On TLC's 'Toddlers & Tiaras,' Little Divas Make Their Entrance

Pint-sized pageants have become big business as "Toddlers & Tiaras" chronicles.

ByABC News via logo
July 21, 2009, 2:31 PM

July 21, 2009— -- They say everything is bigger in Texas, and for the state's pint-size beauty pageant queens, that includes the hair, the crowns and the attitudes.

The little girls are show stoppers on "Toddlers & Tiaras," which has its second-season premiere Wednesday on TLC. This time the show follows the Universal Royalty pageant, a Texas competition in which nearly 100 young participants compete for the title of "Ultimate Grand Supreme" and $1,000 cash.

One of the contenders is 4-year-old Eden Wood, who's wearing a Las Vegas showgirl outfit in the first episode. Eden's been sashaying across the stage since she was 1, winning hundreds of trophies and crowns.

Click here to see more of Eden Wood's pageant photos.

She especially likes getting all dolled up, she said. "My mamma puts my makeup on, and I really wanna get good with my makeup, and I like to do my makeup."

Her biggest fan is her mother, Mickie Wood, a former beauty queen who hopes that Eden will go from tiny Taylor, Ark., all the way to Miss America some day.

"It's sort of like small town, big dreams. Any time you come from a town with 556 population, you know it's big time for us," said Wood.

Her daughter is a natural talent, according to Wood. "She just shines when she comes on stage, it's the entertainer in her."

But Wood admits that behind that little entertainer is a big diva. "She's very independent and very opinionated and, you know, within a few moments of going to a photo shoot or meeting someone I can tell you if she's gonna, she doesn't like a photographer, she will tell you. Does she rule the house? Pretty much," Wood said.

Wood has turned Eden's pageants into a second career, and fame doesn't come cheap. A dress can cost up to $3,000. The Wood family said it has spent $70,000 on beauty essentials, such as spray tans, fake hair and photos.

Families like hers have made the pageant circuit a booming business. It's estimated that 250,000 children compete in more than 5,000 pageants in the United States each year. Even a 2-week-old baby boy is competing in this season's "Toddlers & Tiaras."

But family therapist Terry Real warns pageants can cost families a lot more than money.

"Performance based esteem -- I have worth because of what I can do or I have worth because of my beauty -- and what you want to teach your kid is you have worth because of who you are, period," Real said. "I think these kinds of contests are very confusing."