Are Beauty Pageants about an Ideal or Diversity?: Thoughts on three recent pageant programs

Analouisa Valencia

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen almost every documentary, movie, or TV series about beauty pageants (well, at least those that appear in the English language). Want evidence? Click here. In the past week I’ve seen three new documentaries/TV specials that raise some interesting questions about whether beauty pageants are about an ideal (“There she is, […]


Measuring Ambition in Afterschool Activities

The American Journal of Sports Medicine

Despite the arrival of summer (which has been way too hot thus far in Boston for my taste!), I’ve been writing, thinking, and talking about children’s afterschool activities more than ever. This is mainly related to the release of Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture, set for September 1, but also because […]


Pageants, Pageants, Pageants! From Miss America to Miss USA to Mini Miss

Cara McCollum and Miss NJ Judges, photo credit to Richard Krauss Photography

A lot has been going on in the pageantry world recently and I’ve been writing and talking away!  All the biggies have gotten some press coverage. 1) Child pageants- Toddlers & Tiaras returned earlier this month and so far the biggest story to come out has been about Tinker Tea (a sick concoction of pixie […]


Pint-Sized Phenoms: Amazing at 7 months & 17 years

Charlotte Brown pole vaulting by Rex C. Curry for the NYT

Have you seen these amazing kids? Let’s start with the youngest, at 7 months, Ryder Blair. While I understand why some would respond negatively (like he should be wearing a helmet, etc.), as a mom I understand being astonished by what your child can do. Check out this video of Ryder “waterskiiing!” While Ryder got […]


Teach Your Children R-E-S-I-L-I-E-N-C-Y

Brain, Child Summer 2013 cover

Since before I became a mother I have loved reading Brain, Child. It’s tagline is, “The Magazine for Thinking Mothers,” and it’s been called “The New Yorker for Moms.” So you can imagine how excited I was when a piece I wrote appeared in this summer’s issue. It’s a book review of Madeline Levine’s latest […]


Novels about Teen Musicians, Romance, and Competition: The Lucy Variations and Allegra

Front cover of The Lucy Variations from Amazon

As I’ve said before, I’m a voracious reader. I like reading most types of fiction, even if they are young adult or middle grade– especially if they deal with subjects that interest me as a researcher, which include kids and competition in afterschoool activities like athletics and dance. Stories about young performers seem to particularly […]


Unleashing Momsters: It’s a Small World of Pageant Reality (originally published on Huffington Post Celebrity)

Unleashing a Momster Amazon cover

CLICK HERE TO READ ON THE HUFFINGTON POST CELEBRITY! When Season 6 of TLC’s controversial hit Toddlers & Tiaras premieres on June 5 many of its usual cast of crazy characters will be absent. Some of the tiny tots made famous by the reality show have since “retired,” including Paisley Dickey, Isabella Barrett and Eden […]


Shrinking and Pinking: Sex, Sports, and Sociology

Samantha Yarnell and Taylor Jones, Rich Cooler for Daily

It’s always fun when a sociological study makes it into the mainstream press (for a good reason)– especially one about sports. A new paper out in the International Review for the Sociology of Sport titled, “Where are the female athletes in Sports Illustrated? A content analysis of covers (2000–2011),” has been making the rounds, especially […]


More Talking, and Writing, about Competition (while being a mom)!

Photo of Ricardo Portillo, Rick Bowmer for AP

It’s been a busy week; and I suspect it will continue to get busier as I prepare for the release of Playing to Win– or at least I hope so! Before detailing those though, some thoughts on making all this work as a mom: On the day I did the two TV appearances described below, […]


Pint-Sized Phenoms: Creating and Destroying While Setting Records

Guan Tianging and Tiger Woods at Masters, Don Emmert Getty Images

For the most part, Guan Tianlang, had a pretty good month. At 14 not only is he the youngest player *ever* to participate in the Masters, but he also was the only amateur to make the cut, earning him additional coverage (which thankfully wasn’t overshadowed by the latest Tiger Woods scandal). While Tianlang did have […]