The chance to perform in a beauty pageant is a dream of many young girls and older women alike. In today's politically correct world, the beauty pageant system has evolved to be much more than simple good looks. It takes true talent, education, and beauty to receive a crown at any beauty contest.
The pageant business is a big business, offering up a range of sponsors and participants. Across the United States, there are over 35,000 different pageants at the local, state and national level, with even more in the international scene. The contestants number in the three million plus range with over half being children.
In the pageant world, training is known as "youth development programs." With different contests available for a range of ages, many aspiring parents start training their children in the pageantry system at an early age.
International Pageant Association
Due to the strong growth of beauty pageant programs over the last century, a watchdog agency was developed in the early 1990s. Known as the International Pageant Association (IPA), it is responsible for ensuring quality amongst beauty pageants across all types and regions. They manage the following main programs:
- Code of Conduct
- Promotional Materials
- Judging Standards
If a local beauty pageant is approved by the IPA, it is a safe sign they are honest and perform their contest with integrity.
Miss America Beauty Pageant
Miss America is the beauty of all beauty pageants. The oldest and most well known, it started in 1921. Currently followed by a large crowd and television audience, the contest alone supplies some of the best in young American women.
The contestants have won a long list of pageants before their debut in Atlantic City each September for the official Miss America pageant. Starting at the local level and then moving to the state, the winners compete for a chance to wear the queen's tiara. After being crowned by a panel of judges, the winner is then whisked off to a busy year of public appearances and travel. All for certain gain with the potential of scholarships, television opportunities, and certain future rewards.
Other Popular Pageants
In addition to Miss America, there are two other main pageant systems:
- Miss Universe - Starting at the local level, women progress to a national title, and then compete for their country to be crowned Miss Universe.
- Miss World - From local pageants to the eventual national title, Miss World is awarded to the one who has won them all.
There are a large variety of smaller localized beauty pageants, usually with some theme. Depending on your skills, age, or ethnicity, there is certainly a pageant to match.A few examples:
- Miss Black America Pageant
- Mrs. America for married woman
- Miss Teen for the under 18 crowd
- Miss Wool
- Cinderella Pageant
- Mrs. Senior
As women's roles in the family and workplace have changed over the decades, so have the judging criteria for beauty pageants. Critics have long claimed that pageants are simply cheerleader contests based purely on a woman's aesthetics and family connections. Are the women simply look-alikes or does a beauty pageant showcase individuality? The answer to that question is different based on who you ask, but certainly the beauty pageant of today has come a long way from a simple prettiness contest.