Chiefs of one of America’s most contentious child beauty pageants have confirmed they will stage their first-ever Irish show under heavy security in September.
Texas-based Universal Royal Beauty Pageant said the identity of the hotel where they will stage the glitzy €20,000 event will be kept under wraps to prevent a media backlash.
However, bosses confirmed that the beauty contest will be open to “babies, toddlers and teens” — and will include a heat with youngsters decked out in swimwear — with “great prizes and trophies” on offer for the winners.
They also said the event would be no different to previous controversial pageants held regularly across the US, which often include children as young as three or four wearing false eyelashes, hair extensions, and push-up, padded bras.
Children’s watchdogs and child psychologists in Ireland have been vocal in their opposition to child beauty pageants, warning that the long-term effects on youngsters who take part could be devastating.
They have argued that innocent children are being exploited, sexualised, and encouraged to be obsessed about their looks, adding that the high pressure put on them to win could lead to mental problems in later life.
Universal Royal boss Annette Hill said she decided to stage the event because there is huge interest from Irish parents.
She said: “I can confirm we’re holding our first Irish pageant on September 21. I’m very excited about it and if it’s successful, it’ll become an annual event.
“After the US and Australia, our next biggest fanbase is over in Ireland. I’ve received loads of emails from people in Ireland, who are interested in entering their children in the event. So I’ve no doubt the pageant will be successful.”
“I’ll have about 10 staff with me to set everything up and will hire a security team for the pageant.”
Universal Royal is the pageant that has featured most on fly-on-the-wall documentary, Toddlers & Tiaras.
In one infamous episode, a two-year-old was filmed dancing to a Madonna song in a white angel robe, which she ripped off to reveal a form-fitting gold bodysuit.
Young contestants who take part in Universal’s pageants also frequently wear painted nails, high heels, fishnet stockings, and fake tans, while some ambitious mothers insist they have botox treatments and camouflage any gaps in their teeth by wearing fitted fake whiter-than-white sets that clip over the top of their own.
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