Monday, May 19, 2008

The Beauty In Pageants

I've been asked a time or two why we put Kaitlyn in pageants. Typically, the answer is really simple, she absolutely loves and adores them and begs for her chance to be on stage.

That is typically meant with skeptical looks. How in the world can a child know they want to do pageants as young as 1 and ask to do it without ever knowing what it is? I know the typically assumption is that I am living vicariously through my daughter, or I'm a loon.

There is so much beauty in pageants that I think goes unnoticed in today's society because of all the "bad" press given to pageants since Jon Benet Ramsey's death. The shows on MTV, E! and Little Miss Sunshine didn't exactly give pageants the positive light that they deserve.

First and foremost, pageants are a fantastic place for children (and adults) to make friends. Children are in a social environment and given the opportunity to further develop their manners and proper etiquette. I don't think I have met anyone yet that has been anything but friendly and kind. The children all cheer each other on and encourage them to do their best and then congratulate them after they get off of the stage. Children are given the opportunity to learn good sportsmanship regardless of winning or loosing. In today's age where we don't keep score at most children's games in fear of hurting someone's feelings, where else is that taught?

Pageants also encourage self confidence and poise. How many 2 and 3 year olds do you know that will eagerly jump to the stage in front of 50 or more people and belt out their favorite song or do their favorite dance? How many do you know would do that while shooing mom away before they hit the stage? I know Kaitlyn wouldn't if it wasn't for the experience so early. How many 9 and 10 year olds do you know would do it? How many pre-teens or teenagers? I've seen some amazingly talented kids and teens and I am pretty sure there is no way I could or would have done what they do at their age. I would have been terrified. Believe me, I have no intention of Kaitlyn being discovered on stage, I think few parents do, and I know it is unlikely she will want to pursue a career in Hollywood, however in today's world self confidence and the ability to put yourself out there to be judged and critiqued is an ability lacking in today's world. Those who can and do will and do go so much further in life.

Pageants are also a great family activity. Parents can help the child practice and rehearse, make or shop for the outfits, plan the perfect pictures and spend the day together rooting on their child and all of their accomplishments.

Many pageants today honor community service and good grades. Yet another incentive and encouragement to help shape our children into well rounded contributing members of society. Many pageants have group outings so the kids can really become friends.

Not all pageants are the same, there are so many different levels, types, and advantages to different pageants. They are not for everyone. Believe me, I was skeptical before Kaitlyn's first. I didn't see much positive in them, but seeing her grow and ignoring the sterotypes as I met some amazing parents definitely changed my perspective.

As a pageant mom, I do encourage people to try one with their kid. It's a lot of fun and a great family activity!