Toddlers in Tiaras - Is the runway any place for your two-year-old?

The fee for entering your child in a beauty pageant may not seem like much of an investment, $40 may be all that's involved in the basic entry. Think twice (or twenty times) before you add your child to the 300,00 who stroll down the child beauty pageant aisle each year. Beauty pageants appear to be addicting - at least for the parents - and a lot more expensive than they appear at first glance. This is an industry, involving hundreds of pageants, which generates more than a billion dollars a year in revenue.

The costs are only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. In all possible ways, from the point of view of this child therapist, putting your child (let's call this what it almost always is, your daughter) on the beauty pageant stage is a terrible investment. Let's start with the financial costs.

In TLC's premiere of Toddlers in Tiaras, Pageant Director Annette Hill mentions the $5,000 Ultimate Grand Supreme prize about every four minutes. We are also urged to remember that there is a $1,000 Mini Grand Supreme. The winners are encouraged to "fan" these bills out for the excited audience. But, according to Brian Bethel, the actual dollar figure that each family spends competing in a state pageant usually ranges between $500 and $3,000.