Beauty pageants can be good or evil, depending on the contestant, and those behind the contestant. Namely, the pageant mothers! Some pageant mothers push their daughters to excel in the pageants whether their little hearts are in it or not. But others do it just because their daughters wish to be in the pageants.
I think pageants can be a good thing in the development of little girls. They develop confidence and self awareness. They have a lot of attention focused on them while they are preparing for the pageants, and are encouraged to take care of themselves and practice proper ettiquette in their actions and speech.
Sometimes children need to be pushed to be their best and to find their own motivations in life. But some parents can come down too hard on their children, and the pageant experience can be unpleasant. Kids are impressionable, and I think some subjects should be approached gently or not at all. With food and weight, girls should be taught how to eat healthy, and that not eating enough, is just as unhealthy and unacceptable as eating too much.
I am obsessed with King of the Crown and Toddlers and Tiaras on TLC. When I have a daughter, I would definitely want to put her in pageants, if she wants to!
The prizes in the younger pageants are usually money or savings bonds. The Miss America prizes include scholarships. The Mrs. America prizes include lots of certificates for gowns and gym memberships. Glittery stuff. Stuff I would like.