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Ask Rene: Beauty Pageant For A Young Teen – Yay Or Nay?


Ask Rene:
Beauty Pageant For A Young Teen – Yay Or Nay?


Hi Rene,

My daughter Rachel told me yesterday that she would like to enter a pageant. We recently moved to the Midwest from New York for my husband’s job and a lot of the girls in her new school take part in these local pageants. She wasn’t happy about the move and had some trouble adjusting to the new area and school. I am happy she’s found something she’s excited about and I want to be supportive but I really don’t like pageants.

The one Rachel wants to compete in has a skills section and interview but it still feels like a beauty pageant. All the girls on the website are thin and pretty and generally look the same. My daughter is a pretty girl and I’m sure she would do well but it would be a big commitment of time (and money) for dresses, coaches and all.

More than that, I’m not sure I want Rachel being in anything that reinforces her looks above all else. She’s just 13 and I would prefer it if she got involved in a sport or an instrument instead of something that feels a little superficial. Her father doesn’t think it’s a big deal and a lot of her new friends are participating. I don’t want her to feel left out but I don’t know if I’m okay with signing my daughter up.

What do you think? Am I giving the pageant a bad rap? Should I just get over it?

Kari, Avon



Hi Kari:

Thanks for writing. I get what you’re saying but perhaps it would help if you reposition this a bit in your mind. Think of childhood as an 18-year courtship; your daughter needs to kiss a few frogs before finding her prince. Her desire to be in one pageant does not mean she’s headed down a path of sound bites and sticky tape, it merely means that at this age, she wants to check it out with some of her friends. Of course that doesn’t mean you abdicate your responsibility as a parent; you still need to guide, teach and protect her. So here’s what I would do.


1. Ask Her Why She Wants To Be In The Pageant

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I think you have to start by really determining what this is about and the way you do that is by asking. I have a daughter around the same age and I am well aware that the conversation I am urging you to have with Rachel will likely be you doing most of the talking and her half listening, eyes darting around looking for the nearest escape route. But perhaps you can get her to open up more about why she wants to do this. Is it about a fun time and hanging out with her friends, which is of paramount importance to teenagers? Maybe she wants to know what it’s like to get all dressed up and perform on stage. It could be any number of things, which is why it would behoove you to find out. Once you have done that, you can move on to the next step.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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