Child Beauty Pageant
Child beauty pageants are for contestants from 0 to 18 years old. Divisions include talent, interview, sportswear, casual wear, swim wear, western wear, theme wear, outfit of choice, decade wear, and evening wear, typically wearing makeup as well as elaborate hairstyles. The contestants wear custom fitted and designed outfits to present their routines on stage.
Beauty pageants started in the United States in 1921, when the owner of an Atlantic City hotel struck upon the idea to help boost tourism. However, the idea had already circulated through "Most Beautiful Child" contests held in major cities across the country. The Little Miss America pageant began in the 1960s at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. Originally, it was for teenagers from 13 to 17 years old, but by 1964 there were over 35,000 participants, which prompted an age division. The modern child beauty pageant emerged in the late 1960s, held in Miami, Florida. Since then, the industry has grown to include nearly 25,000 pageants. It is an increasingly lucrative business, bringing in about a billion dollars a year.
The murder of JonBenet Ramsey in late 1996 turned the public spotlight onto child beauty pageants. Many began to question the ethics of parents who would exploit their child in such a way. Dan Rather was noted for criticizing CBS for airing Ramsey’s tapes, calling them “kiddie porn.”
In 2001, HBO aired its Emmy-winning Living Dolls: The Making of a Child Beauty Queen, which garnered much attention.