Runway Reboot

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Her tan is perfect. She must have spent hours on that hair – after she finished her makeup. The “flippers” cover the unsightly gaps left when she lost those teeth. Her bathing suit is cut high and those heels push up a pair of perfect calves. The room’s lights go down, the spotlight hits the catwalk and she struts like a model, turning and twirling to give the judges the best views. A beauty pageant, after all, is a beauty pageant. Even if she’s only 8 years old.

San Francisco “pageant mother” Kerry Campbell was in trouble with authorities only a week after a Good Morning America piece during which she cheerfully admitted that she regularly injected her 8-year-old daughter, Britney, with Botox. According to mom, Britney was losing her competitive edge in her beauty pageants. After the San Francisco Human Services Agency removed Brittney from her mother, Kerry admitted that her Botox admission was a fabrication.

Glitz pageants leave most parents with an unsettling feeling.

“Even though I really love this industry, I want my child to be normal. I want her to just be a child. Putting a little girl in those pageants is a little bit extreme,” says Heather Rouba, Mrs. Oklahoma 2009.

She feels that parents that push their daughters in that direction may be living through their children, may be overcompensating for some deficiencies of their own, or have other issues that their daughters are paying for.

“When you take a child and put her into (a glitz pageant), her existing character traits are completely different (than those of older women). They’re focused on basic accomplishments in school, playing, laughing and learning how to be friends. Improving children works in a natural pageant setting. They’re set up to reward children with excellence in areas that children should have excellence in,” says another former Mrs. Oklahoma, Stacy Kukal.

“Putting kids into a glitz pageant says, ‘God didn’t make you right to begin with. We’re all going to get together and see what we can do with you,’” Kukal continues. “Generally, those kids end up with confusion about who they were to begin with.”

There are, however, alternatives to the glitz pageant circuit. “Natural”