Oct. 22, 2010— -- The Pageant Mom is as much a part of the junior beauty pageant scene as taffeta dresses and sparkly tiaras. For some, it's the ultimate mother-daughter bonding experience.
But in a growing number of families, it's dad -- not mom -- playing the role of pageant coach, makeup artist, costume designer, cheerleader and shoulder-to-cry-on for their little girls on the pageant circuit.
Alex Salazar, 33, says he's proud to be a Pageant Dad.
His 6-year-old daughter Emily started competing when she was 3 months old and has a roomful of trophies to show for it. They practice together many hours a week, even if it means skipping the big game on Sundays.
"[My friends] started teasing me in the beginning," Salazar said on "Good Morning America." "But it's memories with my daughter that I won't get back later in life."
Salazar says the experience has strengthened their bond, and taught Emily valuable life lessons.
Pageants are "a building block for her," he said. "I want to teach her to win gracefully and lose gracefully."
Alex Salazar is hardly alone.
On the hit TLC reality show "Toddlers and Tiaras," David Perez coaches his 3-year-old daughter Ava.
"I am the superdad of pageants," he bragged.
Bryan Latta also spends his free time shepherding his daughters Laney and Lakin from pageant to pageant.
A general contractor by trade, he builds the props for their talent routines. And it doesn't stop there -- he mixes the music for their performances, coordinates the girls' outfits, and even dresses himself to match.
"I started dressing to match the girls' outfits, whether it be a tie or a shirt or whatever the case may be. I tried to play the angle that I help them instead of hurt," he said.
Latta admits it hasn't always been socially acceptable.
"I got teased a little bit when I first started doing this," he said. "Several years back, there weren't a lot of dads involved."
But lately, he added, "more and more fathers have been coming around."
Pageant Dads: It's Not for Everyone
Not every Pageant Dad is so enthusiastic.
Barry Sterling goes along with it reluctantly because it's important to his wife and daughter. If he didn't participate, he said, "It would create friction in our marriage and I didn't want to be fighting about it all the time."
But for those who love the pageant life, like Bryan Latta, the experience is priceless. "What is it about daddies and daughters?" he marvels. "It's magic, isn't it? It really is."