Competing for the Title: Pageant Dads

Stage Dads

"They say pageant moms will pay almost any price to help their daughters get crowned. But now it's time to forget the moms, because there's a new group in town " here come the pageant dads," Dr. Phil says.

Watch as David prepares 4-year-old Ava for her next pageant.

Dr. Phil asks David how he got involved in pageants with his daughter.

"I had a little girl, and I had no idea exactly what I was supposed to do with [her]. I knew I loved her very much. One day, I walked in to the mall and saw an advertisement for a beauty pageant," David says. He says it took off from there. 

"You said something there toward the end [of the video] that really bothered me. You said, ‘I deserve the notoriety,'" Dr. Phil says. "This is about you and not about her."

[AD]"The costuming is about me," David says of his passion for designing. "I make everything." He says that although he does everything now, he'd like to hire a professional coach for his 4-year-old daughter.

Ron says he spares no expense in the pageant careers of his 3-year-old twin daughters.

Dr. Phil says, in his experience, children are not interested in winning or losing. He says when he coached basketball, the kids just wanted that trophy. Ron agrees and says that for the girls, it's a family thing. When one wins, the other will proudly share with her sister.

Ron says they spend considerable money on the pageants, sometimes as much as $25,000, depending on whether they are state or international competitions. The prizes for big pageants can be anywhere from cash to multiple cars.

"How many cars have you won?" Dr. Phil asks.

"[We] haven't won one yet, but we're working on it," Ron says.

David says he doesn't spend nearly as much as Ron on a pageant. "I'm a little bit more budgeted when it comes to the pageants," he says.

Dr. Phil asks the two if their paths have ever crossed before now. "We'd be best friends if we had. He'd be making my dresses!" Ron says of David. Ron says in order to focus exclusively on his daughter's "pageant careers" he sold all of his many businesses. 

[AD]Ron's wife, Kelly, who makes a living doing the makeup of young pageant contestants, says, "I think sometimes it's a little over the top."

"I've talked to pageant moms about this, and they look at me like I don't get it, so I'm glad to talk to some men about this. Does it bother you at all to dress these little girls up like they are 25 years of age?" Dr. Phil asks.

Hostilities mount as the guests try to answer whether their children are sexualized and exploited. "I've been asked that about exploitation," David says, "but with anything, it's how you view this. The person [who's] sick in the head is the one viewing them. I see a lot of 25-year-olds and I don't see any in a fluffy dress and bow in their hair." David adds that his 4-year-old daughter, Ava, has full control over what she wears and does, choosing colors and making other decisions.

Ron says he and his wife didn't want their daughters involved with pageants at all. "At 9 months old, one of our children crawled up in the hair and makeup chair and was not getting out. She wanted to be pretty and put on a pretty dress " and that was the end of discussion," he says.

[AD]Dr. Phil isn't buying it. "I've got an 8-month-old granddaughter, and she's not making conscious decisions about career direction," Dr. Phil says. "I think it's great that dads are involved with their daughters. I love that aspect of this. Little girls like to play dress up, so I get that, but let's let common sense come into play here " you're spending half a million dollars on this." Dr. Phil asks the two fathers whether they worry they are prematurely spending money that would be better used later on in life on. They say it's not a concern.