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Natural beauty pageants are beauty contests that are designed to show off a contestant’s natural good looks, poise and charm. They place more of an emphasis on a person’s natural appearance and inner beauty than more artificial contests such as glitz pageants. Like with other beauty pageants, natural beauty pageants cater to a range of age groups from babies to teens and adults.
Each natural beauty pageant has its own set of rules. There are around 3,000 pageants in America alone, with more in other countries across the world. Natural beauty pageants, however, do have their own rules, many of which are similar in different contests. This includes rules such as there being only one chaperon and rules dictating elements such as make-up, hair styling and costumes. Miss America, Outstanding Teen and Mrs. International are all examples of natural beauty pageants.
Make-up rules for each natural pageant vary from pageant to pageant, but also from age group to age group. Children up to the age of 12 are usually expected to wear no make-up at all, although some contests allow mascara and lip-gloss. Teens and adults are allowed to wear make-up, but only so it enhances their natural beauty and does not change their appearance. Professional make-up artists are often not allowed into the dressing room with the contestant.
Hairstyle rules are similar to make-up rules. Wigs, wiglets, hairpieces and flippers are usually banned, as they change the hairstyle. Excessive hair styling such as the overuse of hairspray, dye and other styling techniques is frowned upon or banned. A contestant’s hair is expected to be natural and, again, hair stylists are usually banned from the dressing room as well.
Clothing for natural beauty pageants should be tasteful and plain. Some contests encourage children to wear their school uniforms or jeans and t-shirts. While home designs are OK and alterations to off-the-rack dresses are allowed, clothing should not be ornate. Costumes such as cupcake dresses or more elaborate pieces are typically used for glitz pageants only.
Contestants are encouraged to be their natural selves. This means natural expressions and energy. They are expected to be elegant, smooth and poised. Postures are not supposed to be stylized or faked.
A contestant’s personality is also a more important part of natural beauty pageants than in glitz pageants. Each pageant will include interviews, opening speeches and on-stage questioning. This means that inner beauty is an important element and contestants are expected to be well-spoken.
The criticisms that have been leveled at beauty contests have also been aimed at natural beauty pageants. Some believe that such pageants encourage children to act like adults, encourage the objectification of women, and put beauty over brains and personality. There is a fear that such contests encourage children and women to aspire to abstract notions of what beauty is, leading to a host of mental issues and plastic surgery. Natural beauty pageants aim to recognize that beauty is diverse and that it should come naturally packaged and not enhanced or forced.