NI 'Toddlers & Tiaras' event slammed

NI 'Toddlers & Tiaras' event slammed

Hundreds of concerned people have joined a Facebook group in protest against a child beauty pageant planned for Belfast.

The organisers, Universal Royalty, based in America, announced on Tuesday they were welcoming competitors of all ages for their free international beauty pageants in Australia, Ireland, UK, Spain and Japan.Focused on child competitors and the website describes the events as being for "babies, toddlers and teen(s)" - with thousands of dollars awarded to the winners.Annette Hill founded Universal Royalty in 1995 and has featured on the infamous Toddlers & Tiaras reality TV show.She has said the pageants are designed as a "positive learning experience for contestants to learn competition, positive self confidence and striving to be the very best".It was reported that Ms Hill has organised the new dates to make up for last year, when a Dublin venue pulled out of hosting the event and it was moved last minute to Co Monaghan.Although less than half of the expected participants attended, it still sparked outrage as it is understood a six-year-old girl competed in a bikini.The series of planned events include one in Belfast to take place in September.Cork and Dublin are also listed on the Irish dates, which are set to feature appearances from child pageant star Eden Wood, who featured on Toddlers & Tiaras.However, on the same day the events were announced, a page was set up on Facebook for local people to express their opposition to the controversial competition.Over 600 people have joined up to the page in just two days.The page owner says they "will be taking a firm stand and will be aiming to make sure it does not come to our city".Comments from worried users have said such events are "vile and abhorrent" and have called for them to be banned due to what they claim is "exploitation" of children.In a statement to UTV, Ms Hill said she was "only interested in the hundreds of people that want me to come".

© UTV

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