Nine year old Aisling Murphy was one of around 30 child contestants who took part in a controversial US-themed child beauty pageant in Co Monaghan on Saturday night.
Aisling, who came first in her age category, doesn’t think much of those who criticise her efforts. “People write some silly things but I ignore them. I don’t really care what they say – I can do what I want.”
Aged from as young as 18months up to 14 years old, the children competed in sections such as ‘beauty’ and ‘formalwear’ against their peers in the Universal Royalty Pageant.
With her mother “crazy pageant Mama” Stephanie in attendance, Aisling spoke to RTE radio after the event to share the experience of the “crazy pageant day”.
“It was really stressful,” said Aisling. “We went to bed about 230am and we got up about 630am to do hair and makeup. We normally don’t have breakfast on pageant days.”
‘Fans’ of Aisling who follow her on Facebook and Twitter had called to the hotel room the night before the competition so that she could sign some autographs, explaining the late hour.
Nonetheless, full preparations were required including makeup, fake tan and the donning of the beauty pageant “cupcake” dress.
Aisling said she loved the stage but was slightly disappointed as “it was really small and I didn’t get to do much”.
She draws from a US pageant show for inspiration for her ‘act’. “I watch Toddlers and Tiaras and I learn all the faces and everything from that.”
“You do these body movements where you have your hands on your hips,” she said. “You need to have your eyebrows up and full of smiles.”
In fact, there was a small contingent from the US competing in Ireland at the weekend event, of whom Aisling expressed her admiration.
“There’s these girls from America,” she gushed. “I love how they look – they have soft skin and lovely teeth.”
Last week, the four-star Bracken Court Hotel in Balbriggan cancelled plans to host the event, claiming the organisers had not identified the true nature of what they were planning to stage.