Paula Dampier is a mother of four and works a full-time job as a Director of Security for a University. She has two boys and two girls. There is quite an age gap as the older two are her stepchildren. Her children range in age from 1 year to 18 years old. She is also one of our oldest family friends from when we lived in Village Green (Pineville, LA). Paula and her brother Brian are both wonderful parents.
I first looked at the cost. If it was reasonable for me, I would consider it. Could I be ok with paying the contestant fee? What would she get as a contestant? Does everyone walk away with a crown? In my case, she would have a memento of some sort of crown and it is supposed to be fun. We decided “so far so good”.
The next question I asked was whether it was a glitz pageant or a natural pageant? In my head I decided I was not doing a glitz pageant. I did not want my sweet sixteen month old “competing” with other girls (up to twenty four months) who might have fake eyelashes, mascara, hair, and fake teeth. I would only consider an all natural pageant.
I then asked how many outfit changes there were and how much I should expect to spend on each outfit.
We ended up deciding to go for it and just have fun because it was an all natural pageant. We had two dresses for the two categories. I had tights for each outfit and a headband for each (nothing more). The dresses cost thirty dollars together and I spent less than ten dollars on the coordinating accessories that she could wear again.
The day of the event we were ready for the pageant. We arrived at the castle where the pageant was to be held and had an hour to get my sixteen month old ready. I thought to myself, “Who needs an hour to change clothes? Better yet, how am I going to keep my child entertained until showtime?”
I begin to look around and see other mothers curling and applying hair spray to their daughter’s hair. I then saw moms putting make up on small children. I thought, “Isn’t this an all natural pageant?” I am told that those contestants will get docked points for that. However, it is acceptable to put age appropriate make up on the kids. My sixteen month old did not have anything on her face nor did I do anything special to her hair.
I noticed that the other contestants had dresses that were true pageant dresses. The mother next to me advised that these pageant dresses averaged several hundred dollars. I was stunned that people would pay this type of money just to do a fun pageant! If all of this weren’t enough, I then noticed that the contestant next to us was being given “pageant candy” (mind you I have no treats and ask what was pageant candy). “Pageant candy” is candy that is used to bribe a child to be good so that mom or whomever can get her ready!
I was told upon entering the pageant that it was an all level pageant. In our case, everyone in my daughter’s category had competed in no less than nine pageants and as many as twenty (everyone except us). Who were the judges? This was a very important detail. It is important to know if the judges are truly qualified and trained on what they are judging (compared to people who are just friends of the pageant coordinator).
For young contestants, I would recommend that you ask how long the pageant is expected to last. Will it be subdivided by age? What is the expected wait time between the age groups? For small children this can either make or break their experience. You do not want a lot of wait time. The pageant needs to move because little ones do not have the attention span nor the energy to wait a long time.
So there you have it- the good, bad, and ugly of child beauty pageants. Would I do it again? I don’t think so. I saw too many unhappy children and too many serious moms. I just want my child to have fun. I feel it is okay not to win or place, as long as the journey is fun. We did get crowned Princess and got best hair. However, with limited family time, I would rather find something that is truly fun and not stressful. So no “pageant candy” for Laurel!