Friday 20 April 2018

US child beauty contest struggles to host Irish event

Eden Wood (7): pageant and reality TV star in the US
Eden Wood (7): pageant and reality TV star in the US

Nick Bramhill

BOSSES of a contentious child beauty pageant are planning their first-ever event in Ireland, despite three separate snubs from worried hoteliers.

Chiefs of the Texas-based Universal Royal Beauty Pageant, which has been running competitions across the US for 18 years, are hoping to host their first-ever contest in this country in November.

Already three hotels have pulled the plug on a proposed event, fearing a backlash of protests from angry parents and regular customers.

But chiefs of the pageant claim they've been inundated by calls from over 300 parents of Irish toddlers, who they say "are desperate for us to come to Ireland".

Texas-based organiser Annette Hill said yesterday she was still confident of running the pageant in November, shortly after she stages her first European competition at a venue in Manchester, UK, in October.

Ms Hill insists she doesn't understand why her pageants are causing such controversy on this side of the water, adding yesterday: "I've seen videos of Irish dancing, with children who've had their hair and eyelashes done and wearing fake tan."

But she said: "It's proving very difficult to find a venue. Three hotels I'd been talking to have cancelled, because they're worried about protesters turning up. It amazes me, because this is no big deal in America where pageants take place every day. But the media get on our backs as soon as we go outside America."

Ms Hill also confirmed she'd be bringing over seven-year-old child pageant star Eden Wood who's a household name in the US after featuring on hit reality show 'Toddlers & Tiaras'.

Secretive

Eden has reportedly had almost $100,000 spent on her by her mother, including weekly spray tanning, photo sessions, catwalk coaching and dresses costing up to $3,000.

Although several secretive child pageants have taken place in Ireland since early last year, the sheer scale of Universal Royal's events will cause concern to parents' groups, who worry about the long-term psychological effects on children who take part.

Irish Independent

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