Kids’ Beauty Pageants Gain Popularity, Draw Concern

CHICAGO (CBS) — Trophies and tiaras at very young ages; kids’ pageants have become very popular, but if your daughter wanted to be in one, would you say yes? Should you say yes?

CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman takes a look.

With her own dress rack and a corner of regal bling, 4-year-old Alyssa Seyller is a three-time pageant winner.

“They’re really fun,” Alyssa said. She said she always comes in first place, “because I really do really good.”

Seven-year old Averyona Williams has some hardware, too, including best personality and most photogenic.

She’s been in only one pageant, but said she sees more tiaras in her future.

“A lot more,” she said. “Because I want to be a star.”

CBS 2 met both girls at an entry-level mall competition. Their moms said a show gave them the beauty pageant bug.

“She watches ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ all the time,” Averyona’s mom Gina Hill said.

Alyssa’s mom, Cherie Seyller, said “she really liked it and she said ‘How do I do that? I want to get a trophy.”

In the TLC network’s ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ pageant world, kids are dolled up, even spray tanned for beauty pageants. They are coached to look and move – in some cases – like miniature women.

Asked if she thinks children’s beauty pageants sexualize children, Universal Royalty Beauty Pageant owner Annette Hill said, “of course not. … I think if you are looking at a child in that way, in a sexual way, then something is wrong with you.”

Some of Universal Royal Beauty Pageant’s contestants have been on “Toddlers and Tiaras.” Hill said she doesn’t think viewers get the real picture.

“You don’t see all the camaraderie, the patting on the back, good sportsmanship,” she said.

Seyller said “the pageants that we go to are nothing like what you see on TV.”

In the one our Hill and Seyller chose, girls walked and modeled on stage.

“It was wonderful. … Her turns were perfect,” Hill said.

As for makeup and clothing, the local pageant was more conservative than those seen on “Toddlers and Tiaras.”

“Just fun lip gloss,” Seyller said. “The level that we’re on is just for fun. It’s to boost self-esteem.”

“I wouldn’t dress her in anything that would degrade her,” Hill said.

Northwestern University psychiatry professor Dr. Mark Reinecke watched video of the mall pageant. He said, from what he saw, he’d still recommend parents proceed with caution.

“The underlying message to the young girl is that your value to others is based on your appearance,” he said.

Reinecke pointed out, even though everyone got a prize, “the one who looked like a regular kid did not win.”

If parents really want to go forward with something like this, Reinecke said, “Let a little girl be a little girl.”

Reinecke said everything in moderation; and he also said the mother/daughter time from beauty pageants can be positive.

Both moms said, when their kids say “no more pageants,” that’s fine.

The contests cost. Entry fees can run in the hundreds for state pageants. National pageants can be more expensive. Tack on dress, travel, and hotel costs, and expenses can outweigh winnings.

  • Tammy Burns

    Whenever I run across that show on TV, it angers the hell out of me. These little girls are being taught at a very young age, that the most important thing in the world is their appearance. I believe that will lead to all kinds of identity problems later on when their bodies start to mature and they have to deal with the normal aspects of dealing with it. Besides, trying to make a little girl look sexual is disgusting. I have also noticed that most of the mothers of these kids are big fat nasty pigs that could have never been in any pageant. I think they are living their own dream through their kids and it is pathetic!!!!!!!!

  • Cherie

    Tammy — I hear what you are saying and I agree with you on the TV SHOW…however, the pagents that the two girls that were featured are nothing like the ones on TV. They are for fun….where little to no makeup is allowed, there is no talent required or interview. It is for fun….and all the kids get a trophy and crown for participating.

    • Tammy Burns

      That sounds different than the show on TV. Nothing wrong with having fun as long as having fun is the object. The people on the show take it far too seriously.

  • michelle

    My daughter was in the same pageant and did better. The little girl in red had caked on makeup which is not allowed in the natural pageants. My two year old had done the same amount of pageants and won all without having makeup caked on. I am upset and offended that cbs ran this without doing its research. Sunburst is a natural pageant meaning no makeup no fake tan no fake hair but this little girl did all of that. I like pageants and enjoy doing them with my daughter and the fact that cbs cut my daughter out makes me angry. I will no longer watch cbs due to their ignorance!!!

  • michelle

    and btw tammy this is a natural pageant nothing like toddler in tiaras which is why i prefer them as do most mothers not the mother of the little girl in red though I saw her yelling and forcing her child to cake makeup on the little girl just stood there and did nothing!

  • don't watch

    If no one watched this garbage, would they even show this c@@@?.

  • Chicago News Stories for Mar 01 2012 : Travel tips, hotels, restaurants, jobs and news | Travel 2 Chicago

    […] Chicago Bulls stayed on a roll by cooling off the streaking San Antonio Spurs 96-89 Wednesday night.Kids’ Beauty Pageants Gain Popularity, Draw ConcernTrophies and tiaras at very young ages; kids’ pageants have become very popular, but if your […]

  • the rapture

    pageants are another way to make the next generation of little %$#$% –

    Think about it:

    What does walking around in pretty clothes teach the child.
    Why are there no fat girls – if there are – do they win – or is it just the pretty little ones.
    Make up or no makeup – what does strutting and thrusting your hips around really do to benefit the maturing of the girl.
    What life skills are you teaching the girls – that walking around in pretty clothes will get them what they want.

    Pageants are a waste – of time – of energy – and only serve to objectify women as little pretty playthings for anyone who has money. Stop justifying this stupid activity.

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