About 60 years ago, the management of an amusement park in New Jersey had the idea to organize a unique beauty contest (Little Miss America), which had all the ingredients of a classic contest of this kind, but with an essential difference: the contestants were girls between 5 and 8 years old. Since that event, an entire industry has grown, valued today at $5 billion, with 5,000 such competitions held each year in the United States and about 250,000 participating children.
Although controversial, children’s beauty pageants are a booming business in the United States. Thousands of girls parade on stage with make-up and hairstyles like women in all their nature. Parents pay thousands of dollars to prepare their children, and usually, the grand prize doesn’t even cover the investment.
How Much Do Child Beauty Pageants Cost?
There are many different ways beauty pageants are organized. For instance, in order to participate in some of them, parents have to sell “sponsor tickets”, which cost anywhere between $5 and $25. Using these tickets someone can take part in the show and after this, the ticket can be used for a raffle.
Be prepared to spend anywhere between $25 and $800 just for the entry fee. The costs get higher as the pageants are more prestigious.
For instance, the booking fee for the Alumni of Dream Girls USA Pageant is around $190, while The Baby Miss America Pageant doesn’t require you to pay any entry fee.
If you take into consideration the costs of the outfits, the gown, the entry fee, the travel costs, the coaching and make-up, a beauty pageant would cost somewhere between $850 to more than $4,600.
According to a woman who was interviewed by Today.com, the entry fee for a beauty pageant was around $420 and she paid $4,100 for the sparkling dress. Also, she spent $330 to $550 for the costume and $60 for a professional coaching session.
After interviewing more families, researchers from Harvard found that an average family spends $120 to $230 for a beauty pageant and participates at almost five in a year.
According to Bankrate, the entry fee starts at $30 and goes up to more than $500.
Child beauty pageant details
There are many different types of pageants available for children from all over the country who want attention or just love being on stage. Pageants will require your child to wear a particular outfit, perform in an interview and showcase their talent.
Every competition follows strict rules which you can read all about before registering, so make sure you meet those standards because failing does result in instant disqualification, but also potentially losing points.
Those who can participate at the most beauty pageants are usually between four months and 15 years old.
No matter the outcome, there are pageants that reward all the contestants, while others have special prizes offered for “the most photogenic”, for example. A medal is usually included, or some sort of memorabilia or certificate. Though, in most cases, the top three winners are offered a cash prize that can be anywhere between $60 and even $11,000. Compared to the adult payouts, the ones for child pageants are lower.
What are the extra costs?
You should take into consideration the travel expenses because most beauty pageants for children are pretty far away, one from another.
Depending on the brand, style, and preferences, be prepared to spend $160 to more than $5,000 for outfits like dresses or swimwear.
Besides the clothing, there are extra costs for the hairstyle and make-up if done by a professional. Also, you can buy wigs, artificial teeth, and tanning.
If you hire a professional for coaching sessions, it would cost you $45 to $90 per one-hour session.
Important things to consider
You should have a background check done on the pageant before you let your child join. There are no regulating agencies for pageants, so it is easy for scammers to pretend they’re reputable pageant organizers. Always look for a pageant that has been in business for years and has a history.
Pros and cons of beauty pageants
Beauty contests focus not only on physical appearance but also on children’s talents. This is an argument of parents who enroll their children. It is true, just as it is true that there are natural contests, in which children are not made to wear make-up and dress extravagantly. But even in these, the winner gets the prize primarily for his beauty. But what does it mean in life to be voted the cutest?
It is an unnatural and harmful behavior, as psychologists say, because it teaches girls, from this young age, that physical appearance is everything and that it is important to always look their best because that’s the only way they have a chance to reach success.
Beauty pageants sexualize children – this is the most important criticism against them. Some may say that this is not the case, but clearly, there are competitions in which the child is transformed into a sexualized doll.
Beauty pageants help your child make friends. Is it true? Many of these competitions are so fierce that it is hard to imagine that the participants can make friends. Rather, children are taught to be falsely friendly, to lie (“even if you don’t win, to say you’re happy for the other contestant” or “if you win, don’t look too arrogant”, etc.).
Beauty pageants encourage the child to win, to be competitive. It is obvious that competitiveness is stimulated, but how good is the fierce spirit of competition for the child? Isn’t it preferable for a child not to want to win at all costs? Parents say they tell their children it doesn’t matter if they win or not, but that doesn’t always happen.
How can I save money?
Before submitting to participate at a beauty pageant inform about the value of the prize and if it is worth the effort.