A Dad Banned His Daughter From Competing in Beauty Pageants & Reddit Is Shining the Spotlight on His Flaws

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Perhaps this is shamefully stereotypical of me, but when I think of “pageant parents” I think of those who are overly involved and overly insistent that their child brings home a crown. I think of Toddlers & Tiaras and Honey Boo Boo.

So I was shocked when I saw a dad on the “Am I The A—hole? (AITA?)” subreddit asking if he was an a—hole for refusing to let his daughter compete in pageants. He started by saying he was “always against” the idea of his 15-year-old competing, because he finds the concept “creepy and superficial.” But his teen really wanted to and his wife was supportive, so he finally agreed.

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“My daughter did well, and I could see her making strides in her self-confidence, so I remained supportive,” the man who originally posted (the “OP” in Reddit lingo) said. “I was annoyed that any allowance she received went on makeup or clothes for pageants, but I understood that it was her money, so she had the right to spend it as she pleased.”

Then Things Changed

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Over the last couple of months, OP saw “real changes” in his teen.

“She is increasingly obsessive over her appearance, criticizing really minute physical flaws, putting immense pressure on herself to do well in them, and any interests or expenses now solely go on pageant-related activities.”

What he’s most worried about, though, are her eating and exercise habits. OP explained that she runs most days, exercises to “excessive levels,” and “barely” eats anything in her packed school lunch. She instead buys yogurt and fruit in the cafeteria. She also orders salads or “something else low-calorie” when they go out for meals as a family.

“After I found a calorie-counting app on her phone, that was the final straw. I told her she was no longer allowed to compete in pageants, as I didn’t think it was healthy for her,” OP said. “She cried and said I couldn’t do this and was taking away the main thing she loved doing.”

OP went ahead and withdrew his daughter from the upcoming competition. She isn’t talking to him and his wife feels somewhat lukewarm. “She says while she understands, she thinks it was too far to ban my daughter from pageants and should have just made sure she ate properly or put conditions on her competing.”

So now he wants to know, is he the a—hole?

Reddit’s Reaction

SUQIAN, CHINA - MARCH 7, 2024 - Illustration Reddit IPO, Suqian, Jiangsu Province, China, March 7, 2024. (Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Honestly, the comment section on this post is a bit of a mess. The overarching theme is that OP is not the a—hole. In fact, most people say he did the right thing. But! There’s a whole lot more he needs to do.

“The thing is, if your daughter is developing an eating disorder that can happen with or without pageants,” the top comment with 3.4 thousand upvotes said. “Banning pageants isn’t really addressing the problem, it’s just blocking one possible influence. Are you doing anything to address her eating and exercise?”

To which someone quite vividly pointed out just how big of a role the child’s environment plays: “A kid can develop a drug problem anywhere, but if the kid developed the drug problem while hanging out in a crackhouse, I’d think we’d agree the crackhouse visits have to stop. Yes they’ll have to work on the other ways the kid might get drugs, and the underlying reasons for the problem, but it would be ludicrous to think a parent should do that and allow them to still hang at the crackhouse.”

And then the chicken-egg debate continued:

“Just removing her from pageants isn’t going to help her. It’s like taking a knife out of a wound. Like great, the knife is out, but she’s still bleeding. What are you going to do about that?”

The only way he is the a—hole, according to most people, is if he deprived her of something she seemingly loved and is now dropping the ball on her health. Now is the time for therapy. Now is the time for tough conversations. Now is the time for OP and his wife to do something beyond just saying no. It’s probably good that he closed that pageant door, but now he needs to extend a hand.

Before you go, check out some of Reddit AITA’s biggest fiascos where everyone is to blame.

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