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Pageants Behind the Scenes: Toddlers, Tiaras, Tempers and Tantrums

Who Will Take the Tiara?

Wood doesn't think all the tanning and makeup and products will make Eden vain, just confident.

"If that was all we did and we were constantly in the mirror primping, if she was overzealous about her appearance, but I don't see that and if I ever did see that I would put a stop to it," she said. "I want her to be well rounded and balanced. It's just not all about beauty."

But TLC cameras did catch Mickie Wood backstage at a pageant telling her daughter, "We have to be perfect!" -- a sound bite she says she regrets.

"I just wanted her to be put together well and look her best," she said. "I've never said, 'Eden you have to look perfect' in the context of you have to look like a perfect child.'"

And those showgirl outfits?

"She's covered everywhere," Wood said. "When I think of a showgirl I think of a beautiful glamorous woman. It's a gorgeous glamorous costume. It's old Hollywood … not sexualizing my child."

Woods does admit that showcasing Eden is the ultimate high, because seeing "the joy and the sparkle that comes over her when she steps on stage … brings back that spark to me."

But in the end, she says Eden is still just a normal kid.

"We live in the country, we go to birthday parties, she drives a tractor, she has a four-wheeler … my child is not missing out on friends on playing on school. I'm teaching her values that have nothing to do with pageants."

On the final night of the Austin pageant Eden and Tarilyn were still neck in neck. The judges said Eden was tired and off her game, but Tarilyn had lost points for being too spray tanned.

"One day the judges say we're not tanned enough … then we're too tanned," sighed Tarilyn's mother. "You just never know what's going to work on any given day."

But too tanned or not, Tarilyn came out on top.

"We're disappointed," Mickie Wood said. "We wouldn't be normal if we weren't. She did her best and onto the next."

For the Woods the pageant is just one of 25 they'll be competing in this year, and in a world where bigger is better, they have their eye on the biggest prize of all. They hope that their toddler in a tiara will grow up to be Miss America.

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