The disadvantages of beauty pageants are most dangerous for children, as taking part in these contests often drains their families financially and teaches participants that self-value comes from outward appearance. The lesson that their attractiveness is their only important characteristic leads to emotional difficulties in adolescence and adulthood.
Children who take part in beauty pageants are judged on appearance, which leads to problems for both winners and losers. Those who perennially fail to win often view themselves as lacking value because they did not bring home prizes. Those who do win as children but then develop acne or find others becoming more attractive through puberty often suffer from crises of self-esteem.
The use of hair color treatments, fake eyelashes and dental facades that hide missing teeth teaches participants that it is often necessary to disguise their own visual shortcomings in order to retain their value. Although these items represent a fairly new trend in the beauty pageant industry as of 2015, they also show an alarming trend toward making children feel more negative about themselves than they would have in a contest in which they simply wore fancy dresses and hair bows.
Parents often spend a significant amount of money on pageant costs. The expenses of registration fees, pageant outfits and travel often stretch family budgets to the breaking point.