The history behind beauty contests can be traced back to an ancient European custom that used beautiful young women as symbols of their nation’s virtues or festivities. In the United States, P.T. Barnum (the creator of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus) started the first modern pageant in 1854. However, the contest was shut down due to public protest. Instead he used women’s daguerreotypes. Newspapers soon caught on and held their own photo beauty contests for many years. It has since evolved out of photographs. The purpose behind individual beauty contests vary greatly. Towns use beauty contests to celebrate holidays or events. Businesses use them to promote their products. And some hold contests just to hold contests.