Levels of Pageantry – What Will Work for Your Family?
by Kim Josie Emery


3 Levels Of Pageantry

Pageantry is a glamorous, exciting, multimillion dollar national past-time.  Before you step into this world, consider the three types of pageants. Ask yourself: “What goals have I set for my children and family? How much time and money can I invest safely into this hobby? How do I feel about glamour and my child? Are we looking to win titles & crowns, break into modeling, win scholarships, or aid our community? Where do I see this hobby 5 years down the road?” Then, read the following information which is broken down into the three categories most pageants (birth-adult) fit into.

1. Professional/Full Glitz – Look at these as “Tiger Woods, Kelly Clarkson, Bill Gates, Bush Family” events.

Time demands: Full-time, year round; practice daily, travel weekly What-to-Buy: Everything is custom made, always new, by pageant designers and full of rhinestones, mirrors, beads, and sequins...Think Vegas Show Girl! These items cannot be purchased via catalogue or store! Minimally, attire is a gown with age appropriate accessories, a pro-am outfit, swimwear, western wear, and casual wear. Also required are photogenic pictures by a professional pageant photographer (approx. $750 per session, plus approx. $150 per print). Sears Portrait or Glamour Shots will not win only serious, pageant photographers’ photos. You will need at least three headshot photos to enter at every event.

Support Team: (Often listed on the pageant’s website, providing clues that the event is full glitz) A national level coach ($100-200 per hour) seen at least once a month to create on-stage routines and suggest designers/photographers; an airbrush tanner, nail technician, and hair & make-up artist at the pageant; resources for falls, wigglets, and/or hair extensions and hair pieces; false eyelashes; sometimes colored contacts.

Pageant Fees: $400.00 and up. Additional photos are usually $25.00 each; Budget for hotel, travel; hair & make-up at $300-$500; and a coaching session, tanning, and nail appointments per event. Average weekend cost - $1,500-$2,000.00

Yearly Financial Obligation: $30,000-$40,000   

Prizes: Always a crown, banner, and trophy; Savings bonds to division queens, Mini-Supremes, and Over-All winners. Divisions bonds usually $500-1000.00, while the highest score for all the divisions for the whole event can win $10,000 bonds ($5,000).

Examples: Glamour Dolls Nationals, Fabulous Faces Nationals, and Tropical Dream Stars Nationals.


Hobby Glitz – Look at these like “American Idol Finalist, college professor, amateur golfer” events

Time Demands: Part-time – once a month, with travel limited to summer nationals
What-to-Buy: At this stage either contact a designer for clothing, ordering what is affordable as opposed to what is cutting edge/national. Or buy used clothing online from E-Bay or a pageant consignment shop. A gown, pro-am outfit, western wear, and swimwear are still required. Casual wear can be purchased at a store like Cashe’ or GAP. Pageant type photos are necessary, but an excellent local photographer who does digital retouching will suffice. Be sure to order 8X10 prints only!

Support Team: A coach you see every month or few months (rates stay the same); hair & make-up team at the pageant or Mom if good with pageant hair and stage make-up; tanning is optional (though recommended)

Pageant Fees: $195-$395; hair & make-up $150-$300.00; hotel and travel. Average weekend cost - $500-1,000.00. Yearly Financial Obligation: $10,000 – $15,000

Examples: Fabulous Faces Local Preliminary, Sunburst States, Cover Miss, Royal Majesty
Prizes: Always a crown, banner, and trophy; $100 - $500 savings bonds; entry fees off nationals (see above); toys/gifts.


– At the other end of the spectrum are natural events. Contestant experience level varies, but the events are totally different from either glitz categories.

Time Demands
: 2-3 events per year, depending on what is won; usually a local, state, then national of one system.

What-to-Buy: A beauty gown can be purchased from the mall or a bridal shop, from a Storybook Heirlooms catalogue, or on-line; a swimsuit or fitness wear (depending on age), and interview suit (pants and jacket/ skirt and jacket), and an opening number outfit assigned by the pageant.

Support Team: Friends and family, Pageantry Magazine and/or Supermodels Unlimited Magazine, a modeling class or two, and a health club membership for pre-teens and up.
Pageant Fees: This is different – In some systems state fees are higher, because you do not pay to go to nationals. You earn going to nationals. Other systems have fees at all levels. Factor in attire for the pageant, parties, & appearances, as well as travel. Meals and social events are often paid for by the pageant!

Prizes: Crown, banner, and trophy; HUGE prize packages from modeling contracts, to acting schools, to volunteer/fundraising opportunities, to cash & trips, to scholarships, to cosmetic dentistry, to appearance wardrobes, to business cards & photo shoots…directors are looking to give away awesome amounts of prizes AND appearances. Appearances include TV, print, and personal (hospitals, schools, etc.)

America Co-Ed state & national, Miss America/Teen America, Miss USA/Teen USA, Little Miss Hawaiian Tropics, Miss United States, Beauties of America (etc)

Choosing the right pageant path for your family is daunting. I offer a few more tips:

  1. Spend time on-line: Look at pageants, the categories, previous winners, and prizes. These details will clue you into what type of event you are considering.
  2. Call the direct and ask point blank, “Is this a professional glitz, hobby glitz, or Natural event?” If you know the lingo, the director will consider you worldly in the ways of pageantry and give you the honest answer, not what she hopes will bring you to the event.
  3. Talk to photographers. They most often have their fingers on the pulse of pageantry.
  4. Call a coach and ask for a free consultation. You will know quickly by their willingness to discuss your goals before booking a session if they are reputable.
  5. Subscribe to pageant magazines.
  6. Most importantly, ask your child, or gage your child’s reactions to the spot light. Are pageants something they want to do? If so, I’ll “see you next time,” as we discuss… “GEARING UP FOR YOUR FIRST EVENT!”



the CuteKid prizes