Alright. This is going to start out as a (mostly) unfounded, un-researched rant. Mostly. Because I do have a *little* bit of knowledge on the subject. I am not going to pretend to know everything, and eventually (when I am not lazy) I will do more research on this.
Toddler pageants. (There you go, Jon.)
I think teen pageants are bad enough. I should know – I did one. It was the “Miss Worcester County’s Outstanding Teen” pageant through the Miss America circuit. I did it because I have a friend who is MTF (male-to-female transgender) who was really interested in pageants, but could not compete in Miss America because she was born biologically male. Could she have entered another pageant circuit? Yes. Would it have been a good idea? No. There are various other pageant circuits, and they all have different requirements for the title and different prizes awarded to the title holder. From what I know already, it is my personal opinion that Miss America is the most respectable pageant out there. Miss America is a scholarship pageant. The adult circuit is free to participate in – contestants only pay for their outfits for the pageant – and the participants earn a good amount of scholarships to go towards college. What also makes Miss America unique is that the largest basis for judging (I believe it is between 40% and 50%) is the platform interview. This means that the Miss America contestant chooses a socioeconomic issue that is near and dear to her heart, and her year of service is dedicated to doing volunteer work and raising awareness on that issue. Talent is the next largest area to be judged, and the evening wear and swimsuit have minimal points awarded. The board in charge of the current Miss America rules and regulations is very conservative and is looking for ways to promote Miss America instead of helping the contestants. This is why trans women cannot compete, and this is why evening wear and swimsuit competitions are still permitted (and in fact, encouraged in televised events).
Miss America and the Miss America Outstanding Teen pageant circuit are unique in that they are based in volunteer work. Most other pageant circuits (the other famous one is Miss USA, owned by Donald Trump) are truly beauty pageants, and the largest judged area is (you guessed it) the swimsuit competition.
As I was getting at earlier, Miss America is pretty much the only trustworthy pageant circuit out there. And guess what? They don’t have toddler pageants!
Think of everything that the modern person thinks is detestable about beauty pageants. Now, imagine all that being pushed on a toddler who is not old enough to really understand what she is doing, and who is being pushed into an untrustworthy pageant circuit by a stage mom who is pissed because she lost some pageant she was in because she was drunk and 19.
Again… more research coming. But come on. Toddler pageants… Chinese Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ on Ice Skates…