A SIX-year-old girl wearing a green bikini and dancing to Feeling Hot Hot Hot drew sharp intakes of breath from a crowd filled with novice Irish contestants at Ireland’s first Universal Royalty children’s beauty pageant that took place in a ‘secret’ location today.
After national uproar and calls to ban and boycott the event, a venue was confirmed in the early hours when contestants were directed by organiser Annette Hill to Corrigan’s Kitchen in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan.
Competitors aged from 18 months to 14 years dressed in everything from bikinis to ballgowns competed in beauty, talent and Irish theme-wear rounds.
Due to the controversy surrounding the event, its location had to be changed numerous times, and as a result only 20 or so contestants took part.
The first round was “beauty” or “formal wear”, which started with Ms Hill saying: “We’re going to start with the babies.”
Young girls walked through the beer garden and up on to a raised decking where Ms Hill described their appearance according to their hair and eye colour and their life ambitions.
One toddler’s interests were listed as “modelling, acting, or whatever makes the most money”.
International competitors such as Emilia Ramos and her mother, Kacey, flew in from Australia alongside pageant coach Kylie Drew and her daughter, Lexi.
“She just has a few extensions, fake nails, tan and make-up,” said Ms Ramos of her six-year-old daughter who took an hour to get ready for yesterday’s beauty contest. Emilia admitted she was not a fan of the tans, saying: “I don’t like it all.”
Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay said “pageants of this sort are simply anti-childhood. They're exploitative of children and damaging to them. Children should never be judged”.
Joyce Fegan and Joanna Kiernan