Toddlers and Tiaras scares the crap out of me. My daughter wants to be a pageant queen. She certainly has the drama part down, but mama isn’t ready. I’m not a Toddlers and Tiaras kind of girl.
My daughter is 6. Before kids, I was a TLC nut. I love, love, loved to watch TLC shows and the like. Since having kids, I get less and less time to watch things I enjoy. Circa 2010 , I managed to score a treadmill at the gym with TV and I witnessed the horror that is/was Toddlers and Tiaras. All I could think was “Are these people for real?” I knew kids that did pageants growing up, but I had NO idea that the pageant world could be the dog eat dog train wreck that the world is shown Toddlers and Tiaras.
My (now) 2 year old niece hit the pageant circuit last fall. Immediately, my mind went straight to HoneyBooBoo and that dreaded show. My daughter had asked about doing a pageant in the past, but she had never made a real push for it until the niece’s pageants started. Granted, we’re talking ‘natural’ pageants, not the semi-glitz and glitz world of Toddlers and Tiaras, but pageants all the same. Skeptical, we started going to my niece’s pageants. There wasn’t near the Toddlers and Tiaras drama I expected. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of 2 year old meltdowns, but no parent drama – at least not that I saw.
I’ve never been a fan of pageants. I just don’t feel like girls should place a value on themselves based on what someone thinks about how they look. I’ve always been big on “what matters is on the inside” and put little stock in the rest. The drama was just another reason to stay far, far away.
Then I had a girl. A girl who is incredibly nervous in front of people, just like her mama. A girl who does so well in dance class, but on the stage gets stiff and self-conscious. She started asking to do pageants and I started to debate whether there was any value in them or not. I know there isn’t value in Toddlers and Tiaras, but what about these ‘Natural’ pageants?
After many, many requests since last Fall, I gave in about a month ago and signed her up for her first pageant. As the date creeped up on us, I realized that I was completely ill prepared and we spent much of the 7 days pre-pageant running around looking for outfits and shoes. I ended up ordering half of what I needed from Amazon (thank you Amazon Prime!), one of her outfits from Children’s Place (rush shipping) and spent many, many hours combing the mall for an appropriate dress. I was hot, tired and gave up when we found the one above. She also managed to manipulate a Nike Dri-fit workout outfit for her, which cost us more than the darn dress. Hey – sometimes you just want to leave the store and be done. That Nike outfit accomplished that for me. It was totally worth it.
I was ill prepared on pageant morning. Well, I thought I was prepared. It was hot. SO HOT in the dressing room. I forgot all about the girl’s nails and ended up running into Claire’s to grab some polish (and walked out with a headband too) and painting them while sitting in the dressing room floor. It was the crappiest nail polish ever, but it served the purpose. I also quickly figured out that even though we were in a ‘natural’ pageant, I underestimated the competition. I didn’t really plan anything special for the girl’s hair – I will do better next time. I’m breaking out the hot rollers. Maybe.
Aside from dance recitals, the ‘Beauty’ portion of the pageant was the girl’s first time on stage in front of a crowd all alone and she was all on her own. She was clearly nervous and not sure what to do. It was fine. She was asking me for directions from the stage at one point. I really didn’t expect anything more. It flustered her a little, but I was very proud of her for getting up there on her own, especially since I know how nervous it made her.
Changed and ready to go for ‘Theme Wear’, she and I were both twitchy. I was nervous for her. I think she was mostly annoyed that she had to wait. It’s never been her strong suit (nor mine). Really, I just wanted to hand her off to someone else and go find some air conditioning.
When her time to go on stage came, she did amazing! It was like watching a different child on stage. Definitely not the kid who had been up there 45 minutes prior. All I could think was how much of a change she’d made just in that one trip on stage. She really seemed to enjoy herself, enjoy being in front of people on the stage. She was waving and blew her grandma a kiss. It was so cute and such a treat to see her real personality come out in front of other people.
She didn’t end up placing in her division, but she did get a side award for her Theme Wear and we did an option sponsorship thing that got her a tiara, sash and trophy. She was proud of herself and so was I.
She’s already asking to do another pageant and I’ve already signed her up for one. It’s not necessarily something I want her to do, but it’s something she wants to do. And, if it helps her gain the confidence she needs to blossom in front of a crowd, then I’m ok with it.
I am not a Toddlers and Tiaras kind of mom. I won’t ever be. I’d rather see her out running around, riding her bike or playing a sport, but if this is what she wants to do, I will support her. There’s more to it than I thought and I think we’ll all learn some very important lessons along the way.
My friends swear I will end up on TLC one day. They say Toddlers and Tiaras. I say hoarders.
Do you have a daughter who’s participated in pageants? What do you think of them in general?