „warm hearts”. A child, especially a female that is going to pay so much attention to her looks and that knows she is being assessed for it, is prone to develop eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia. Also, paranoid features can occur as a response to the „no other girl is your friend here” speech, regarding the relationships between the participants (both mothers and daughters), usually all smiles and hugs at the surface but opposition can be sensed at a deeper level. And this brings another problem to my mind, dissimulation as a form of interaction, which can be used outside contests too and become a habit. Also, seeing screaming crowds, rivers of tears at all times, and having to put on an act and playing a role could lead to learning hysteric behaviors. Anxiety is no stranger for these girls either. If at first sight, they seem to learn how to be prepared for a stressful situation, think of this: what if the girl does not really want to participate and does this only to please her mother? What if she can’t actually dance or sing, but she has to do that anyway? And what if she feels embarrassed? What if she would rather like to spend time with friends in her hometown and not in some cheap hotel miles away from her house? Then I believe yes, anxiety and frustration are near these children at all times. These and many other psychological problems can emerge from having to be something that you are not at a very early age. And inner problems are not the only ones. Displaying such a mature look (these girls are five or six years old, yet their faces look like those of at least 16 years old) may attract unwanted public, such as pedophiles. Paying the fee for your child’s picture to be posted on a website with heavy traffic is again, in my opinion, not the best choice to be made. Unfortunately, there have been cases of young pageant participants that have been victims of murder cases, so things are not as simple as one might think.

Mothers of these children are usually trying to live their own dreams through their young daughters. I am talking about dreams that they either could not accomplish or accomplished in such a way that they’ve become a way of life. Playing dress-up with your daughter can be great, but why transform it into a full-time job? I also need to mention that these contests usually take place on weekends, so the children that also go to school have no free time to invest in building healthy relationships, behaviors, attitudes, or following their own dreams.

So many things can be discussed about child beauty pageants, ranging from ethics, parenthood, mental health, development, competition or interpersonal relationships, but I will end the article like this: See your children and invest in their potential, but give them the opportunity to make their own choices and fulfill their own dreams.


Update 06.08.2011.

You might also like this new article on the same subject:

Sexualizing your child is not playing dress-up – Parents and child beauty pageants

133 thoughts on “Toddlers and child beauty pageants – Risk factors for severe psychological turmoils”

        1. ur stupid! beauty pageants are gross and teach little girls to be total brats that get a 2,000 dollar dress every other week!!!! idiot! look up the average on how much ur pretty lil brats make there family spend on there lil gay dresses!

  1. I’m lazy I know.. I wanted to be the first to comment, yesterday, but.. I’m just lazy, you know me..
    Reading your article made me think of those american-like “wanna be” movies and shows, where it doesn’t matter the price, the beauty contest must be won.. When you see grownups doing this, you say: “that’s stupid, but at least it’s there life”, but when you see children, with those dresses and make ups, it’s like “oh my God, are their parents… “parents” or just puppeteers?”
    keep it up, miss! you make psychology tilt its head.

    1. Well Sabina, your comment it’s the first of its length! :)) And I agree, unfortunately in USA there is already a culture regarding these events, they’re a stand-alone industry. Children should be guided in the sense of knowing their options and make decisions for themselves. Thank you for sharing your opinion and for the beautiful words!

  2. I don’t know If I said it already but …Cool site, love the info. I do a lot of research online on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Tony Brown

  3. Thts true
    There was a similar case in India where a girl who was singing in competative talent shows right from the age of 2. At the age of 12, she lost in the first round and she had some of stroke. She could not take up the rejection by the judges, she was admitted to hospital for recovery which doctors say make take years. For some time the news papers highlighted the issue that young minds cannot bear the consequences. But it outcry faded and shows still going on.

    Th parents want their kids to start achieving things from a small age. The only thing they don’t understand is what if it goes wrong.

    Good article, I think you should get it published in newspaper.

    1. Thank you for your appreciation, Santosh. There is a lot more to be said on this subject… and indeed, the consequences may not be managed right by children of that age. Even adults have trouble coping with rejection of all kinds….

      Again, thank you!

  4. I don’t live in the USA, but i’ve been there 4 times, and it always amuses me how materialistic, how obssesed with preatty americans are and ironiclly, people are for the most part fat if not morbid obese (except for teens, i must admit).

    nearly all girls die their hairs with a horrible with yellow, and wear tons of makeup but hey it is their decision but when you force children, let alone your own daugther, it is just tortue, if adult models many times cannot take the preassure, imagine a children.

    I discovered this monstrosity in a show VH1 has about this and i wast just horrified, morbid obese mothers pushing their children into being all they never were and always wanted to be.

    Sorry if a made any mistake english is not my native language.

    1. I definately agree with you. I am from Canada and I think that the whole idea of being beautiful is disgusting. I think the show Toddlers & Tiaras should be banned from television. To see these mothers not only allowing their children to be extremely rude to them, say they are the most beautiful, cause their child to scream, have temper tantrums, and most of all eat countless amount of sugar (including infants). This is disgusting. I think someone should step in and stop these mothers from doing what they are doing – it is so close to child abuse.

    2. Jose, I am an american who has lived all over the world for substantial amounts of time. I agree with your assessments about pageants, however, the world is materialistic and self centered, not just america. Also I’m not sure why you mentioned teenagers, however, they are not much different from the general public. Your post just seemed odd and perhaps out of place.

      1. Perhaps Jose comes from a country close to the US, so the contrast is readily apparent.
        I’m not sure how a comment related to the topic can seem odd and out of place.
        I also happen to live in a country close to the US, and there appears to be a larger emphasis on the extremes – than some other countries in the world, though it’s not the only one.
        I have certainly noticed what Jose has observed in my area, which is much more extreme than the rest of the country. There are certain attitudes that can lead to a tolerance of inappropriate behavior.
        That has certainly been the case in my family, though a nation can certainly have that kind of climate as well.

  5. Impressive article. However I have to admit I find it a bit too biased. I’d like too see a better distinction between known fact and personal opinion. Trying to be on-topic, my (layman) opinion is that the real issue with the mentioned case is knowing exactly when to stop. As you’ve mentioned, these contests do have their benefits, developing a sense of competition, improving social interaction and the ability to perform in front of crowds, etc. The negative aspects related to failure, envy, lack of opportunity to form stronger connections, usually not taken into account by these parents should be carefully monitored according to the child’s personality. However the age of said child becomes a significant factor, the inherited part of their personalities not being fully known/understood, and the developed one not being.. well, developed, further increasing the complexity of the already overwhelmingly difficult issue of the child’s personality. The number of unknowns being this great, predicting “when to stop” would be a difficult task even for the scientifically-prepared parent, let alone the young couple who forgot a trip to the nearby drugstore (this is what i mean about making the article a bit too biased 😀 ). My guess is that parents have a whole arsenal of choices able to cripple the mental health of their offspring, so many in fact, that being a good parent becomes a job better left to the professionals. While this is clearly not the case found in “the wild”, natural selection once again steps in to separate the ones who can, despite the mistakes of their parents, adapt to society from the ones who slowly but steadily drift away.

    1. What benefits are gained in these pageants that can’t be gained in other endeavors?
      I find the pseudoscientic approach all too often overlooks common sense because it hasn’t been proven – yet.
      Perhaps so many people wouldn’t be enamoured of such an approach if they knew that it really only benefits the patenting of medications, and is not applicable to everyday life.
      There is evidence for the harm. I don’t see why an article would need to have an unbiased or scientific approach.
      We can debate it for as long as we like, and yet the harm still remains.
      I would like to suggest we put the burden of proof on highlighting how the benefits could possibly outweigh the known harms.

  6. Mihai, your comment is very articulate and I do understand your point of view. The diference between “known fact” and “personal opinion” becomes ice thin when approaching such a subject: once because the risk factors for most psychological disorders are covered by writings in the field (this makes my statements to be based on “known facts”)and the second thing is that Psychology Corner is a blog, a personal view upon diverse subjects. For a journal article, references regarding all the underlying hypothesis and theories should be mentioned. This is not the case for a blog post. 🙂 This article has a scientific approach, being written by a psychologist, but it was definately not intended to respect all scientific standards for research papers (APA format or any other).

    I agree that a “when to stop” moment is a vague thing to rely on…

    The positive aspects that you have stressed in your comment can hardly be reached when we talk about contestants aged 1 (or less) to 3/4 year olds.

    Personally,I believe that just the idea of judging and scoring given features (physical ones) and not achieved ones sends out the wrong message.

    Thank you for sharing your point of view with us!

  7. I am thrilled to see this topic attracting discussion, because I think it needs to be criticized with much depth and integrity. I think by taking away all of the innocence attributed to childhood we strip kids of the true value of their youth. If children are never allowed to explore and express curiosity without fear of failure, we cannot expect them to be successful in future obstacles. We stunt our society when we feed into the mentalities that go along with child beauty pageants, and personally it seems ironic to me that they are called beauty pageants. Isn’t the beauty of childhood the wonder and excitement that goes along with such naïve and innocent minds, not the exploitation of their bodies and made-up faces. We accomplish nothing when we cannot even accept the magnificence of childhood as it is supposed to be. Your blog is much appreciated, and hopefully even more light will be shed on such a horrific issue.


    1. Coby, thank you for your kind words and appreciation. I am glad readers found this article of interest and that it triggered some social awareness regarding this issue. And yes, I agree, childhood should be free of such powerful “failure/victory” feelings, especially when the criteria is mainly the physical aspect.

      Again, thank you and I expect you back with more comments. 🙂

    1. Pamela, I’m glad you’ve found my article to be of help.

      Good luck with your essay and maybe you can send me a copy!

      Have a great day,

  8. As a mother my main concern is keeping my kids safe and provide them with the tools they might need in life. I still can not understand how some parents (specially mothers) can just take away the most beautiful essence, tenderness and innocence of their child. The first years of life are not only the most important physically and mentally, but they are indeed the most precious…why take them away? just embrace them as much as you can cause they don’t last too long and life is way to cruel already to not get a hold of the real beauty of childhood. Is our responsibility as parents and human beings to conserve and take care of the lives we bring to this world. I hope with all my heart that kids beauty pageants get eliminated and punished once and for all.

  9. Silvana, thank you for your visit and wonderful comment! It’s nice to see a mother considering the life of her children the way you do. Congratulations!

  10. Personally I think it’s all about money and pizzazz!! On an episode of “Little Miss Perfect” an adorable little girl was ostracized in my eyes for not having a beautiful flowing gown, flappers, extensions, whatever. She had natural beauty though!! Nobody paid any attention to her just escorted her off stage. That mother worked very hard to get her daughter there, they lived in a trailer and her mother made all of her costumes. She had this routine where she carried a snake onstage around her neck. The point was she made the best out of what she had and nobody cared cause she didn’t have all the glitz and glamour. That one episode changed my whole opinion on beauty pageants.

  11. Thank you Jennifer for your visit and comment.Well, I’ve also watched some reality tv shows and they really are mind opening regarding this subject. Of course, many so called reality shows can be staged, but I don’t think this perspective would change the core of the idea of children beauty pageants. I understand what you are saying about appreciating natural beauty and efforts, but why should these be judged and rated in the first place? I believe that the whole “Who’s the fairest of them all” concept is wrong. This goes for both children and teenagers/adults beauty pageants… and even animal beauty contests… I’ve seen poodels with absolutely hideous “hair-styles” or fur-styles to be more exact… and not only hideous, but I think they might actually have a negative impact on the psychological mood of the dog. Haven’t researched this yet, but it’s one hypothesis.

    Again, thank you!

  12. Thank you so much for this information. Me and my friend are doing a research paper on this topic and we found this site very helpful. I could not agree with you more about children in beauty pageants. I look up to you as a role model for my future child and I would never put my child through such a harmful experience like that.

  13. Tracy, thank tou so much for your generous thoughts towards myself and the blog!

    I am so happy that you found it to be useful to you and you friend. The blog also has a feature that regards asking questions and getting answers from our team. So, if you need more guidance with your paper, do not hesitate to contact us!

    Again, thank you.

    All the best,
    Lucia Grosaru

  14. Thank you for your feedback and visit, Hannah!

    Well there are two sides of everything, so I believe there can be found some positive aspects regarding beauty pageants. All I can think of now involves a bit o fun and creativity in making the costumes.

    1. there is no creativity involved with plunking down money to buy an over priced dress or costume. these parents are beyond ridiculous to spend tens of thousands of dollars for clothes, makeup, fake teeth, fake tans, fake hair and travel instead of SAVING this money for their childrens’ education.

  15. I find that most pageants, especially for children, are mostly a battle for the mothers who did not make it themselves and now they put all that force on their children. I am a mother of a 19 month old beautiful little girl, and I would never put her in the situation to be disappointed and left feeling empty because she did not have the longest eye lashes or the prettiest dress! I think that even the judges in these competitions take it too seriously and do not consider the repercussions that situations like this will eventually have on the childs mind and self worth.

  16. Dear Jessi, thank you for your visit and comment and congratulations for your 19 months wonder! May the two of you have a great journey together in life!

    Well, I agree, it’s usually the mother the one that would actually love to participate in such a contest and of course, win the tiara and the “Grand Supreme Award” (I’ve heard that this is the most wanted award in the States …wait, I’ve just searched the web, seems that the “Ultimate Grand Supreme” is the highest, so my fault, the Grand supreme was so last year ). And I am also surprised with the judges… I’ve actually watched a reality-show in which one of the judges said something like “I am not looking for natural beauty… I think the appearance of the child should be sophisticated and mirror the investment”… something like that… I found that to be the “grand supreme” in the appalling statements section. But the “ultimate grand supreme” goes to… a mother that entered all her 5 daughters in the contest, two of them were twins and they were competing against each other… and the mom had one favourite and didn’t try to hide that, at all. You could really see the sadness on that little girl’s face (the one that the mother would see as the non-gifted one)… The thing that somehow made things right, even if it was for a little bit and not in the right direction, but it’s still a lesson… this second girl won an important prize. Another happy aspect was that the father would step in pretty rationally when siatuations required.

    Again, thank you Jessi for your comment and for giving me the opportunity to share more with you all.

    All the best,

  17. I agree with every point made. I am doing my Junior term paper on this topic, and there are some very messed up things that come out of these beauty contests. Thank you very much.

  18. Debbie Giovanni

    I would like to say that not all beauty pageants are the same. I would never allow my daughter to enter into a glitz pageant. My daughter, who is 8 has participated in local community pageants that have taught her valuable lessons to carry on with her into adulthood. Such as:

    -life does not come easy. If you want to be someone you need to practice and learn what you need to do to get there.

    -Nothing in life is free, hard work and dedication will help you there.

    -Natural Beauty Pageant winner often take part in numorious community activities. This teaches them about community service, volunteering and giving back to there community.

    -Life is not always about being the winner, it is about trying your best and enjoying what you are doing along the way.

    -My daughter loves to be on the stage weather it is dancing, acting, singing or competing. Pageants are just another way for her to enjoy what she loves to do.

    Oh and by the way, I never wanted to do this when I was a child. Being in “Natural Beauty Pageants” is all my daughters idea.

    1. If natural beauty was the #1 criteria for entry, most of the kids in the glitz pageants would never even get in the door. It’s utterly amazing to see the difference in the “before” and “after” photos of the entrants. Some of those poor kids are “beauty-challenged” enough to stop a clock. Of course the kids can’t help what faces they were born with, and naturally, every mother thinks her child is beautiful, no matter what they look like. But for them to go on and on endlessly telling the poor homely kid how gorgeous they are is not doing them any favors. Eventually the child will either look in a mirror and realize that their face, and the face they wear on the stage are two totally different faces. If they don’t come to that realization on their own, their schoolmates will gladly bring it to their attention when they start bragging about their own “beauty.”

      Fake hair, fake teeth, fake fingernails, fake tans, and reshaped brows and hairlines do not a beauty make. What they do make is a plastic mask of a face.

      The saddest part of this frequent misrepresentation, is that because of the mother’s constantly teaching the poor little ugly duckling that she is #1, the ‘grand supreme”, the prettiest, etc. the inevitable happens when this deluded child gets a big head and starts bragging about her own “beauty”. Watching any pageant will show the true ugliness INSIDE these children. At times, it seems like the homelier They are, the ruder and more insolent, disobedient, stubborn and nasty they are. They lash out at their parents, physically assault other contestants and scream, spit, bite and cry when things don’t go their way. Most would benefit greatly by a good spanking instead of feeding them sugar cubes or sticks of candy and bribes.

      Then again, maybe it’s the mothers that would benefit from a spanking. However they will soon reap what they’ve sewn: out of control rebellious teenagers, disfunctional narcistists and repulsive young adults. They have created monsters, and it all began with the old proverb of “trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” The moms will spend lonely lives whenthe kids realize they were used to fulfill mom”s dreams and shortcomings, and the girls will most likely have hard lives centered around the sex they spent their young lives advertising.

      These pageants are a lose-lose situation for both parents and children.

  19. Deborah L. Jones

    I agree that some parents are not aware of the ramifications that are often associated with child beauty pageants. There is never an excuse for exposing a child to any activity which carries potential for risk or injury of any form. Education on the different types of pageants in existence helps to clarify some misunderstandings given to ALL pageants in general.
    Parental responsiblity and motivation for supporting their child’s participation should be focused upon as well. Not all parents permit their children to be invovled for the WIN-LOSE perspective. They, pageants & contests, can be an appropriate outlet for them to practice their talent, interviewing and grooming for ordinary life skills such as appearance, politeness, courtesy, gracefulness, how to modify their own behavior and listening skills. Our society tends to emphasis beauty and youthfulness, while the media engulfs our children publically with messages on how to dress, act and commmunicate. In conclusion, age and stage of development are critical for young children to avoid the extremes of artificial beauty not only biologically, psychologically and socially. They mature so quickly, brief adventures into the world of pageantry can be a positive experience but to make a lifetime investment of child rearing- pageants are not the place to be.

    1. Dear Deborah,

      Thank you for your comment. I do understand your point of view, however I didn’t catch any significant moments in beauty pageants that would actually promote or exercise such values. My opinion is that important values, talent, courtesy and so on can also be practiced in a more adequate environment. Judges in this kind of competitions don’t rate this kind of qualities… as far as I know, the categories include things like “Best eyes”, “Best dress”, “Best walk” etc… Even the talent section is not rated in an objective manner. You don’t have 20 children playing the violin and judges deciding who played best. Instead, you have a dancer competing with a vocal singer, a model and a cowgirl. So what’s actually rated is the kind of talent displayed rather than the quality of the performance. And this things aren’t even rated by professionals. Being a former pageant winner or an organizer doesn’t qualify the members of the jury for such task.

      In conclusion, I would recommend entering the child in programmes that are conducted by professionals, in order to develop or exercise a talent or interest. Getting painting lessons, etiquette lessons, being in a choir, taking private canto lessons and so on, seem to me to be more desirable and rewarding (and fair!) than any kind of pageant.

      Best regards,
      Lucia Grosaru

  20. Child beauty Pageants are disturbing and I believe border on child abuse. To put a three year old through spray tanning, hair extensions dressing up in costumes that are not age appropriate and even going to the extent of giving them fake teeth is horrendous – surely there is a way we can stop these pageants from happening? These poor children, it is truly revolting.

  21. Hi Lucia,
    I totally agree with you about pageants!! I am doing an essay on beauty pageants and how they should be banned!! Youre information really helped me!!

  22. Hi,
    I am doing my College Comp 2 paper on this topic and I love this article. My major is Psych. I will be citing my work with references to this article.
    Thanks for writing this.
    This practice and “sport” is sickening to watch, and I wish it would be banned…but that would never happen.

  23. Hello, Pam!

    I am so glad that this article has been useful to you.

    Good luck with your paper and all the best,

  24. This is a reason I wanna do my essay on this topic,it’s so controversal I do hate the parents that force their children but what if the child wants to do it and they receive a grant or something of that nature? Idk,it seems like a difficult situation to write about.

    1. First of all, welcome to the blog! Well, I do understand your concearn, because I have also seen a few cases of children that are willing to participate in this kind of competitions and have fun doing so. However, that does not apply to toddlers and decision making when we are talking about a 5 year old is most likely to be influenced by the perceptions and attitude of parents regarding this kind of activity. A nice presentation “package” or a nice reward could tempt children into believing that is the right thing for them.

      Good luck with your essay!

  25. Poor little Hope from Toddlers and Tiaras had a stroke. Her mother was the most horrible creature on
    tv I just saw the show this week. She was a [unpermitted text/censored by admin]. She was disgusting to that poor child. She even got her home in a hurry before everything had ended. She should be in gaol on child abuse charges. She still wants her back in pageants. I wish the welfare would remove the child from her care.

  26. Hi, I just wanted to say that I agree a hundred and ten percent with your article!! Children of that age should never be put in a beauty pageant. I believe if the child is old enough to make their own choices in life then they should be able to decide if they want to be part of it, but a parent should NEVER put a child of that age in a pageant.
    — Cassie, 17

  27. I appreciate your views on this subject but I’m wondering if you have any proven facts that Child Beuty Pageants are harmful? I am also writing a college persuasive essay on regulating these pageants for children 13 and older and banning them all together for children younger than that. I am having much difficulty trying to find fact as opposed to opinion. Can you help?

    1. Thank you for your comment, Jennifer. Well, I don’t know whether there are studies regarding the effects of beauty pageants on children but if you could trace for example anorexic or bulimic girls that have been in that industry as children would be great. Other than that, perhaps getting feedback from those children might also help. But I doubt they would provide a non-biased answer, especially cause they are underage and depend on their parents…also they tend to introject the parents’ opinion…. If you have acces to an academic database like ProQuest or EBSCO, you might try and find articles/studies on this subject. The analysis of video footage might also be valid, especially if you can have access to a non-edited version.

      Research the available materials, tv-shows, interviews… An build your own opinion and ask the ones of others… specialists like psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, but also listen to the voice of the larger public and the stories that emerge. If you cannot measure how the pageants affect those children in particular, maybe you can see how it affects society.

      It’s somehow a taboo subject, that is why I believe conducting an actual experiment would be a very complex and challenging task. In my country, this hasn’t become an industry, so I cannot research it over here, although I would’ve been interested in such a subject.

      All the best and congratulations for submiting to such a cause!

  28. This article spells out child Beauty Pageants perfectly! I am currently doing my Senior Thesis on this subject and your views are great support for my paper. Thank You so much!

  29. I really agree with this article. I think that it is a very interesting and controversial topic and I am glad that this article has been shared.

    I am currently doing a school paper all about how in today’s society many people are putting on a fake facade to achieve attention, fame, fortune etc. I think that this topic proves that exactly. It is almost sickening that children in today’s society are taught from an early age to compromise their looks, beliefs and personality for a desire for attention.

    Thanks for this opinion!

  30. I am also currently doing a school paper on Child Beauty Pageants, and this article really caught my attention. You make a lot of good points! I understand that there are some young girls out there that enjoy this type of hobby, but there is no way they can enjoy the intensity of it! I feel like the mothers are taking the competition overboard.

    For the purposes of my paper, we are required to contact an expert on our topic. If you would rather me contact you by email, I can do that also as long as you give it to me. Otherwise here are the questions I have for you:

    1.)My research question is “Are toddler beauty pageants harmful to the children and their families?”, and I was wondering what y ou would have to say about my question.

    2.) Do you have any suggestions as to how I should go about my research and where I could find some scholarly sources?

    3.)Finally, if you were in my position, what would you include in your paper concerning this topic?

    I’m sorry if these questions are burdensome, but I feel like you would have a good outlook on this subject and share the same opinion about it as I do. If you cuold ldet me know your responses as soon as possible I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!!

  31. I really enjoyed reading your article and agree with your points.

    I am also currently doing a school paper, and was wondering if you could answer these questions for me.

    1.) If you were in my situation writing a paper, what would you write about and include in your paper about this topic?

    2.) How would you conduct research on this topic? Do you have any suggestions for scholarly sources?

    3.) How do you feel child pageants affect the relationships between the parents and the children?

    1. Hi Alison, thank you for your feedback and comment!

      The subject of your paper needs to be something that concearns you and makes sense to you. Perhaps a qualitative research would be more appropriate on this topic and easier to approach. You can use any sort of materials as sources (scientific articles from academic databases like ProQuest or EBSCO, video footage and documentaries, books etc). I don’t have a list in this sense.

      The way pageants influence the family dynamics… that’s a complex subject and perhaps you can outline your own hypothesis and conclusions from the materials you are going to read or watch.

      All the best,
      Lucia Grosaru

  32. HI! I am doing a persuasive speech on how beauty pageants are bad to the minds of young girls. I wanted to know if I would be able to use part of this article! I just need this in MLA format with the :

    -the database
    -and the source

  33. here in new zealand we are setting up groups to try and have the baby beauty pageants outlawed. we as mothers of girls are of the opinion that these pageants are nothing more than parents with dollar signs in their eyes, and are a platform for pediphiles dreams. do they screen every one who attends these pageants to be able to say no pediphiles would be in attendance.. we think not.therefore,our babies are at the mercy of every pediphile with a camera/video camera. after watching 5 or 6 videos of amaerican baby beauty pagents, i was sickened at what the mothers of little 7 year olds put their daughters through.they should be banned. it is child abuse and given the safety of our children in question in our country,the government shopuld outlaw the event before it gets statred.

  34. I just wanted to say that I am doing an essay for my Sociology class on the negative effects that beauty pageants have on a childs personality and I found this very helpful. Thanks so much! 🙂

  35. Lucia! Great article. I’m a student in high school writing a research paper on children’s Beauty Pageants. You’ll be well cited in my paper!
    -Thanks so much!

  36. we hope your website is very helpful for our reserch for our debate we are the affiritive for beauty pagents and want to know some reasons why they are great or good to enter. We hope we will find what we are looking for. We both dont believe in pagents because its all practicly child abuse but we will try our best and use this site for reasons or just get some idea. We hope that maybe we can use some of yours but rewrite them in our own words. the reserch is great for us to find some things. Once again we hope to find your site helpful with our debat and constructive speech

  37. Hi Lucia! I loved your article! I’m doing a paper on this topic, so this was really helpful. I’m just wondering, what sources did you use? I’m having trouble finding scholarly sources for my paper. I thought having maybe you could give me some recommendations. Thanks again!

  38. Thank you so much! I am writing my college argument essay on the negative effects of beauty pageants on children, and this helped me a lot!

  39. Loved this article and I usually dont read much. Although, when i heard about this article i absolutely had to read it and i completely understand the negative effects of these beauty pageants on these innocent little girls.Keep up the great work! 😀

  40. i’m doing a research paper for my literature 12 class. i’m entitling it Toddlers and Tiaras – Why It’s Wrong. this article will be very helpful to me when writing my paper. thank you

  41. I came across this while researching for a persuasive paper in my english class, and I just wanted to say it helped me a lot. Lots of information to help develop my points. Great article, and keep posting!

  42. i’m writing an independent study paper on the negative effects of child beauty pageants and this helped me a ton! great article!

  43. Hi! this is sooo amazing. would you mind if I used some of your words for my essay? Dont worry. I’ll give you credit because I need to write a bibliography anyways!

  44. I am actually doing a research paper for my developmental psychology class. Are there any other resources or studies you could suggest on this topic. I really enjoyed your article, but need a lot more for my 10-12 page paper.

  45. Apparently your research was conducted by watching several episodes of “Toddlers and Tiaras”. That would be comparable to watching “Jersey Shore” to study the role of tourism in New Jersey. As the mother of a teeneager involved in pageantry, I know that you have done very little actual legitimate research into the world of pageants. You have also made some unfounded assumptions. You may feel your background gives you the authority to write such an article, but this is simply your opinion on pageants.

    1. For a persuasive speech topic I chose “Child Beauty Pageants” because I used to watch the show “Toddlers and Tiaras” occasionally and I was just speechless every time. (Of course I was also entertained by how everyone acted on that show.) 🙂 I’ve found this blog post very helpful to get a psychological perspective on this topic. This website is indeed a blog and there is no need to be assuming things you do not know for sure. Especially if you are the pot calling the kettle black in this specific situation with assuming things. This is just her opinion on this topic and I found it was very useful for information as well as a point of view. She has great facts to back everything up. I am involved in pageants in the teen divisions, so I know where you are sort of coming off from and what you may have been trying to point out. I also understand that you may have confused the whole reasoning for this sort of post, this is a post about CHILD beauty pageants not teen or ” The Pageant World”. (As you were saying because of the mention of you being a mother of a teen who competes in pageants.) Being in the teen divisions myself (13-18) I know for a fact that they are VERY much different. So thank you for saying those things so I could feel very smart for being able to clear everything up for you to understand. Please do not take this response personal, but next time before you post something like that, you may want to think about what you want to make a point about and how to say it before typing it and posting it for everyone to see.

      Thanks for your time and making me feel intelligent!
      Minnie Mouse

    2. Michelle,
      I was a child that was put into pagaents and most of the things said are true!
      Im glad your daughter likes being in pagaents but in reality many children don’t.
      So like Lucia said it IS JUST A BLOG
      and like many other people, she has every right to express her opinions.
      Now have a great day!!

  46. that picture of that girl is really creepy and every time i scroll up i forget about the picture and it scares me. where did you even get that picture? but i love your artical. it is very interesting and right now im doing a persuasive essay on beauty pageants and i would love some help with it. how beauty pageants arent that healthy for women and young girls. And that picture is still really really creepy.

  47. I stumbled across this artical while actually researching pageants to enter my daughter in. She has been in one pageant. She was 11 months at the time. It was glitz and natural. I entered her in the natural division and she had a blast walking across the stage with mommy. In fact she couldnt wait to get up there after our practice walks. Her dress was a simple cotton dress with pink roses embroidered on it, a rose headband was her only accesory. She looked NATURALLY beautiful. there was no makeup or hair peices involved. She took first place for her age division, and best smile. Everyone had fun including her. I saw nothing wrong with having her in it, it was in the spirit of fun. I plan on continuing with having her in pageants, teaching her that not taking home a prize doesnt matter, not letting makeup and hair take away from her natural beauty, and NEVER making her do anything she doesnt want to, even at her young age she does and always will have the choice of walking up on that stage. You didnt address this in your writing. Little girls love dressing up pretty. It does not have to be a negative or trashy thing. We do it in the spirit of fun!

    1. Thank you for your message, Reesa.

      I did address the positive aspects of pageants and also stated that these results can be achieved otherwise too. I wrote more about this in the following article: “Sexualizing your child is not playing dress-up – Parents and child beauty pageants” .

      And although I do understand the essence of your message and your intentions, I am going to say that an 11-month-old is not capable of context-means-goals-result analysis. A child at that age reacts at the immediate stimuli: you show her her favorite toy, she will be excited, you show her a crowd that smiles back at her, she will most likely be happy and smile etc. Again, this can be achieved otherwise.

      Again, thank you for your feedback.

      1. Tisk Tisk TIsk, Lucia. With all of the errors in your article… you shouldn’t be correcting anyone! 🙂

  48. This information is so helpful! Thank you for your very distinct outlook on these horrible child pageants. I’m also doing this topic for my high school Research paper, and this article along with the other one you made has made this paper so much easier! Thanks 🙂

    1. If that quote is true, I’m in trouble. I do so much for my kids. That’s bad? Ugh.Julia is 7, hvweoer, and she does shower herself, pick out her own clothes and dress herself. She can get herself a snack (after asking permission, of course). We’ve been talking about teaching her to cook at least one meal that could be served at dinner, but it hasn’t happened, yet. I still comb her hair, but mostly because she has so much of it! And I like doing it.Lucy is 3, almost 4. She’s only recently started to dress herself and she had to yell at me to let her do it! 🙁 I baby Lucy. Maybe even more than I baby Phoebe! Poor Lucy. Am I ruining her life?

  49. I was reading through this article after watching Toddlers & Tiara’s & this goes deeper than what people think. Mother’s who force their child in beauty pageants or who pressure their daughter’s don’t realize the damage they are doing. I saw an episode where the mother was constantly being critical of her daughter, and then when her daughter won she said she was proud of her & said that they would work on not being so critical of themselves. I have a feeling that the little girl would end up growing up with self esteem issues.

    I’ve seen episodes where the mother’s only put their daughter’s in pageants for fun & don’t believe in going over the top. I rememer seeing an episode where there was one mom who actually didn’t allow heavy make up or racy outfits on her daughter. This mother got most of her daughter’s wear from bargain stores as she thought it was ridiculous to spend so much money on a dress which I agree with. When her daughter didn’t win the grand supreme but won a good title, she was still proud of her & asked her daughter if she had fun overall. Then her daughter said she did have fun & that’s what counted. Some mom’s are decent, but yes there are other mom’s who will do anything or go above and beyond for their daughter to win.

    Pageant mothers need to set clear boundaries of what is okay & what is NOT okay. They also need to know when to draw the line & to be prepared if the child doesn’t want to do pageants anymore.

  50. i agree with this article. but don’t you think natural pageants would be a better option? they don’t require all the makeup, hair extensions, flippers, fake nails, etc. actually, they usually ban all of those things

  51. It isn’t just pageants, but anything competitive. Football, gymnastics, dance. People should stop acting like pageants are the only thing people force their kids to do. Crazy parents are push their children to play sport,because they want them to play for something larger as an adult, when they have a better chance at winning the lottery is just ridiculous. Kids die everyday, a pedophile might be lurking through your facebook pics of your child playing on a playground. And there have been kids who play sports that have died of heat exhaustion while at practice. Teaching your child that they have to be the best is terrible, but it’s in anything that you can get competing about…they just haven’t made a show for national t.v. about it yet, well I take that back, they did make one about dance called Dance Moms. What’s next? Gymnastics? Football Dads?

    1. I think they are a good thing but not to baby’s or small children I’m nearly 12 and doing a pageant soon I think.

  52. Sorry for so many typos, auto correct is not my friend tonight, and I’d usually take the time to correct them it’s just that the battery on my phone is about to go.

  53. Hello, I am an I.B. Freshman at my high school, for my English final I must do a research paper and I am doing mine on the mental effects of beauty pageants. I was wondering if I could conduct an email interview with you sometime. I really want to get an ‘A’ on this paper, so I thought after I read your post I would ask you if you would be open to email interviews, it would mean a lot to me. Thanks!

    1. Hello, Emma! Thank you for your message. And yes, you can contact me and send me your questions. I hope I can help. Please do include a deadline for my answer, so that we make sure it will get to you on time.

      Have a great weekend!

  54. I wanted to post a reply in regards to how informative this article was for me. I always wondered who I was, struggled with depression, became anxious (especially in large groups and in front of people), and introverted. Now I know it was not because of anything I did to myself. It was because of the things my mother put me through when I was younger. Everything I knew I was told to do and be. I’m still trying to find out who it is I am. I don’t want to please others anymore, only myself. This article was a life changer for me. I’ve hated myself for too long…time for that to change.

    1. Lucia Grosaru

      Thank you, Brittney, for your message and feedback.

      Also, congratulations for the new things you’ve discovered about yourself and for the courage to be in contact with your inner self the way you did.

      Enjoy your new journey!

      Best wishes,
      Lucia Grosaru

  55. i am doing a research paper on this subject and it is unbellivabble what is going on durring and befor these pageants. what are we teaching children?! what is wrong with our society where we have to dress up little girls in seductive outfits? all of these children sadly to say will be messed up because of this. All of this needs to end. Making your child dress ways and plaster makeup to their face is teaching them right?! ha noo these kids now think they to look their best and win they have to be tan skinny have perfect teeth wear soo muchmakeup and look the way we dont want our kids to look. again, what are we teaching these girls?

  56. Thank you for your article.
    I dont think I could agree more though we have nothing like these competitions here in Finland. I think you have to be 16 to enter a small beauty competition in your own town.

    It breaks my heart to see this competitions.
    Unbelievable that a mother would put her own child through all that. Isnt she beautiful enough just as she is…?

    I sure know mine is. Shes so beautifull with her messy hair, chocolate covered face and muddy clothes I can hardly believe my eyes <3

  57. I completely agree with everything you have written here; I also have no idea why the show “toddlers and tiaras” is still airing on television. I have seen snippets of it on youtube and it is truly disturbing. Perhaps we need to see these things on happen in real life on television to realize what not to do to our children?

  58. I found this article to be a very interesting read.
    I was wondering whether you have any references or sources to support your article? I would like to use your article in my classwork and need to provide details of any references or sources you may have used.
    Thank you very much 🙂

  59. Im writhing a paper on toddlers and tiaras for my class….. im persuading that its bad… and your website helped a lot!! love to talk so i can ask question!!

  60. I am writing a speech about this topic in school. I shared many of your views and this supported many opinions I had on the matter. It’s very interesting looking into how the pageant world really is like and what a superficial vibe there is to them. I read a story about an 8 year old who was getting botox after other pageant mums suggested it to her mother. I can’t believe that things have got so out of hand! It saddens me to see this kind of thing happening to children so young!

  61. In my personal opinion, beauty pageants are a way for a mother or their close relative to live their dreams through their child. I find it unbelievable some of the things which these children are forced to wear and disgusting that there is a TV show advertising it to many more families (Toddlers and Tiaras). In some photographs published on the internet there are pictures (the youngest of which I have seen at 5 MONTHS!) of children dressed in outfits similar to what a prostitute may wear and during the talent part of a Glitz pageant, proceeding to enhance the way they look with sexual dance routines. It is Disgusting.

  62. Hi, i was wondering what the ethics of kids attending beauty pageants. Also, ethics towards their physical, mental, and emotional. ethics for them thinking highly of themselves, and having their own definition of beauty. Thank you so much. It’s for an argumentative essay.

  63. There was one small fallacy I spotted in the post and that was the mentioning of pedophiles. Pedophiles are not attracted the youth or what they might think as being the “sexiness” of the youth but rather the vulnerability that it engenders. Most pedophiles aren’t going to be attending pageants to look for a girl or boy to molest, especially not since JonBennet when most (if not all) pageants were completely closed to the public–only the family, who paid a high admission fee–can attend, so the children are more likely to be molested/raped by someone closest to them (father, brother, uncle, cousin, neighbor, etc). Pedophiles often do not have stable adult relationships because they are often the abuser of their significant other; the abuse on children is less about sex but the psychological pleasure of knowing they can dominate someone weaker than them. (By-the-way, this is in no way me trying to justify or legitimize what pedophiles do.) If you, meaning anyone, hasn’t seen the documentary “Just Melvin, Just Evil” I highly recommend it, but it is rather graphic and frank.

  64. How many pageants did you attend in order to write this article? How many parents and contestants did you speak to? How many older girls did you contact (that did many pageants when they were younger) to talk about how they are now?

    Unless extensive research was done- and the answer to all of my questions is a large volume of interviews of kids now and those that participated for many years – then what purpose is your own opinion? You don’t know these girls – you don’t know their parents and you certainly have no right to judge like you have.

    Is judging people that you don’t know a subject in your psychology course? You make huge assumptions about mothers living through their children – and while I don’t know every pageant contestant around the world – I would be confident in saying that it would be the absolute exception for this to be the case.

    Talk of pedophilia is pathetic. If someone is choosing to look at small children in a sexual way HOW is that the child’s fault? Should we ban all forms of dance (because their make-up, costumes and fake bits far outweigh many pageants) – or stop sport or going to the beach????

    “Professionals” like you are the problem in the world. Kids are more and more ‘judged’ every day and it seems those that train to help them, judge them more than anyone.

    1. Dear Jackie,

      Thank you for your opinion.

      In response to your message I will only mention the following: Psychology Corner is a blog and by definition it implies personal views and opinions. This particular article isn’t meant to judge anyone. As you can see, I’ve also mentioned (possible) positive effects of these activities and I haven’t used generalizations (so I haven’t included every parent and every pageant child in a single category).

      And no, my psychology courses did not include subjects like judging people, but they did include psychological observations, the study of personality, pathology and mental illness etiology.

      Funny thing is you don’t know me or my background either. 🙂

      Last thing, your comment, although it does include your opinion and I am okay with that, I am not okay with certain biases – for example, I’ve never said that attracting pedophiles’ attention was any of the child’s fault, but I’ve said that the parents expose their children to situations that may attract this kind of attention.

      All the best,
      Lucia Grosaru

    2. in think its wrong for little girls to be waring fake eyelashes waxing i mean come on there practicly fake its stupid i am 13 and dont even think obout that stuff its wasting ur life

  65. thank you Lucia for your blog. I really appreciate your ideas here, i don’t know if how these guys analyzed your blog. but one thing is for sure i believe, that is, you have keen enough Ma’am to have noticed these changes and reaction especially in using psychological methods and analysis. would you allow me Ma’am Lucy, if ill gonna use some of your citations in my class discussion pertaining to pageantry? thanks ahead Ma’am for your response.

  66. One thing I would recommend is using spell check. I am using this as a high school paper source and it is hard to count this wonderful information as reliable with so many errors.

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