Former Child Beauty Pageant Contestants Reveal What It Was Really Like

Most kids take up sports or an instrument as an extracurricular activity, but some spend their childhood donning tiaras and glitzy gowns. Reality television has given us a binge-worthy look into the absurdly superficial and controversial world of child beauty pageants. However, we rarely get to know what the experience is actually like for the kids on display.

Often coaxed by domineering parents trying to make up for their own missed opportunities, being shamelessly flaunted for a hopeful grand prize doesn’t always leave the most favorable memories. One Redditor decided to ask the community’s former child beauty pageant contestants what it was really like for them, and the responses reveal some interesting truths about this bizarre tradition.

1. Miss Congeniality: “I did a few pageants back in the 1970s and early 80s. They’ve changed a lot since. My mom forced me to do them in hopes that I’d become more ‘ladylike.’ The last one I did I got a giant trophy but ended up getting super angry because the girl who won ‘Miss Congeniality’ was the brattiest, most arrogant, and mean child I’d ever met. It made me realize how artificial the whole thing was. My mom then tried to get me to do ‘Etiquette Classes.’ Poor mom. None of it worked. I’m still a lesbian.” (Reddit user: boringlesbian)

2. Disillusioned: “I was in several pageants from age 5 to 11. I loved all of it because I was obsessed with princesses and would pretend I was going to the ball. However, once I hit puberty, I started to progress out of the stick-thin stage. One of the ‘pageant moms’ came up to me and pinched my stomach, saying, ‘What’s that? A little bit of flab? Cut down on the doughnuts, princess!’ Until that day, I had never felt self-conscious about my body. I never went back and everything I loved about the experience was shattered.” (Reddit user: sonnejotunn)

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