Beauty pageants started in the United States in 1921, when the owner of an Atlantic City hotel struck upon the idea to help boost tourism. However, the idea had already circulated through "Most Beautiful Child" contests held in major cities across the country. The Little Miss America pageant began in the 1960s at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. Originally, it was for teenagers from 13 to 17 years old, but by 1964 there were over 35,000 participants, which prompted an age division. The modern child beauty pageant emerged in the late 1960s, held in Miami, Florida. Since then, the industry has grown to include nearly 25,000 pageants. It is an increasingly lucrative business, bringing in about a billion dollars a year.
In 2001, HBO aired its Emmy-winning Living Dolls: The Making of a Child Beauty Queen, which garnered much attention.