General Question

SuperMouse's avatar

Why do parents put their children in pageants?

Asked by SuperMouse (30845points) April 25th, 2009

You know the ones I’m talking about. I’ve watched a couple of episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras on TLC. Aside from the fact that they dress these children like dolls, give them a sexual look that is wildly inappropriate for young kids, and think it is cute for them to do suggestive dances moves, I can’t for the life of me figure out why parents would make that much extra work for themselves! It is tough enough to raise a kid, but add in having to make them sit still for make-up and tanning and get them to learn a dance routine, I just can’t fathom it. Please don’t mistake this as a question only for parents of girls, there are plenty of moms who subject their boys to it!

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37 Answers

Blondesjon's avatar

Because they are fucktarded.

sorry uber

casheroo's avatar

I really don’t understand it at all. I can’t imagine my kid coming up to me and asking to be in a pageant…and if they did, I’d most likely indulge it, but not go to the extremes.
I find what those types of parents, like the ones in Toddlers and Tiaras, to be highly disturbing…I just can’t fathom their motivation or how they think it’s right to bleach a childs hair or teeth, or dress them so sexually. I also don’t understand how it’s enjoyable for the children.
I’ll admit, I’ve been in a pageant or two, but it was by my choice. When we got there, we saw how intensely competitive it was. Obviously I didn’t fit in, but I had fun making fun of everyone with my mother. lol

El_Cadejo's avatar

Its fucking disgusting.

thanks for making me change my answer right before i clicked….ass :P

Blondesjon's avatar

@uberbatmani bought the ticket. i rode the ride.

AstroChuck's avatar

Because these parents are insecure about their own lives and have to live vicariously through their children.

pandamonia's avatar

Interesting question…

Judi's avatar

I think it starts because they believe they have the most beautiful child in the world. They are all wrong of course, because my grand children are the most beautiful children in the world. They see an ad for a pageant, enter the first one and then get sucked in. I could never do it. I am just not competitive enough. I think it must be like gambling or something. It becomes addictive.

YARNLADY's avatar

As an event planner, I would like to give a different view of it. First: the producers of the shows you are seeing on TV have an agenda that they are working from.

Second: In the local, charity beauty shows, the parents and the children are there for a good time, to brag some (which is perfectly natural) and to raise money for the charity.

Third: children move their bodies in ways that are normal and natural and to assume they are “sexually suggestive” can be misleading. Yes, it is a natural part of human existence to be sexually attractive, and even young children feel that. It not a bad thing, and only an adult, with all their social baggage will see it that way. I’ve read some perverted adults will say “but she was flirting with me”. Only a damaged adult will act on such a belief.

Forth: In the local charity shows, no “enhancements” of any kind are allowed. No make up, no dyed hair, and such. The clothes are the only “extravagance” that you will see.

Darwin's avatar

My neighbor once upon a time did it because he wanted the prize money. His daughter got even unintentionally by calling the judge something that three-year-olds are not even supposed to be able to pronounce much less say clearly. The neighbor was very angry at her until I asked him wherever could she have learned that word, since she doesn’t even go to daycare.

He stopped talking to me and girdled a vine I had growing on our mutual fence, but left his daughter alone.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Darwin It’s amazing to me to hear the words that come out of the mouths of ‘babies’ so to speak. My sweet, angelic, next door neighbor girl used to call people the A word, and it just made me sick, but to her it was a normal, everyday word.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I would never allow my child to enter a competition like “Toddlers and Tiaras”. They are so sexually suggestive and disgusting that I feel like throwing up every time I even see a commercial for it. I refuse to even give the show ratings and make sure to change the channel quickly if I stumble upon it.

More than half of those girls look like they could pose in Playboy. Everything from their hair, to their makeup, to their clothes. And I’m sorry – BIKINI modeling?! Fucking hell… I hate people.

emperorofcali's avatar

It’s funny to see people cop the typical reaction of disgust to a question like this, when in actuality, parents exploit their kids in far more sinister ways than just enrolling them in pageants. Why do parents insist that their kids perform “tricks” by a certain age for relatives (reciting ABCs, counting to 10, and other stunts that show how great their parents are for training them to bark on command)? Pageant entries are just a gross exaggeration of a sickness that a majority of parents are afflicted with. Many parents are obsessed with putting their kids on display. They will say, “Look at my kid, it does tricks.” They will find judges. They will parade their kids in silly outfits. And they will take pride. For many of them, this is why they had kids in the first place. 30 some odd years of futility is a really hard thing to look in the mirror and choke down sometimes.

Blondesjon's avatar

@emperorofcali,...So uh, what tricks can you do?

emperorofcali's avatar

@blondesjon is that a proposition?

Blondesjon's avatar

it’s a request

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@emperorofcali I don’t disagree with you about a lot of parents wanting to put their children on display in many different aspects. But at least with the ABCs and counting to 10 you’re actually teaching your child valuable aspects of language and math, which is something they need both of.

Pageants are pure exploitation and the children learn nothing.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

They are living vicariously through their children. These will be the same mothers that attend their daughter’s every cheerleading practice. We had one of those on my squad in highshool, and her daughter felt totally smothered and pressured.

YARNLADY's avatar

@DrasticDreamer In that, you are mistaken. The children can learn how to be polite, how to remain composed, or to deal with loss of composure, and how to deal with loss. These are all valuable lessons that last a life time, and are very similar to the lessons that we are told athelitic competitions teach (predominately to boys). Let me hasten to add that my son was a star athlete from the age of 6, in addition to being a dancer in a number of stage performances.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Maybe they can learn some positives, so I will take back what I said. However, I will simply change it to the fact that pageants like “Toddlers and Tiaras” cause more harm than good. It’s hard to find anything that’s all bad, but that doesn’t mean it’s good, either.

YARNLADY's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I agree. The National Pagaent circuit is full of a lot of the negative and they concentrate on that part on the show.

emperorofcali's avatar

@DrasticDreamer no doubt those are valuable things for a child to learn. But I question the motives of any parent that needs their kid to put on a recital in front of others, no matter whether it’s scholastic or performance. This is what people do with dogs. When you start making it a question of virtue, you’re going to get people like yarnlady who – at least in her world – finds as much virtue in mannerism and composure as you might find in ABCs. And these things are both virtuous. But both also have 2 more things in common: A) They can be learned by the child on their own, in time, without someone having to try and make them a spectacle or prodigy out of them, and B) They don’t have to be put on display and basically be exploited for the dog-owner-mentality parent’s own ego.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I agree that lessons can be learned from these pageants, but the level of competition that this question revolves around is more negative than positive for such small children. There are much better ways to teach them the same lessons.

YARNLADY's avatar

@emperorofcali I take it you are also against the spelling bee’s and the National Science competition that put children on display for their scholastic achievement, instead of talent and looks. (or maybe in addition, since they seem to have all).

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@emperorofcali If any parents want their children to do something just to show them off – whether it’s scholastic or not – it becomes wrong. If they support their child in something the child enjoys and does because they think it’s fun, it’s different.

Any parent who pushes their child into any kind of public competition has some issues.

emperorofcali's avatar

@YARNLADY against spelling bees? They’re nice dog shows, sure. But I don’t really get off on kids sweating and hyperventilating and acting like the entire world is on their shoulders because they might miss a vowel. No, I’m really not into seeing kids act like 50 year old men at the stock market. Kids are supposed to enjoy their childhoods, not act like stressed out adults. But I imagine this is the very type of thing that stressed out adults love to see, because misery loves company as the saying goes. Make learning a competition, instead of an individual pursuit! Beat em all! No, all this really does is churn out another robotic adult who will spend their lives trying to look good, while secretly resenting the urge to always have to “look good”. If the joy of learning or performing doesn’t begin with their own personal excitement, then yes, I suspect the motives of anyone who tries to shove them under a spotlight, or encourage these silly “competitions”.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@YARNLADY How do those even compare? Was that a real question?

emperorofcali's avatar

@DrasticDreamer if it’s just a question of who instigates the activity then like you say, yes, I’m totally for it. Be a star, and I’ll be a stargazer and pass everyone the telescope, too. Why not? But they find their own orbit.

KalWest's avatar

“Because they are fucktarded…”
aaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!! LOL

cookieman's avatar

@emperorofcali: Much lurve for your answers. You are right on target.

It amazes me how many parents don’t treat their children as thinking, feeling human beings.

To many they are play things to be put on display either for the amusement of others or to make the parents look good.

Your job as a parent, IMHO, is to create a safe environment for your kid to explore and play and learn and make mistakes. Introduce them to various activities, ways of learning, etc. Then you support their interests.

What many do is graft their own interests onto their child mistakenly assuming they’re little clones of them. And for some, it takes a dark turn when they choose to live vicariously through that child.

If there’s a void in your life, don’t fill it with your son or daughters childhood.

YARNLADY's avatar

@BBSDTfamily Was that a real question, well, you see the response. To those people who are against any competition, I guess they do compare. I was very proud to be part of the Spelling Bee and Science competitions in school, and I don’t believe I have felt such a great pleasure about anything in my life, until I had my first son.

Jude's avatar

What Astrochuck said. I find the whole thing ridiculous and disturbing.

aleks's avatar

Have you seen the movie ‘Little Miss Sunshine’?

cookieman's avatar

@aleks: Yes. Excellent movie.

MissAusten's avatar

I find those over-the-top pageants disturbing. I guess if one of my kids really wanted to do something like that I’d let them, but since they’d show up with their own clothes, no makeup, and their own hair, they probably wouldn’t get very far.

As for making them show off—one thing I’ve learned as a parent is that children rarely perform on command. My daughter could sing the ABCs before she was 18 months old. She’d wake up at two in the morning and sing it to us. If we asked her to sing it for her grandparents, she’d do something else entirely. Here we were with this genius child, and we couldn’t even show her off! ;)

SuperMouse's avatar

While I personally find these pageants stomach churning, I think it is wrong to lump all competitive events and recitals in the same category. In my mind there is a huge difference between my kid playing little league or play in a piano recital . There is a huge benefit for children in these things. With sports, kids are learning the importance of team work, how to be gracious winners and losers, and trying their hardest. With recitals kids have learned a skill that they can carry through life, they are being exposed to the arts and learning grace and style. I also cant lump academic contests in with these pageants. Kids competing in spelling bees and science competitions are, as a rule, old enough to decide to enter or not, and they are learning all of the things listed above, plus they are flexing their minds.

I see very little of value in these pageants, and the children involved (especially the youngest ones) seem nothing short of exploited for their parent’s need for attention.

Darwin's avatar

While my daughter was little, complete strangers would come up to me in public and hand me their card, saying that she was so beautiful she really should be a model. She wasn’t old enough to know what that would entail so I always smiled and said thank you, took the card, and then later disposed of it in the nearest trash bin.

The only exception was when the film processing lab folks asked permission to use a picture I had taken of her in an ad campaign. She was three at the time and thought it was a cool idea so I said yes and put the money in her bank account. For some time afterward her picture popped up in the various branches of the store and at the mall and she had fun when people told her they saw it.

As she got older, she heard other girls admiring models and actresses and so she decided she wanted to be one or the other. Since actress was one of her choices, I took her down to the community theater and we both auditioned for parts in various plays. She learned a lot about how to handle rejection, how to project when on stage, how to smile even when you don’t feel happy, and how to work as a member of a team. She also learned that she didn’t want to be an actress, although she was quite capable of singing a solo in front of 500 people.

So next we tried modeling. We did a couple of photo shoots and she discovered that modeling is really boring. It is all about surface appearance and has nothing to do with who you are. On top of that, the clothes were often uncomfortable.

Although I could have put her into those pageants and possibly she would have done well, I chose not to subject her to anything like that unless she asked to do it. Her major preference was sports, so she played a lot of sports. She had a few dance classes, a year or two of piano lessons, some gymnastics lessons, and some tennis lessons, all at her request. The only thing I ask of her is that she finish out a season or a class interval because it isn’t fair to anyone to quit in the middle.

Kids are people from the very beginning and although we as parents should guide them, we need to be aware of what they like to do and what their talents are.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

My daughter was given an invitation to participate in the American Miss pageant preliminaries. We asked HER to make the choice as to whether or not she wanted to do it. The only reason we would have agreed was because there was no swimsuit competition, no talent to perform, and a no makeup for girls under 12 rule.

She decided she didn’t want to go. We were fine with either choice.

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