By Rebecca Drew
MEET the stunning mum who says her three-year-old daughter has overcome her shyness since taking part in beauty pageants.
Production chemist and mum-of-two, Danielle Gipson (27) from Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA first entered her daughter, Ariel (3), in a preliminary mall pageant in March this year not expecting her to love the process and win the whole competition. Since then, they’ve done several local pageants and have even travelled out of state for others.
Danielle says that before getting into the contests, Ariel was reserved and didn’t know many girls her own age but her confidence has since skyrocketed whilst making lots of new friends. Danielle says she only enters Ariel in the competitions because she enjoys them and if she didn’t, she wouldn’t continue it.
“Ariel loves pageants and the best part to her is dressing in the costumes and outfits and making new friends,” said Danielle.
“She has an older brother, older boy cousin and a god-brother, so there are not many little girls her age to play with and she was not in pre-school yet. So, meeting a lot of new friends who enjoyed going on stage just as much as she did really made her personality shine.
“When we tell her we are going to a pageant she gets excited and talks about her friends she already made and hope to see again.
“We put a lot of preparation into pageants. She has a beauty routine that she practices and usually about two weeks before a pageant we get her all dressed up to practice everything. She thinks it is dress-up so it’s fun for her.
“I do not pressure her into practice, it’s all about if she wants to or not. I even have a ‘pageant game’ I play with her where I ask her to do her poses like ‘pretty feet’, ‘smile’ and ‘blowing kisses’ and when she does each one of them right she knows I am going to chase after her to tickle her.
“I even play this sometimes behind stage if I can before she goes on stage.
“I love watching her compete. She enjoys it and I would not do it if she did not. She loves dancing and when it’s time for the fun routines she gets excited.
“All I want is her to have fun, and if that is not happening it would make me sad.”
It’s not just Ariel who has made new friends through taking part in the pageants, Danielle has also made friends with some of the mums and they share tips with each other.
“You get pageant moms that get upset if their child loses to another kid, but it is expected. Pageants are competitive and the amount of time and money some moms invest makes them feel that their child is obligated to win,” she added.
“However, most pageant moms do get along and support each other. I have a good group of pageant friends that I am close with. We give advice, share hotel rooms and talk without any negativity or hard feelings and praise the child for doing a good job.
“Additionally, if our children are not in the same age line-up then we are able to cheer on one another. We all just want our girls to do well and have fun.
“Pageants are typically one-day events or two to three-day events for nationals. The events are in order from age, with the youngest kids going first usually beginning at 9am.
“We like to get Ariel up around 7am for breakfast and then hair and makeup around 8am. We are then downstairs in the ballroom waiting for her age group for beauty first. Then interview following beauty.
“We then go back to our hotel room to change in to her casual wear or swim wear. She does get candy and snacks in between events to keep her energetic. After swim is outfit of choice which is commonly a costume. She loves this because it’s all about personality, dancing and she gets to use props.
“After all events are done for the young ones, usually around 2pm, we always take her swimming, this is her favourite thing. After swimming she always naps. Pageant competition concludes around 8pm with a contestant party at 9pm. From there Ariel is refreshed and awake to play and meet new friends.”
So far, Ariel has competed in nine pageants, one of which was a national competition. Luckily, she has won many photo competitions and raffles which have paid for her pageant packages.
For the five competitions that Danielle has had to pay for, she estimates she’s spent around £450 so far. Danielle doesn’t intend to continue entering Ariel in competitions after she is five-years-old.
“We do not plan on continuing after age five, unless she wants to. She was two when she started and she couldn’t do many activities within her age group. This was to help with socialising and opening up her personality more since she was shy,” said Danielle.
“People’s reactions when they see my daughter are positive. They say she is beautiful and she has a beautiful smile. We get a lot of positive feedback from judges about her looks and more needing to work on personality.
“Like I said, the pageant world and moms can be very supportive on what is needed to work on. However, some family members do not agree with us putting her in pageants, they think it’s a waste of time. They are happy when she wins but think our money should go elsewhere.
“My husband did not react well to pageantry either. He thought I was forcing her to do this until he came to a local pageant and saw how well she did and how much she enjoyed it. He thought it was good for her too after witnessing her socialising with friends and coming out of her shell.”