Sofia, age 3, lives the princess life as a pageant contestant. Her mom shared what their life is like preparing and participating in competitions, and how she ensures her daughter is still a regular kid too.

Brigetta lives in North Carolina with her husband Brad and three children. Dominic is 17, Jordan is 15 and Sofia is 3. Brigetta grew up in a family that did pageants, so it was only natural that her little girl would participate, too. No matter what you have seen on TV, the pageant life is not that over-the-top for most pageant kids. Sofia is just like any other little girl. Here's why.

"In our blood"

Sofia pageant wearBrigetta started doing pageants herself in elementary school and loved it. She was followed by her little sister, then her niece. "It's in our blood," she said. "What little girl doesn't like to play dress up?"

Sofia started doing pageants when she was around 15 months old. Brigetta reported that she was a clingy baby, and from her own personal experience, pageants can be a huge self-esteem builder. About Sofia's first pageant, Brigetta said, "Did she win? Nope. Did we have fun? Yes!"

At first, her husband wasn't really on board with the idea because all he knew was what was shown on television, on reality TV shows such as Toddlers and Tiaras. "He came around when Sofia would ask daily to do a pageant," she shared. "He is 100 percent on board now and he encourages her to smile pretty and to have fun!" Brigetta and Sofia usually have an entourage on pageant day — her mom, sister and niece accompany her and Sofia, so it's a fun family day out for them all.


Sofia- pageants blowing bubblesPreparation for pageants depends on whether it is a "natural" pageant or a "glitz" pageant. Natural pageants are those that require age-appropriate clothes, don't allow makeup and emphasize the interview as opposed to judging heavily on looks.

Sofia participates mostly in natural pageants, and those require little preparation. "If it's a 100 percent natural pageant, we usually just grab a dress and go," Brigetta explained. "If it is a State or National pageant, we have to make sure we have the right headshot, custom outfits and dresses. Those tend to take weeks to get everything together for."

One important point that Brigetta made was that Sofia is allowed and encouraged to choose the clothing that she wears for the pageants because she is more comfortable and usually does better if she's in something that she likes. "Sofia does 90 percent natural pageants and the other 10 percent are a little more glitzy," she said. "She tends to like the natural ones better so those are the ones we choose to do." Another consideration for her family is cost — some can cost up to $1,000 (and more) to enter, so they avoid those.

Sofia's pageant awards

Important considerations

If you're looking to enter your child into pageants, Brigetta suggests that you make sure the pageant has a business license. "There are a lot of 'pageant moms' who just up and have a pageant and most of the time they are not legit," she told us. "We stay away from those kinds. If they can't provide that information, then we don't do it. You should also make sure there is a system in place to assure that your child is in a safe environment. Most of the legit pageant systems have a safety plan in place."

The day she tells me she doesn't, that will be our last day competing, because at the end of the day it's all about her anyways.

Above all, consider your child. Brigetta said that Sofia adores pageants. "She has the best time!" she happily shared. She also told us that Sofia loves to make it a competition between herself and her cousin to see who will win the big title. She did say that Sofia prefers small crowns over big ones — like any little girl, she likes to wear her crowns. "I am not one of those moms who doesn't let her play with them," she explained. "They are hers, she won them and she can play with them all she wants."

Brigetta also knows when they will call it quits, if that day ever comes. "I love seeing her light up the stage with her personality," she shared. "She truly enjoys being on stage, and as long as she loves it and wants to do them, we will continue. The day she tells me she doesn't, that will be our last day competing, because at the end of the day it's all about her anyways."

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