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How Young is Too Young for Beauty Pageants?

2017 Alabama International Girl Royalty. Photo: International Girl Pageants Facebook
2017 Alabama International Girl Royalty. Photo: International Girl Pageants Facebook

Parents and guardians have one of the coolest jobs on earth. Being able to nurture and watch tiny little beings grow into amazing people with unique traits all their own is quite amazing. I have three of my own (two girls and a boy), each with such different likes and dislikes, talents and hobbies. (Read: 5 Secrets to Make Your Pageant Paperwork More Interesting)

It’s our job as parents to guide our children in making proper choices. When they are so little that they may not have a voice or may not understand long-term affects on decisions at this age, we need to be a strong voice for them.

With pageants, like any activity, it is important to do your research about the benefits of different systems. As long as your motives as a parent are proper, there’s plenty of fun to be had for little ones in pageant competitions!

How Young is Too Young for Beauty Pageants?

I’m a huge fan of pageants and always have been. Of course, I want my girls to love pageants just as much as I do. One certainly does, while the other literally runs screaming in the other direction! It took some time, but I learned how to be okay with that.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely a pageant fan, too. Maybe you’re newer to the scene or a veteran through and through. We all know the amazing benefits of pageantry for children and are able to go to bat for the industry. (Read: How to Overcome Pageant Criticism From Friends and Family)

2016-2017 Miss Royalty International titleholders at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Photo: Miss Royalty International Facebook.
2016-2017 Miss Royalty International titleholders at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Photo: Miss Royalty International Facebook.

Developing self-confidence is one of the biggest aspects. When my oldest daughter was younger, she was struggling in some areas and we asked if she’d like to try a pageant. She was so excited to try something new! (Read: 7 Ways To Get Winning Pageant Confidence)

I watched a shy little girl on the Friday of state check-in develop into a glowing and confident titleholder by Sunday afternoon. I saw her make such positive strides I could have never expected during her year. Six years later and some titles later, she’s used this high level of self-confidence in other areas, such as in the classroom and at gymnastics competitions. (Read: How to Keep Your Pageant Confidence High During Competition Week)

Other benefits such as learning how to interact with peers, developing lifelong communication skills and understanding the value of good sportsmanship while reaping rewards such as scholarship money and prizes are icing on the cake for young contestants!

2016-2017 National and International Elite Royalty for United States Personality Pageants. Photo: www.personalitypageants.org, courtesy of Holly Mead Photography.
2016-2017 National and International Elite Royalty for United States Personality Pageants. Photo: www.personalitypageants.org, courtesy of Holly Mead Photography.

Before you decide to put your young child in a pageant, consider your motives. Understand that when they are very little, they can’t make the choice and it is you making it for them. Children are like sponges and will absorb what you teach, so use caution in the messages you send while competing. The best interests of the child need to be considered, and as long as your intentions are copacetic, go hit the stage and have a blast together!

“Even toddlers can verbally and physically express an interest in being on stage and in front of an audience,” said Mary Swenson, pageant coach and owner of Confidence and Poise, LLC. “I know many little ones who love the spotlight! Pageants can be a great avenue to allow girls to be on stage in a supportive, fun environment.”

Our family has had so much fun on our oldest daughter’s pageant journey! We’ve had four great nationals experiences, which included three trips to Florida and one to the Mall of America. We make each experience family time and capitalize on just being able to enjoy time together and cheer her on during the competitions. We’ve always made sure to stress the real value of pageants while she competes. (Read: 5 Ways to Travel to Nationals)

“Pageants can be a fun, family event for any age,” Swenson said. “When the parents have a positive attitude and keep everything in perspective, pageants can encourage confidence and positive experiences for the whole family.”

2017 Global Elite Miss (Dream Girls USA) National Tiny Miss, Ambrae Kirwin. Photo: Jen Schaefer, courtesy Andrew & Jonna Kirwin
2017 Global Elite Miss (Dream Girls USA) National Tiny Miss, Ambrae Kirwin. Photo: Jen Schaefer, courtesy Andrew and Jonna Kirwin

When choosing a system for your little one to be a part of, do your research. Talk to the directors and ask questions of other parents who have children involved. There are so many great pageants out there in which children can capture many benefits through competing. Here is a just a small sampling of pageants that have young age groups:

Global Elite Miss (formerly Dream Girls USA) is a natural system that “focuses on self-confidence, public speaking and community service.” This pageant encourages competitors from all over the world of all ages, birth to 99+ years old!

National Elite Pageants has divisions for Baby Miss at 0 to 17 months up to Miss at ages 19 to 24. This is a natural pageant with a “no fake” rule that is “looking for poised, confident, beautiful girls who want to make a difference.”

National Elite Pageants 2016 Texas titleholders. Photo: @nationalelitepageants Instragram
National Elite Pageants 2016 Texas titleholders. Photo: @nationalelitepageants Instagram

There’s such a great variety out there. Some are personality and community service focused, while others might be modeling or beauty-based. Take your time and peruse all the options out there. Think of what you would like your child to get out of the experience and match those goals up to a system. (Read: How to Choose a New Pageant System When You Have Aged Out)

Going Forward

Unfortunately, today’s media has lent a hand in framing pageantry in a negative light at times. It’s up to us – parents, fans, contestants, business owners – who are involved in the industry to collectively change that.

Don’t be “that mom.” Take care, consideration and be honest with yourself when determining if your young child will compete. Set realistic expectations and boundaries for yourself and child. Don’t be too proud to question your own motives and make sure they are in alignment with a set of core values you can be proud of.

There’s really not an age that is too young in my book. So long as your motives as a parent and/or guardian are pure, why not give it a shot? Make sure the system is the right fit for your family before moving forward. Check out tons of great pageants in our directory to get started on the journey!

Which dress do you like better?

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