herald

Friday 24 May 2019

Controversial child pageant plans sequel

ORGANISERS of a controversial child beauty pageant are planning a second show after receiving "huge interest" from parents for their initial event.

Texas-based Universal Royalty Beauty Pageant bosses said the 100-plus applications they've received from Irish parents to enter their babies and toddlers in their first-ever Irish event next month is already "far higher than expected".

And they said they are anticipating lengthening their stay in Ireland to host a second beauty contest the day after the first event at an undisclosed Dublin hotel on September 21.

Universal Royalty boss Annette Hill said: "There's been massive interest from Ireland. We've been flooded with entries and I haven't had time to look through them all yet.

"If things keep going at this rate, I won't be able to accommodate everyone in just one event, so it's looking like we'll be putting on a second show."

Ms Hill, who is staging a child beauty contest in Sydney, Australia, next Saturday also confirmed that eight-year-old US starlet Eden Wood will have a major role at the Irish pageant.

The Arkansas youngster, who's a household name in the US with hundreds of trophies to her name since the age of one, retired from participating in child pageants last year.

But she will still have a full schedule during the Irish pageant that will see her perform a singing and dancing routine, along with meeting and greeting young contestants.

TOP-SECRET

Despite the apparent keen interest in the pageant from parents of young participants, Ms Hill previously admitted that sourcing a venue in Ireland proved a major challenge.

No less than 28 hoteliers turned down her offer to stage the lucrative €20,000 show until a top-secret deal was signed with a Dublin venue.

Ms Hill said a security team will be hired for the event, which will be open to "babies, toddlers and teens".

Universal Royalty is the pageant that has featured most on popular fly-on-the-wall documentary Toddlers & Tiaras.

Young American contestants who take part in their contests frequently wear painted nails, high heels, fishnet stockings and fake tan, while some ambitious mothers insist they have botox treatments and camouflage any gaps in their teeth by wearing fitted, fake sets that clip over their own.

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 argue that innocent kids are being exploited, sexualised and encouraged to be competitive and obsessive about their appearances.

They also believe the high pressure put on young children to win could lead to mental problems in later life.

hnews@herald.ie

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