Local pageant moms set the record straight about child competitions

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by Renee Murphy

WHAS11.com

Posted on November 3, 2009 at 1:19 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 3 at 1:21 AM

In the world of child beauty pageants, some parents will stop at nothing to make sure their little one is picture perfect.

A group of local pageant moms and girls want to set the record straight about a system many of us know very little about.

There are about 25,000 beauty pageants in the United States.

The industry brings in about a billion dollars a year.

“I started in pageants when I was 13-years-old,” said Laura Jones, “it’s not all about the face, it’s not about the body, it’s about the entire package. It’s about being a role model.”

For Laura Jones her pageant world is very different from what most people expect.

When you hear the words beauty pageants and kids, many people think of toddlers running around with fake tans, fake nails, fake hair and even fake teeth all while wearing elaborate costumes and smiling pretty for the judges.

These images are made famous on shows like TLC's "Toddlers and Tiaras" where the overzealous pageant parents push their little princesses to be perfect.

But a group of Louisville moms and pageant contestants say this is just a small snapshot and it doesn't really reflect what goes on at pageants.

“Pageants have opened so many doors for me.  Most of the things I do now are because of pageants. People know who I am now,” said Jones.

She likes showcasing her talents and performing and says her family is supporting her not pushing her through the process.

She looks to be an example for other young women like sisters Erynn and Emma who also compete in Jefferson County.

 “Its just a really good opportunity for you to meet new people and friends and get yourself out there a lot of community service,” said Erynn Landherr.

Her sister Emma said, “They've helped me with my confidence, they've helped me by meeting new people and trying new things.   They've also taught me to keep trying and you'll succeed.”

Success is something 9-year-old Aubrey has found in pageants.

Her mom thinks it great but don't call her a pageant mom.

 “I wouldn't consider myself a pageant mom by any means.  Aubrey got into pageants by her babysitters,” said Tracey Pender-Link.  

And her daughter Aubrey was hooked.

 “I get to dress up as funny people and make the judges smile and the crowd laugh,” said Aubrey.

“She used to be very shy, amazingly enough she's done a complete 180,” said Aubrey’s mom Tracey.

Organizers for the Ms. Jeffersontown Pageant say they focus on natural beauty and avoid the glamour looks.

Dr. Denise Attaway-Yates says she knows what some people think about pageants and she is quick to tell them her side of the story.

“I have to stop and tell them what a benefit that I have received personally from pageantry.   I became involved in Ms. America Organization 26 years ago and it funded my way through dental school.  I’m a dentist now,” said Attaway-Yates.

While these may be the images debated about pageants, local pageant organizers want you to remember young women finding a sisterhood and finding their own self esteem.

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