This week I received the same question from two different mothers whose daughters both want to be Miss America someday.
What is the difference between glitz and natural beauty pageants and which one do I recommend?
Both glitz and natural pageants can help young girls develop confidence and stage presence in a fun environment; but there are big differences between the glitz and natural worlds of pageantry. To understand where my point of view is coming from, let me first point out that the two young girls want to compete in the Miss America system. Secondly, I am a specialized natural pageant coach with my expertise being in resume writing, interview/communication skills, and positive self-image development.
Pageant systems that fall under this category are National American Miss (NAM), American Coed Pageant (COED), International Junior Miss (IJM), America’s National Teenager (ANTSO), Cinderella, America’s Outstanding Teen, Miss America, Teen-World, Miss USA, Mrs. America, Mrs. United States and Mrs. International. There are many more but this is a sampling of familiar systems to people within the pageant world.
- Generally speaking, the makeup guideline for children under 12 is zero. Some will allow only mascara and lip gloss on stage under the bright light. Makeup used on teens and women is to enhance the natural beauty, not to become the focal point or to make them look like someone they’re not. The same goes for hairstyle. Always make sure to check with your director about the specifics for your pageant.
- Clothing is tasteful and has sparkle to it; but is not overly ornate. Wardrobe is usually purchased off the rack at a store and subtly embellished or customized by the contestant to reflect their sense of personality and style. The wardrobe is to always bring attention back to the girl wearing it. Not the other way around.
- Modeling style for gown is elegant and smooth. Arms and hands are close to your body moving in natural opposition (when you step forward with your right foot, your left arm is moving forward and so forth).
- Facial expressions are natural with the energy of the eyes and smile matching.
- Communication skills are developed through an on-stage introduction, personal interview and on-stage question.
Who does well in natural pageants? Contestants who enjoy speaking, are skilled in an artist talent, make good grades, have a charitable cause they’re passionate about, and are well-rounded individuals tend to excel in natural pageants. These skills can easily transfer into life outside of the pageant stage.
There are many glitz pageants across the country. If your child is blessed with facial beauty, then this may be the place to start. Glitz pageants offer the opportunity for young children to get use to being on stage before they can speak.
- In glitz pageants, you will see the use of hairpieces, heavy make-up, deep spray tans, fake teeth (called flippers), false eyelashes, and color contacts worn by the majority of the contestants.
- Clothing for glitz pageant is usually the short cupcake skirt dress. A cupcake dress is a dress that is several inches above the knee, has multiple layers of lace and is heavily stoned and bedazzled. Most of the dresses you see on the TV show Toddlers and Tiaras are cupcake dresses and are filmed at glitz pageants.
- Glitz pageants have their own style of modeling. Because of the full cupcake skirt, contestants learn to walk with their hands held away from their body with their finger tips gentle curving around the outer ruffle of their dress. When they walk, their arms don’t move in the natural oppositional way. Instead, they move in the same direction (if you step out with your right foot, the right arm moves slightly with it).
- Facial Expressions tend to be exaggerated with lots of eyelash batting, tilting of the head from side to side, and blowing kisses.
- The opportunity to develop oral communication skills are limited in glitz pageants. If the contestant speaks, it is brief or only to say her name, age and where she is from. This may be because most of the contestants are babies and toddlers whose speech isn’t yet develop. Again, the focus is on outer beauty.
Who does well in glitz pageants? Contestants who really enjoy getting all dressed up to create new characters on stage will love glitz pageants. The crowns are bigger than the child’s head and the trophies are twice their height. There are usually lots of prizes, too.
Just make sure your child can tolerant having their hair teased, eyelashes glued on, and wearing heavy makeup. Glitz pageants are high maintenance and expensive. They are very popular and easy to find for children under the age of 5.
Because the glitz environment is about creating an illusion, it’s hard, but not impossible, for children who have only done glitz pageants to successfully transition into natural pageants as they age up. The modeling style, limited speaking experience and facial expressions learned at a young age are hard habits to break.
So to answer the second part of the question as to which pageant type I would recommend, since these two little girls want to be Miss America someday (and what 10-year-old doesn’t want to be) I would say stick to the natural pageant systems.
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