Little fashionistas or Lolitas?

A BRITISH tabloid recently featured a contestant for the Little Princess Prize in the Miss Mini Princess UK competition, an American-style children’s beauty pageant taking place in Leicester this month.

Lexci is just three years old.

And photographed wearing full makeup and big blond hair. She has £400 worth of new costumes a month, the current one “a bikini-style two-piece” to be worn with heels.

Her mother entered Lexci for the competition – where she’ll be judged on looks, poise and outfits – after watching the hit television show, Toddlers And Tiaras, a controversial American reality TV series that follows the world of child beauty pageants.

In one programme, one little girl was seen in a constant tantrum as she clearly hated the whole process while her mother kept repeating how much she loved it and what a girlie girl she was.

Most of the parents seemed to spend vast amounts of time and money traipsing around such events.

Not surprisingly, the UK competition has aroused controversy.

Claude Knights, director of the children’s charity Kidscape, summed this up: ‘I’m very concerned about this sort of contest for such young girls.

Not only is there the “Lolita” issue of little girls being sexualised, dressing as adults and not being aware of the sort of feelings this can provoke in others, but they are also too young to give informed consent.’

Maybe he had in mind another contestant, whose mother declared: ‘My daughter, Jade, might want to be a topless glamour model when she’s older. A pageant like this will help develop her confidence.’

But who would want to put their daughters through such treatment?

And why are these children’s beauty pageants even legal, never mind televised? (But then, what about the sanity of pet owners who compete at Crufts?)

And how did all this commercialisation start?

First it was ‘trick or treat’, then school proms and baby showers. Now it’s toddler beauty pageants.

But surely doesn’t all this say more about the appalling standards of parenting than the ethics of the businesses concerned?

After all, who has the final decision what children wear and which activities they indulge in?

Blaming US reality shows for child sexualisation is like blaming the deep-fat fryer for obesity.

Nora Johnson’s novels, Soul Stealer & The De Clerambault Code ( available from Amazon in paperback/ eBook (€0.89; £0.77) and iBookstore. Profits to Cudeca

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