Would you like your young daughter to be the next Dream Girl USA?

| July 4, 2008 | 22 Replies

If you’d like your young daughter to be the next Dream Girl USA, take a look at this photo essay published by the St. Louis Riverfront Times. The National Little Miss Dream Girl Pageant gave this photographer wide access to many aspects of the pageant.

These photos contained in the slide shows tell it all: exploited children, numerous frumpy mothers, most mothers with bizarre values, absent fathers, and a sponsoring organization that works hard to over-sexualize little girls.  It’s a story that has been told repeatedly, yet many people keep supporting this sort of activity.

For a comment on the sexualization of young girls, see this previous post.

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Category: American Culture, Psychology Cognition, Sex

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (22)

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  1. Erich, You just proved that any so called "journalist" can write just about anything they want….but it doesn't make it true though. Dream Girls USA Pageants has a 13 year solid reputation and our website speaks for itself. REAL GIRLS WITH REAL GOALS…. These girls and families enjoy a positive forum to participate and they've clocked in literally thousands of hours of community service hours as we promote community involvement. I'm also a big supporter of performing arts and we showcase strong talent at our events. Our fun free workshops help the girls work on public speaking an interview skills…skills for lifetime success. The slideshows on Dream Girls USA Pageants website tells a story and shows real girls having fun and on the go! It isn't all about winning a pageant Erich. We promote a well rounded girl. To any journalist who loves to sensationalize pageantry, "all pageants are not created equal". I've been called by dozens of TV shows and I always say no because the MEDIA loves to always put a negative slant on any pageant, just like you show in your "review" which was brought to my attention from one of our families who love to be a part of our "program". You ought to hear what they thought of YOU….

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Melissa: I'm happy to post your comment–I'll even post the website to "Dream Girls USA." http://www.dreamgirlsusapageant.com/home

    We will simply have to agree to disagree, I'm afraid.

    I think that women and girls have better things to do than this: http://www.dreamgirlsusapageant.com/2008_national

    There is good reason to think that by sexualizing young girls, that you are warping their priorities away from accomplishing important things later in life. You talk about skills, but I think that the 2 minutes you give each girl for "skills" is unimpressive. I'd love to see your judges' scorecards, to see how much of it relates to physical appearance. I'll bet that appearance is the overall focus of your pageant. It certainly seems to be, based on your website. In my opinion, appearance (at least, the appearance based on wearing princess dresses and tiaras) shouldn't be important at all.

    Looking at my original post, I shouldn't have called some of the mothers "frumpy." That was a low blow. What I was trying to suggest is that the mothers were pressuring their daughters to live the MOTHER's dreams. It seems so obvious and counter-productive to me.

  3. Randie says:

    This is one of the frumpy mothers. How interesting that you have decided that girls who enter pageants do so only because their frumpy mothers are trying to live vicariously through their children. You must not be the father to a girl over the age of 6 and know that you cannot force a young girel to do anything they do not want to do–besides go to sleep and do homework, of course. You also have never seen the incandescent smile on a young girl's face as that crown is placed on her head. I am wondering where you come up with bizarre values–is it bizarre to want your child to succeed? Bizarre to want recognition for a job well done? Bizarre to be proud of a child that can give a speech in front of hundreds of people, handle an interview with grace and ease, perfrom a talent with skill and poise? If so, then I guess I have bizarre values. When launching your tirade against this wonderful organization, did you stop for a second to learn that this is a community service based program? That the queens perform at homeless shelters, ring bells for the Salvation army, make easter baskets for foster children, raise money for cancer reserach, and on and on and on? Wearing a pretty dress does not sexualize anyone. l it does it make you lift you head a little higher and make your steps float like you are on air. No one wears a bathing suit in this pageant or does anything that remotely smacks of inappropriate behavior.

    The scorecards relate to many, many different aspects of a contestant–physical beauty, of course, but so much more than that–inner beauty, confidence, poise, grace–things you probably could never possess. If developing such skills, along with the ability to get along with others of different backgrounds and creeds will warp you for later life, then i say start the warping. The ability to accomplish important things later in life is encouraged, enhanced and supported by this pageant and by giving these girls the knowledge they can do anything. I have a 13 year old who is an honor student, captain of her poms team, competive irish dancer and–oh yeah–a state pageant queen with over 300 hours of community service to her name since age 11. Guess you think only basketball and volleyball players can grow up to be productive members of society. I'll pit my beauty queen with a heart of gold against your sports team player anyday for lessons learned, skills developed and the drive to succeed in whatever she decides to do. Oh by the way, she is going to be a a marine biologist–does that fit your definition of accomplishing important things later in life? Sure fits mine. As a former journalism major and criminal lawyer for over 23 years, I never comment on things I know nothing about, lessons I learned in journalism and law school–too bad you didn't learn the same lesson. Instead of assuming the mothers are frumps and the girls are all Playboy bunnies in the making, try talking to a few. You'll be amazed at what you can learn. After all, isn't that what a journalist is supposed to do, interview, gather information and then report, without making value judgements or giving their own opinions, except on the op ed page? Guess you also missed that lesson in school. The only thing obvious here is your complete lack of knowledge about Dream Girls Usa Pageants and your cheap attempt at sensationalizing a fun, positive, enriching experience for girls of all ages and backgrounds. Counter-productive is a journalist tearing down an organisation without having even a rudimentary understanding of what it is or how it operates. Spouting off uninformed opinions and labelling them as truth is the worst kind of misquided journalism. The only one doing any exploiting here is you. How bizarre indeed. To badly misquote, journalist, heal thyself and try not to talk about things you know absolutely nothing about.

  4. Sam Rackham says:

    Erich! You accuse the pageant moms of ''pressuring their daughters to live the M0THER's dreams.'' As a peageant dad I know this is nonsense. In our case it's something my wife and daughter enjoy doing together and I'm proud of both of them. If I had a son who loved sports I'd probably encourage him to participate in Little League baseball, Pop Warner football or whatever sport he may be interested in. Would you then accuse me of pressuring my son to live my dreams? Do you have any children? If so do you encourage them to pursue their interests be it sports, science fairs, pageants or whatever or do you restrict what interests they may pursue?

  5. Supposed Frumpy NaNa says:

    Erich….This is one of the Supposed "Frumpy" NaNa's of a Dream Girls USA National Queen….What a Gem you are, What a Piece of Work…Whats the problem, what the matter…..Did a Prom Queen reject you when you were younger??? Have you entered any of your children into a Pageant and they did not have enough poise, talent and personality to win??? How Dare you criticize Dream Girls USA. You truly know nothing about Dream Girls USA or the Founders and Directors. Dream Girls USA is truly a "Family" a great bunch of individuals all around. The State Director and National Director could not be anymore about the young ladies involved in their system. Everything is set up in the upmost greatest taste and appropriate or it simply is not allowed. Dream Girls USA is about "REAL" Girls and "REAL" Women. No-one is EXPLOITED, No-one is being SEXUALIZED in any way, shape or form. There is no living through children to achieve a Queens Title. As I stated as a NaNa to one of Dream Girls USA's youngest National Queens, there was nothing fake on her. She wore no make-up, she wore no fake hair, she wore no revealing clothing, NOTHING. She did her talent, she did her public speaking and she was voted Queen based on her poise and abilities for her age. She takes her reign as a Dream Girls USA National Queen very seriously. She, for her young age, clock hundreds of hours of community service. She adopted numerous platforms to help people. She does so many things for the military, for Diabetes, for Cancer, for Alzheimers. She goes and visits with the elderly, she helps out at Animal Shelters, she was named a Jr Spokesperson for a USA Foundation that helps Vicitims of Natural Disasters. She was awarded The Key to the City from the Mayor of her Community. She helps at Food Shelters and she takes her chore money, bday money and spare change she can collect from her family to sponser a child the same age as her in Africa who has Aids every month. ALL OF THIS DONE under the age of 10., and with a seriously disability of going LEGALLY BLIND……I guess she has no structure, she is not preparing or thinking about her future, by partcipating in Dream Girls USA she is being exploited, brainwashed, Sexualized, by your standards. Since she is not sinking baskets in a recreation league, or running around on a soccer field every weekend trying to kick a small ball into a net, or pick up a metal bat and hit a tiny white ball across a dirt and grass field, but instead singing and dancing, public speaking about what she likes, her favorite color and what she wants to be when she IS GROWN UP she simply is being lived through by her "Frumpy" family. I guess her tiny 100lb beautiful supposed "frumpy" mom is trying to live through her… I guess her Father is never around her, never proud of her, NEVER dresses up in Tux's beaming with pride to introduce her to the crowds. At her age NO-ONE forced her to partcipate in Dream Girls USA, no-one in her family held a Gun to her head, no-one in Dream Girls USA forced her to partcipate… she was asked and it SIMPLY WAS HER DECISION to want to partcipate….SHE LIKES IT, SHE FEELS it is a way for her to do Good, SHE HAS MADE LIFETIME FRIENDS, TONS of Older, Bigger and Younger SISTERS for Life…..I do not have to live through my grandchild. This "frumpy" NaNa was a community, county and State queen when I was young… Wow, I must of been exploited and sexualized….I must not of been able to put myself through school and do 20+ yrs in the Law Field, making enough money to be able to RETIRE before the age of 40 to be able to care for elderly family and my NATIONAL QUEEN. I highly suggest you get your head out of your backside Erich and before you totally attack and try to tear down a highly GREAT, FANTASTIC, FAMILY based and structure Pageant, you TOTALLY KNOW ALL THE FACTS involved, YOU INTERVIEW People INVOLVED or you put on a pretty dress and get your sorry backside on the stage and try to do what these GREAT and AWESOME "REAL" GIRLS and WOMEN DO……. . . LONG LIVE DREAM GIRLS USA!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK GOD for MISS MELISSA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Erich Vieth says:

    Here's a bit of homework for all of you pro-beauty-pageant folks: http://dangerousintersection.org/2007/02/21/the-e

    Send me another comment in 10 or 20 years to tell me whether your little beauty queens have a healthy sense of self-respect and tell me how they did in school, and beyond.

  7. Vicki Baker says:

    What about all the little boys who want to compete in beauty pageants? Shouldn't they be allowed to live out their dreams and gain all these benefits?

  8. Erich Vieth says:

    If little boys truly wanted to compete in beauty contests, I'd have no problem with them doing it. I suspect though that there is an immense amount of coercion being done. BTW, I think it's being done also to many children who are being coerced to "like" playing organized sports by their parents.

    It's too bad that parents can't stay out of their children's playtime. If little children want to go to the basement and dress up like princesses (or princes), I have no problem with it. If children choose to go outside and play pick-up sports, great.

    It gets creepy, though, when parents start taking what should be spontaneous play "on the road," with all the pressure and trophies and concocted "importance." It gets especially creepy when we find that the little girls who have adopted their parents shallow views of what it means to be a girl or a woman start hanging around at the mall and floundering in their studies, as Mary Pipher has described.

    Am I expressing concern to those parents who enthusiastically enter their girls in beauty pageants? Of course I am, and it's for the reasons I've expressed the the Pipher post. And, as you can see in the comments, many of parents strenuously disagree with me.

  9. Supposed Frumpy NaNa says:

    Erich, you truly are a sad little man. You truly are a pathetic little man. I feel very sorry for your family and anyone involved with the likes of you. So sorry you apparently have not achieved to much greatness in your life or your family life. You are just a hater of greatness others have achieved and will continue to achieve. After reading your last responses to posts, I have come to the conclussion that you and what you seem to think is really of no great importance to anyone or anyones lives. Therefore, based on that conclussion I am done responding to your non-important self and thoughts. I have to much of a great, productive family and National Queen to enjoy and that is what truly is of the upmost importance. In conclusion, get a life and get some professional therapy to get over the anger and issues you apparently have for failures in your life and your family lives that are striking out at others.

  10. Ebonmuse says:

    It seems to me that the infuriated screeching directed at Erich goes a long way towards proving his point. Some people are obviously extremely sensitive to any suggestion that the life they've chosen for their daughters might not be the best option. I don't think a career whose value was self-evident would produce such angry defensiveness.

  11. Erich Vieth says:

    Ebonmuse: You didn't even see all of the "screeching." I excised a bit of it that was pure ad hominem. I haven't seen this much passion since I criticized "homeopathic medicines."

  12. Randie says:

    How very interesting, Ebonmuse, that you take issue with people disagreeing with Erich and describe it as angry defensiveness. If a person disagrees with another, and provides support for their position, then accroding to you, it means not only defensive behavior but a realization that their choices are wrong for their daughters. Any career may be self-evident in its value to some and not to others. if you read my post, you would see i am an attorney. Many people, and some for valid reasons, do not like attorneys–does that mean if i defend my chosen career, then its value is less than obvious? I often have to defend being an attorney with some degreee of force–again, does mean I am angry and defensive? According to your logic, if we disagree with Erich, it merely serves to prove his point. Since my pageant queen, who is 13, captain of her poms team, a great lakes Scholar, selcetd as a member of the national Junior Honor Society, a staright A student and who has logged over 300 hours of community service does not need anyone to defend her–her accomplishments speak for themselves. However, when an uninformed person takes pot shots at an actvity that has brought her nothing but joy, friendship, poise, confidence and pure out and out fun, then yes, I guess i do become a tad defensive. If your child played a team sport, and someone said it was an exploitation of your child without ever watching a single game do you think you might be defensive, also? I made well reasoned arguments in my post and did not "screech." If you disagree with my points, that is your option, but it does not mean that if you do, I am being defensive. i was also raised–and am raising my daughter–to be polite to people and not name call, yet you and Erich refer to the opionions of other people as "screeching" merely because they express a different point of view. Not all pageants are the same, just as not all sports programs are the same. I will also point out that as a prosector for 16 years of my career, I regualarly prosecuted parents, often moms, who got in fights with other parents and with teen age referees over some call, and these fights often ended with punches thrown, in front of their children. Does that mean all sports programs are bad? does that mean that anyone who thinks perhaps you should not get in fistfights in front of your children is angry and defensive? of course not, and likewise, neitherdoes disagreeing with Erich mean I am either of those things. This is not a life for my daughter, it is a hobby she enjoys. There is nothingsexual or exploitative about it. She wears a gown, a dance costume for her talent routine, a suit for her interview and a dress to model in, with no skin showing besides shoulders, arms and legs–just as in any team uniform. My daughter, who loes to be on a stage and is a comeptitoion irish dancer,w ants to be a marine biologist, and has enough self respect tto defend herself against bullying at school, and not run to her mother for help. Yes, pageants have helped teach her that, along with lessons from me and her dancing–it is a complete package. She has learned to help others–yes of course she could have done that without pageants, but the pageants proviced a path for her to travel. My daughter is not perfect, nor am I, but accrording to you and Erich, if we disagree with your point of view, then that is proof that we are wrong. Such flawed logic. I do not know if Erich has actually seen a live pageant, or spoken to any of the participants, but he would learn much about the system if he did. My daughtr is posied, thoughtful, giving, bright, confident and able to speak and perform in front of hundreds of people–sounds like waht any parent would want in their child. Many of thsoe qualities she had before pageants, but pageants have encouraged and developed them and given her the confidence she needs to succeed in life. A career whose value is self-evident sometimes does need defending, which is all anyone tried to do here. Teen age girls like malls,a nd so do many of their moms–does that mean we are all shallow? Perhaps a bit of an overegeneralization. Let me reiterate that my pageant girl has straight As, hangs out at malls,a nd does community service every week–I do not see any floundering there. She is a role model to younger girls, a good friend, a tireless worker at school–she is now in her seond hour of homework after performing her poms routine at the girls' basketball game today. as far fromshallow as you can get. I amnot sure what else you would want in a teenage daughter, butfor me I think mine has just about any good quality you can suggest, and many of those qualities were and are enhanced by her pageant experience. Meet some of the girls and really find out the facts–again, isn't that what a journalist is supposed to do, rather than just discuss things they know nothing about.

  13. The question for the Pageant Parents is simple: is this something kids would "create" on their own without the direct introduction and encouragement of the parents? As opposed to learning for a purpose (math, science, history, table manners…) this kind of thing is definitely "play." And I'm sure kids have fun with it—-kids can, if given a chance, figure out how to have fun with almost anything. But that's not the point, is it? This is the equivalent of dad shoving junior into Little League, not so much because the kid has a passion for baseball, but because dad is reliving his "glory years"—or, more likely, dad is trying to live a glory he never had. While most kids come through this fine, a significant percentage experience it as a distorting practice that borders on abuse.

    And I'm sorry—this is about Glamour, is it not? And Glamour is nothing with the implicit sexuality of the thing glamourized. This is like saying that cheerleaders aren't out there to pump the guys up sexually. That's nonsense and we all know it—otherwise there would still be male cheerleaders, which at one time there were.

    If that's what you're okay with, then fine, don't get all defensive. But be real. This is tuning the little girls up for Miss America pageants, and despite the protests, we all know that the most anticipated and watched part of that pageant is the swimsuit part. (If they could get away with it, there would be a nude component.)

    Given the length of the angry responses to Erich's piece, I'd say "thou doest protest too much."

  14. Vicki Baker says:

    I still think it's totally unfair that boys don't get to practice how to be shallow, superficial people-pleasers too!

  15. Supposed Frumpy Nana says:

    "Some people are obviously extremely sensitive to any suggestion that the life they’ve chosen for their daughters might not be the best option. I don’t think a career whose value was self-evident would produce such angry defensiveness."

    First of all partcipating in a Pageant is NOT LIFE anyone has chosen for their daughter or children. Children do grow up and set their dreams and goals for their life no differently than their parents, sibilings, grandparents, whatever family member does. Participation is NOT Forced it is offered, discussed and chosen as just that, a partcipation, not a LIFE Chosen Career. Partcipation is simply a chosen extra curricular activity chosen to partcipate the same as if they chose, Ballet, Tumbling, Soccer, Pom Poms or Band. If anything is being produced in a rather upset and angry position, it is for the mere fact that Erich as well as now yourself is saying our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, sisters, cousins, whatever the family relationship is being forced into participation in pageants as their life career. Maybe there are some who do force and chose, however, Not everyone does, it is not a life or death matter, it is simply an extra curricular activity that their child likes to do, nothing more and nothing less. Children always say when they are old enough to speak and start understanding jobs and positions during play, if a little girl, all want to be a princess or a queen, or a nurse, or a teacher, or a doctor, little boys, want to be firemen, policemen, soldiers, astronauts etc. By purchasing them certain toys to play with, are parents chosing and forcing them into those careers/fields by purchasing those toys for birthdays, christmas etc. Instead of just throwing everyone into the same pot and saying this is how it is for everyone and anyone who partcipates in any way, shape or form for a pageant, that people are trying to live through their children, or force them into a Miss America Career path,Erich should do a lot more research into the subject as to actually sitting down and talking with different groups of parents and girls involved. As I stated before, my grandchild won her National Queen Title when she was 4 yrs old, she showed no skin, she wore no make-up, fake hair, fake teeth anything in that fashion whatsoever, she was 100% real and nothing more than a 4 yr old who likes to dress up in frilly little dresses and be a princess like Disney's Princesses. She clocks a lot of hours doing community service, visiting with elderly, collecting money to help fight Alzheimers, Cancer, Diabetes and for the American Heart Association. She saves her piggy bank money to sponsor a little girl her same age out of Africa with Aids every month, she collects money as a Jr Spokesperson for a National Organization that helps Children of Natural Disasters, she supports the Military by doing collections and donations to them, she is constantly donating time and food to local food banks to help less fortunate people, she collected, purchased and donated christmas toys to less fortunate children this past christmas out of her own birthday money and christmas money, she helps at Animal Shelters, she pretty much does everything and besides being taught these great values to help others by her family, she learned to respect them and love them from her partcipation in the pageant program she has been invollved in. She learns a dual education weekly, she is taught in both english and japanese to read, write and speak, she gets great grades, has tons of friends and is proud of what she is learning and accomplishing from helping others. She is not conceited, she is not forced or made to do anything that is not appropriate for her. She is a care-free souled child who just simply likes to do what she likes to do. She is very out-spoken and taught by her NaNa to keep it real and say what she thinks and mean what she says, and if she ever said, I do not want to partcipate in a pageant again, or win titles again, it would be the end of it. No-one would force her to continue, and it clearly is not going to be her life career, it simply is an extra curricular event she enjoys partcipating in, in her youth. What she as well as so many other of her sister queens will carry with them into their adulthood is nothing more than great friendships that will never die and great memories of achievements and awards they received and a great and pure soul and heart in a very shady society that they live in now in their youth, that they did hours of community service to help others achieve things they need. Once again, I say Thank God for Dream Girls USA, Thank God for all of the great and outstanding famillies we have met invovled with Dream Girls USA and Thank God for my Beautiful, Little National Dream Girls USA Queen.

  16. I refuse to read comments without paragraphs!

    Cheerleaders also have the reputation of being pretty and dumb while what they do is in fact quite a tough sport that requires a lot of discipline. Anyway, I have no real clue, I don't know any cheerleaders.

    I still would not want my daughter to participate in any beauty contest though, and certainly not at that young age. I think I'd rather want her to be a pretty scientist than a smart beauty queen. The focus is different.

  17. Supposed Frumpy NaNa says:

    Nice, that it would be your choice, and keyword being your choice for your daughter to not partcipate in a pageant, would you take the time to discuss and listen with her, as to if it would be HER choice. That is what it all comes down to, being the girls choice, not the parent. Or in most circumstances it should be the girls choice as to her partcipation or not.

    Afterall, it is her doing the public speaking, writing the essays, performing the talent, the community service projects, etc. Well, you just sit back and relish in yours being a pretty scientist, and I will sit back for years and relish in knowing mine grew up being a pretty, smart national queen, who was involved in hundreds of community service projects and things, with super enhanced public speaking skills and things she learned while she chose to partcipate in pageants which helped her a long the way in her career choices of being a pretty, smart CSI Investigator or Teacher, whichever of the she choses to be. Afterall, it is her choice if she wants to partcipate or not, just like her path in life will be what she wants, not what anyone else wants.

  18. Soon To Be Pageant M says:

    My daughter has begged me to do one of these pageants for a while now and I'm going to say yes. She's 10 years old, a well-rounded child, a good student, well behaved, respects herself and has good self esteem.

    I also did many pageants in my teens and I am an educated, well rounded person myself with a great career, wonderful husband and healthy relationships. I'm sorry to say I have none of the issues that you are projecting these girls may have. Pageants were a definitive and positive experience in my life that opened many, many doors an opportunities for me. I am grateful to have done them and I'm certain my own daughter will have similar experiences.

    Next time, please do an article on actual research (there are several, university based psychological studies that have been done on the long term impacts of pageantry on the women who participate) instead of your own opinion.

    As you can see, I'm not yelling or berating you, nor am I calling you names. This is because responding to an argument without emotion, and with solid facts is one of the many things that pageantry taught me.

  19. Erich Vieth says:

    Moral and ethical questions aside, we wonder, simply, what motivates a parent to enter his or her daughter in a pageant. Because, as David Hinckley wrote in the New York Daily News, “[I]t doesn’t take a Ph.D. to realize that the parent, not the 4-year-old, is the engine driving this train.”

    http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2009/11/08/high_

  20. The motivation for the parent is probably much the same as the parent who pushes the kids into sports and drives them into competitive frenzies, probably thinking that it will pay off in a "superstar" down the line. I think it always the parent living vicariously through the child.

  21. Astounded says:

    I happened upon this article and can't help but find it fascinating. I will never understand how some people vehemently despise the actions of others simply out of lack of understanding. My twin daughters are currently wearing state crowns in the Dream Girls USA pageant system. THEY chose this pageant system and brought the research to me. They liked that there is a Supreme Sister category and they can compete together instead of against each other.

    They are extremely active, are very athletic and "play" most sports for "fun." Some they are very good at others they are terrible but still have fun. They choose to "compete" in the sports they excel at (track, volleyball, x-country skiing.)They are both Junior National Honor Society members, are active members in community organizations, and charity events. They both want to be engineers, have built their own computers and have won several state science competitions.

    They are well spoken and are accustomed controversy as the stereotypes for twins are actually worse than the stereo types for pageants. People either want to treat them as one, or as if they should be completely detached from each other and so individual that their "twin-ness" shouldn't be recognized but instead chastised. For them being part of each other is part of their individuality and I have stopped trying to understand it and instead accept it. I do encourage them to buy different clothes, but for me it is a practical thing. It seems to make more sense to double your wardrobe rather than duplicate it. They still buy several things the same and look at each other and say "look we can be twins!" (FYI this is what non-twin teenage girls say when they choose to wear the same outfit!) They have stopped caring about others opinions and do what is right for them.

    It seems that the the rage around pageants comes from fear. Of what I am not sure but there is no way that much hostility comes from anything but fear. Maybe the fear is that we are breeding brainless women who are just going to breed more brainless women. Both of my girls have held student council positions and honestly I don't find it much different than pageants. You have to 1. get the title through merit as well as illusion (don't deny it!) and 2. be an ambassador if you win.

    Regardless, it is ironic that those who preach "live and let live" or "freedom to the children" are the very same people who criticize others for their opinions and actions. They are the ones who think children should just be able to do what they choose? Seriously? Those are the children burning down playgrounds. If they were meant to be self sufficient as children they would be hatched out of eggs and we wouldn't see them again! Even nonreligious folks have to accept that we are mammals and we nurture (even push) our young instead of allow them to wander aimlessly like a reptile.

    Are their bad pageant parents? Certainly. Just like there are bad people everywhere. A white man who is a racist does not make all white men racists. A college student that gets there on a sports scholarship and can't read doesn't make all sports scholars illiterate. A gay man who rapes a young boy does not make all gay men rapists. A woman who sleeps her way to the top of a corporate chain does not make all corporate women whores. An African American teenager who kills another doesn't make all African American teenagers gang members.

    Stereotypes are evil. You should lose yours. I can see your concern over some pageant scenarios and or parents. Maybe focusing on the crazy people and suggest that others that chose pageantry not become "them" would be a better direction. I have never been a pageant girl. My two older daughters were more into arts and theatre and never really interested in pageants even though several of their friends were. (and yes, there is competitive theatre!)My younger girls became interested in pageants from the 20somethings they know from their older sisters. They are graduating from college or currently pursuing professional degrees (a law student, a dentist, three engineers, an accountant, ironically two journalists, one house wife (she has a teaching degree), one self-start business owner (marketing degree), and the list goes on. I am sure if we looked hard enough we could find that girl who became "frumpy and bitter" or a drug addict. We are not looking though. We also have several wonderful people in that age group who have never done pageants and somehow managed to succeed.

    The point is less about what you do and more about what you learn from what you do. My girls will learn positive things and negative things from everything they do and hopefully will embrace the positive. They will encounter amazing people and self-centered people. They will live their lives with controversy around most subjects and hopefully can weed through the crap and find the truth. their truth may not be the next persons. And this year they will be living a dream as local celebrities and what ever happens at Nationals happens. I like who they are and more importantly so do they. That is what your focus should be!

  22. Nina says:

    I’ve not reat ALL the comments, but I believe there is a disconnect between the author’s piece and the reality of pageants. If all you know of pageants is what you see on cable television or movies, you don’t know pageants. Even the paltry slide-shows as posted, don’t paint a complete picture.

    I had to chuckle a bit at the “absent fathers” dig in the article above when one of the slideshows has an image of a Pageant Dad showing off his daughter’s dress. The reality is that much like football is a “guy thing” and ladies don’t go in the locker room, pageants are typically a “girl thing” and men are expressly forbidden from entering the dressing room(s) for good reason.

    The thing about DreamGirls USA is that it is a natural pageant. That means little to NO makeup on the girls. Judges WILL mark down for it. Just like National American Miss and Miss American CoEd, two other scholarship pageant systems that have been around a very long time and are extremely reputable.

    DreamGirls USA requires community service of all their royalty. It also plays a part in scoring, as well. For a state level pageant, girls are scored from 1-10 in two categories (descriptions directly from my daughter’s score sheets):

    Formalwear – Judges look for POISE and personality for age. Overall appearance in choice of short of long dress, smile and enthusiasm. Overall stage presence.

    Spokesmodel – Judges look for PERSONALITY and enthusiam, overall content of intruduction based on age group, speaking ability for age, speech projection and overall appearance.

    There’s no place anywhere on the score sheets for “beauty” or “modeling”. Overall appearance is defined as how well the clothing fits and it’s age appropriateness, not how many stones it has.

    I’ve seen a lot of pageants in the last year. My middle child decided she wanted to give pageants a go about a year ago and we’ve done small ones, big ones, live ones, online ones, glitz ones and natural ones. Each one is unique and has it’s own spin and what the judges are looking for. Every pageant is her choice. She even designs her own clothing and I make it for her with rare exception.

    I have seen an extremely shy child become outgoing and conquer her fear of being in public. She has blossomed and positively GLOWS on stage. And that’s without any “warpaint”.

    Pageantry is something our entire family enjoys, actually. With rare exception, my husband accompanies us to pageants and helps get the kids ready for competition as well as taking pictures (outside the ballroom, of course!). Last summer we attended the National American Miss pageant for our state as a family and made a “staycation” out of it. We had so much fun over the three days, hanging out at the pool, relaxing and yes, attending the events. My husband was my daughter’s on-stage escort, so I need to tell him he’s not being enough of an absent father, I guess. ;-P

    Honestly, one can take any photo-essay and spin it any way you want. If you have a preconceived notion of what something is, you can make it appear that way by manipulating the “evidence”. That’s *not* journalism. And that is some of what’s wrong with the internet. Any idiot with an internet connection can say anything they want and it will be believed by someone, somewhere. Whether or not there’s an ounce of truth in it.

    Are there some pageants and pageant parents that are over the top? Absolutely. But DreamGirls USA is not one of those systems. In the interest of full disclosure, my middle child won her state title at DreamGirlsUSA recently, but we are not being compensated in any way by the pageant or it’s organizers.

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