Behind the Makeup: A Look into the World of Children Pageants

By: Amelia Nahmias Email
By: Amelia Nahmias Email

LYNCHBURG, Va -- Makeup, skimpy clothes and provocative poses are usually what people associate with beauty pageants. Now, the world of children pageants is more popular than ever, thanks to shows like “Toddlers in Tiaras” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”

The Valley has our very own mini diva, who calls herself “Honey Tutu.”

Her real name is actually Krislyn Ward. She is a three year old beauty queen who has been in 50 pageants since she was 20 months old.

She participated in the Tiny Miss Virginia Pageant, which is the oldest and most prestigious pageant in the state.

Every parent takes this weekend very seriously, including Shelly Ward, Krislyn's mom. She described just one financial cost of her daughter's participation in pageants.

"One of her dresses was $500. And I'm like, I've never had a $500 dress," said Shelly.

The pageant also allows baby contestants, 6 to 23 months old.

"You wouldn't put as much make up on a baby. A little powder, blush, lip gloss, mascara," said Tammy Samuels, who does makeup and hair for the pageant.

The question many people have about pageants is, when do contestants and their parents go too far?

Tiny Miss Virginia Pageant Director Gail Jones tried to keep her pageants as natural as possible and discourages what she thinks is excessive beauty maintenance.

"They're spraying these 6 to 23 month olds, and it's just, I think it's inhumane," said Jones.

Jones said competing can be harmful if parents do not have the proper perspective. She said parents can hurt their kids by being too competitive.

"I've seen some ugly moms, but I have a strict policy when it comes to my pageant as far as sportsmanship conduct goes."

First, Jones gives a warning and the offenders cannot compete for a year. The second offense means they cannot come back ever again. From personal experience, Jones understands the dynamic of pageant moms.

"I was a pageant mom, and I was competitive. It's not all for fun. It's the same concept as baseball."

Shelly also understands that principle.

"I know that it's a competition, but if we win, we win. If we lose, she's still our queen at home," said Shelly.

Krislyn is also queen on the stage.

"She likes to shake, and take pictures. She likes the camera."

The struggle and preparation are nothing compared to the smile on Krislyn's face and the friendships she makes. That is what makes doing pageants worth it to Shelly.

"When she gets off of the stage, and she is so proud of herself, she comes running to me. I say Krislyn, 'Way to go, you're awesome!' and she just gives me this big hug. It makes me feel so good, that she has the confidence in herself."

Jones said pageants teach girls how to speak in front of people, which could help the girls later on in life in job interviews or at school. Jones said it's a different story for the youngest contestants.

"I tell the moms, six to 23 months is about them, it's not about the child," said Jones.

Krislyn got third runner up this weekend and that means she will move on to the national competition in March. She will be eligible for more scholarships and savings bonds and the Wards would save all prize money for Krislyn's future college expenses.

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