A coed pageant is a pageant for young girls and woman typically ranging from ages 3 to 22. While many pageants have bathing suit scores that tend to focus on physical appearance, coed pageants eliminate this category to focus more on the natural inner beauty of contestants. Some parents prefer that their daughters enter this type of pageant, because it does not require contestants to wear a lot of makeup. Among the incentives of a coed pageant is the participants' ability to win scholarship money to help pay for their college educations.
Competitions are held at both the state and national level. Contestants are typically split up by age group to compete. The youngest division allows girls ages 6 and under to compete and is often known as the princess division. There are several competition levels for older children and teen contestants. The oldest age division, made up of college-age women, is known as the coed division.
Young coed pageant contestants who are ages 12 and under are not allowed to wear makeup to compete. Older girls are encouraged to use only a small amount of makeup. Coed pageant competitors typically do not enhance their appearance using fake eyelashes, hair extensions or veneers.
The world of coed pageants strives to help young ladies excel academically. Many coed pageant contestants have high academic averages in school and are on the honor roll. Contestants with slightly lower grades usually excel in other areas, such as volunteering, sports or music. Girls of all shapes and sizes are encouraged to compete in coed pageants, and coed pageant participants of various heights, weights and nationalities all stand an equal chance of receiving a crown.
Girls who participate in a coed pageant need to provide their own business outfit and gown. Young ladies in the pageants are judged on evening wear and interviews. There also is an optional talent competition that girls can enter.
The term "coed pageant" may confuse some people who expect there to be young men in the competition, as well. The name of the pageant dates back to the early 1980s, when only college-age girls were allowed to enter the competition, hence the word "coed". Over the years, the natural beauty pageant circuit started to allow girls in their teens and younger to enter, but the original name stuck. As of 2011, this type of pageant is still strictly for female contestants.