MEET Katie Lambert from Ballymun who at just five-years-of-age holds the title of Leinster’s Supreme Beauty Queen.
The so-called ‘toddlers in tiaras’ phenomenon of child beauty pageants is more synonymous with America but it’s fast becoming a “fun day out” for children in Ireland too.
Beauty pageants for children started in Ireland almost in secret in April 2011 for fear of the outrage and controversy it would trigger.
However, Katie’s mum Linda Lambert insists that the beauty pageants that her daughter has entered and won are far from the outrageously over-the-top exhibitions we associate with American culture.
“It’s like a princess day,” she told Northside People.
“Katie dresses up in princess clothes and walks up and down. She doesn’t know it’s a competition.”
Linda assured that she would never force her child to do anything that she didn’t want to or didn’t enjoy.
“If she didn’t feel comfortable, I wouldn’t let her do it. Contrary to what people may imagine, Katie doesn’t wear make-up. She and the other contestants don’t wear wigs or a false tan and they are not allowed to show off their bellies.”
She added: “It’s not like the American beauty pageants. It doesn’t even come close to it. Katie kind of just goes out on stage to play and bounce around and doesn’t have any act or anything in particular that she needs to do.”
According to Linda, competing in these beauty pageants can also be done on the cheap compared to the thousands of dollars, which is often spent on the outfits and appearance of beauty queen hopefuls in America.
“I get Katie’s dresses on eBay,” she explained.
“The last one I bought was for about e30 and she has three dresses in total.”
There are three categories in most of the beauty pageants – casual wear, cocktail wear and a final category of ‘dress up’.
In Katie’s case she will don leggings, a t-shirt and flat ballet pumps for ‘casual wear’ followed by a “good dress” for cocktail wear. The latter category is undoubtedly where the children get to indulge in their imagination and playfulness while wearing so-called princess dresses.
“It’s really great fun for the kids as there’s music playing as they walk up and down,” Linda explained.
“The first time Katie competed she got me to walk with her but she takes off on her own now ever since then with no problem.
“The events are really well organised as well because no child is left on stage without a prize to go home with.”
Katie has won top prizes in all of the pageants she has entered to date and has even scooped prizes for ‘Best Eyes’ and ‘Best Hair’.
She has been signed to StarNow talent agency and her story of beauty pageant success will also be shown in an upcoming television documentary examining the growing popularity of child beauty pageants in Ireland.