Pageant Mum? Brits aren't loving this crazy American trend

June 1, 2011 at 6:34 PM ET

Hillary Kurtz / TLC /
Little Mia donned a Madonna outfit on the TLC show "Toddlers and Tiaras," which chronicles families who participate in American child beauty pageants. The trend has now popped up in Britain.

Child beauty pageants are gaining in popularity across the pond. And while some British mothers are greeting the trend with excitement, others view it with suspicion and disdain.

Journalist Shona Sibary wanted to find out more about U.S.-style beauty pageants and went “undercover” with her 10-year-old daughter Annie, who she registered as a participant in the UK Cinderella Beauty Pageant.

There are relatively few pageants held in the UK each year in comparison to the thousands held across the U.S. To the surprise of Annie and Sibary, Annie made it through to the next round, where the winner qualifies to participate in a sister pageant in Las Vegas.

Sibary, who wrote about the experience in a story for the Daily Mail, enlisted her daughter's help because she wanted to understand why 24 mother-daughter pairs shelled out big bucks to enter what she calls “a contest that is, in my view, exploitative but also questionably run.”

 “I can almost understand why a little girl would want to spend her Sunday glammed up and pretending to be a model (although Annie is increasingly bored). But why are these parents indulging them in what is, at best, shallow — and, at worst, worryingly sexually precocious?” Sibary writes.

In the end, Annie came in last, and Sibary was left feeling like the bigger loser.

“Of course Annie wasn’t expecting to win — but what 10-year-old girl wants to feel she hasn’t made the grade because her dress isn’t sparkly enough or her hair done quite right?”

If the comments at the end of the article are any judge, Sibary isn’t the only Brit to question the trend.

Says Helana from London:

"I have a very pretty 10 year old daughter and there is no way in HELL that I would put her through something as stupid and ridiculous as this nonsense. The reasons why these silly beauty pageants are wrong are too numerous to mention but suffice to say that my little girl is very happy playing with dinosaurs, her dog and cats and mucking about outside."

And Di, of Oxford:

"This pageantry should be made illegal for all sorts of reasons, the self esteem issues of the children, the rejection alone could be traumatic…"

One reader named Anne simply says:

“Ban them.”

What's your opinion on child beauty pageants?