Beauty Pageants Can Carry Big Price Tag

March 31, 2010

Better Business Bureau Serving Central Virginia


March 31, 2010


Barbara Homiller--804-648-0030

Beauty Pageants Can Carry Big Price Tag

RICHMOND, Va. – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports that female students from several Richmond-area high schools were recently solicited to participate in an upcoming beauty pageant in Los Angeles.

“Regardless of the legitimacy of an operation, students and parents need to be aware that participation can be costly,” said Barbara Homiller, vice president of the BBB serving Central Virginia.

Homiller said one student who replied to the promotion received a letter stating that she was a state finalist. “We have no idea of the criteria for becoming a state finalist or what percent of initial applicants become state finalists,” Homiller added. The letter explained that in order to “guarantee” a slot in the pageant she must attend a training session at a cost of $240. An additional $200 in fees would be required later.

“We know that a lot of teens are lured each year by the promise of big prizes and a chance for stardom. BBBs across the country get hundreds of thousands of inquiries a year about various beauty pageant promotions,” Homiller said.

The BBB offers the following tips for parents and teens who may be considering entering a beauty pageant:

  • Find out how long the company has been operating pageants and who its directors are. Many of the organizations are for-profit businesses.

  • Learn the total cost of pageant participation for both the entrant and the chaperone.

  • Verify the location (place of business) of the pageant company and the location and date of the actual pageant.

  • Find out the names of the judges and their qualifications. Do they have any affiliation with the company?

  • Determine if refunds are possible if a contestant decides to withdraw from the pageant.

  • Find out exactly what criteria are used for selection of the winner.

  • Determine the obligations of the winning contestant.

  • Seek references, particularly names of former contestants and winners.

  • Ask what benefit will be derived from participating or winning.

  • Read any contract carefully and thoroughly in advance of entering a pageant.

If you are contacted by a pageant company, contact the BBB first for a reliability report on the company. Call the local office of the BBB at 804-648-0030. The reports are also available online at

The BBB in Central Virginia serves Richmond and Tri-Cities, as well as 42 surrounding counties, from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of the BBB include business reliability reports, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, consumer and business education and charity review.