A pageant is a contest where the winner is determined by a number of factors, often involving physical beauty, talent or skill. A pageant can be geared toward people of similar gender, marital status or interests. Pageants are held worldwide, and range from small, local events to large, international affairs. The age range for pageant contestants varies from the very young to the very old, and nearly all ages in between.
Pageants typically have a panel of judges who rate contestants on beauty, fitness and modeling ability. Some pageants feature babies and children, while others are geared toward teens or married women. In addition to looks and modeling, some pageants also often feature a talent or dance component. Scholarship pageants, while often featuring evening wear and a talent competition, also typically factor in the contestants' academic achievements and accomplishments.
In the United States, the Miss America pageant has been held annually since 1921. One winning representative from a local pageant in each state competes for the title of Miss America and is also awarded cash, prizes and scholarships. The contestants and the winner are held up as role models for American girls to emulate. Miss America contestants are judged on a variety of criteria, including talent, evening wear and an on-stage interview questions. They also compete in a swimsuit category.
Miss Universe is an international pageant that started in 1952 in California as a bathing suit competition. Contestants from across the globe compete in this annual event. A panel of judges selects the winner based on results from interview, swimsuit and evening gown competition.
Some pageants are geared toward a particular type of contestant. Criteria for pageants can include being married or single, or age, such as a baby or teen. Some of these pageants include Miss World, Mrs. America and Miss Teen USA.
Contestants in glitz pageants typically wear custom, rhinestone-embellished gowns. They may also wear hair extensions, artificial teeth and makeup, even at a young age. In natural pageants, makeup is typically not used by children younger than 13, and more emphasis is placed on the interview portion of the pageant than on appearance.
While most pageant contestants wear gowns and swimsuits during competition, some pageants don't require clothes at all. Many countries have Miss Nude pageants, such as Miss Nude Australia. The winners are then eligible to compete in a Miss Nude International competition. Miss Pregnant pageants, featuring mothers to be, are also held in many countries.