Science & Tech

The whys and woes of child beauty pageants

1 min read

Undergraduate researcher inspired to understand behavior

Hilary Levey, a member of the Harvard College Class of ’02, studied child beauty pageants. “With the death of JonBenet Ramsey, there’s been a barrage of interest in beauty pageants but no sociological studies,” she said. Levey decide to rectify that. She found that there is a high financial cost to competing in beauty pageants. Parents typically spend between $100-$200 on pageant clothing, although some pay as much as $1,000 for a gown. Pageant fees cost another $100-$200 per contest, and 41 mothers who Levey interviewed had their children compete in an average of five pageants a year. But parents believe the costs are worth it because their children gain poise and confidence. “She learns skills such as going out in a crowd, not to be shy, and to be herself while people are watching and focusing on her,” one mother noted.