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The Contender
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Small children should not compete in pageants

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/5/2011 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,366 times Debate No: 16319
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)




I believe that small children should not compete in pageants. The moms force them into it when they are babies, and then convince their daughter (or son :P) that pageantry is the most important thing in their life. This isn't right to do at all, especially when the children are too young to think for themselves. This argument will consist of four rounds, the first being my opponent's acceptance to this debate. Thank you.


I thank kayteecurt for her comments, and accept this debate.

Unless we can prove that harm is being done, I don't believe we have a right to interfere with a parents' right, to make decisions, for their children. Nor do I think that we should judge that parent for making a decision that is perfectly legal, and socially acceptable, in our society.
Debate Round No. 1


First, I'll sat that parents do indeed have right to make choices for small children, but they later convince their child that pageantry is the most important thing, and that looking pretty and showing off to people is all you have to do in life.

Some of my evidence lies in the show, "Toddlers and Tiaras", which is supposed to show little girls doing their best onstage, but really shows how controlling and obsessed these moms are. They watch cluelessly as their own children turn to brats who only care about pageants and the money they win being used to buy dresses instead of college. One mother on the show says, "... And a lot of the money they win goes to (opens closet, full of a huge amount of tiny dresses) pageant clothes! We never wear the same ones twice for the judges, right girls?" (The girls, infant twins, do not reply)

here you will see the anatomy of a pageant girl. Little kids shouldn't live with their only goal to get first prize!


I agree that some parents push kids too hard, sometimes, and that leads impressionable children to the conclusion that that is the most important thing. That's true, though, with school work, sports, cheerleading, music, and many other aspects of life. A perfect example is the tiger mom (link #1). Many parents go too far, in our opinion. I would argue, though, that that speaks to the parents, themselves, not the pageants. It's hard to argue that it's not right to put kids in little league, or give them piano lessons, just because some parents will push their kids too hard, or be too competitive. All these activities, pageants included, have positive aspects, as well as negative, and can teach valuable skills. Whether it will be a positive, or negative experience, and what the child learns from it, depends on how the parents handle it.

Another thing that's not considered, in your arguments, is the fact that many children actually enjoy participating, and many parents handle that participation in a much more reasonable fashion. If the child says they don't want to do it, the parents don't force them to do it. There are thousands of kids in pageants, but shows like, "Toddlers and Tiaras", only show a very small percentage, of those participants and their parents. Why?? Probably because, in the majority of cases, there is nothing sensational to show. If there is nothing sensational, about the situation or people, it's not going to make it to reality shows.

The picture you posted is disturbing, but there are other pageants that don't allow that. They just focus on the child as they naturally are (link #2). I would also ask, even in the "glitz" pageants, do the rules require stripper outfits, caked on makeup, etc. If the rules don't require those things, then once again, the responsibility falls back on the parent, not the pageants.

I look forward to pro's comments.
Debate Round No. 2


I thank Con for his comments. Unfortunately, that's how some children are dressed for pageants. Layers of make-up to hide flaws, absurd outfits to attract attention, and flippers to give them perfect smiles. There are some pageants which have contestants with only a small amount of makeup and no fake eyelashes of hair-extensions, but most are full glitz. I read your article, and you are right. Pageantry isn't the only thing mothers are fierce about. But pageantry gives girls low-self esteem. If they don't win the pageant, they aren't winners at anything. Also, the children are sometimes forced to get eyebrows waxed, put on fake eyelashes, and get spray tans. At full glitz pageants, girls are put through all these things. It's true that pageantry has whys and woes (link 1), but I assure you, there are far more woes. Some moms make it to the "woes" list (link 2).

I thank Con for this debate.


Thank you Kayteecurt for your comments

--"To my relief, the two shocking little Dolly Partons whom I had filmed all those years ago had both become poised, decent and disciplined young women. Who knows? Perhaps some of that is down to the beauty pageants. They certainly think so."-- Jane Treays

This is a quote from Jane Treays, who filmed "Painted Babies Growing Up". The two girls were interviewed 13 years after Treays original documentary, and attribute their strengths to their history in pageantry. One of the two, now in college, was still active in pageants, of her own free will.

--" Unfortunately, that's how some children are dressed for pageants. Layers of make-up to hide flaws, absurd outfits to attract attention, and flippers to give them perfect smiles. There are some pageants which have contestants with only a small amount of makeup and no fake eyelashes of hair-extensions, but most are full glitz."--

This is from the rules page of a glitz pageant:
-Color and style of dresses are the contestant's choice as long as it stays within the length requirements
-These pageants are Glitzy. If your are wondering if we are low, medium or high glitz, the answer is anything goes! -Contestants who are participating in this pageant with us for the first time or who are "low glitz" in their makeup, dress, or stage presence have just as much chance to win a title as those who are more experienced or "high glitz".

I can't speak to the rules of ALL pageants, but I can imagine that most are very similar. The last sentence in that paragraph shows that all those things that parents do that we don't agree with, are not necessary or required, by the pageant itself, in order to win a title. That puts the responsibility, for doing those things, back on the parents, just as I argued last round. They don't HAVE to go to the lengths that they do, but for whatever reason, they do. I would argue that that speaks to the personality, of the parents, and even if pageants didn't exist, that part of the parent's personality would show itself, in some other aspect, of the child's life.

--"pageantry gives girls low-self esteem"--

I'm sure there are cases where this is true, but again I would argue that the lessons that the child learns depends on the parents' handling of the competition. Many pageant participants claim that their experience taught them poise and self-confidence. Our society is much worse than pageants, when it comes to causing low self-esteem. We place so much value on outward appearance that, no matter the degree of inner beauty, so many young girls, unfortunately, don't feel like they measure up to expectations.

Admittedly, I didn't know a great deal about this issue at the beginning of the debate, so to attempt an effective argument, I had to do some research online. The most important thing that I wanted to know was, whether or not, competition in pageants causes long term physical or psychological harm to children. What I found was, some articles from women who participated in pageants, as a child, who state that it is a negative experience. On the other hand, I found some former participants crediting their positive experiences for their current successes, and self-confidence. All I could learn from that is, for some it's bad but for some its good, no real consensus. I looked for something from accredited agencies like the APA, on the issue. I found a study on the sexualization of children (link below), and it's effects. It focuses more on society, in general, but uses pageants as one example. It is a very good read, and I agree with it's conclusion, but it doesn't prove that pageants, in particular, are harmful. In fact, although I'm sure my research didn't even scratch the surface, I couldn't find anything to show that pageants themselves, are detrimental to children.
It takes extraordinarily overwhelming evidence, that harm is being done, to justify infringing on a parents' right to make decisions for their children. At least for now, I don't believe we have such conclusive evidence. Most of us agree that your rights end, where mine begin, and vice versa. Most of us would agree with the premise of the debate, "Small children should not compete in pageants", however, we can only assert that right for ourselves, and those that we are responsible for. Any further than that, and we have imposed our beliefs onto someone else, violating their God-given right to free will.

I thank Kayteecurt for hosting this debate, on a very difficult topic, and congratulate her on putting up a compelling argument.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Blairrr 5 years ago
I agree with Pro, but if the parents are responsible to not stress the children, etc... and the children competing are generally happy with the idea of pagentry, this popular event is O.K
Posted by medic0506 5 years ago
I'm not a big fan of pageants either, but sometimes it's fun to argue the opposing viewpoint.
Posted by FreeThinker35 5 years ago
Are you religious ?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Very clear argument by Con that not all pageants are a necessary bad thing.
Vote Placed by MontyKarl91 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Well run debate in general. I am very impressed at the reasoning displayed by this 15 year old. She will be quite the debater one day. However, Medic delivered much more compelling argument this time around. But I congratulate you both for a great debate.