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Beauty contest Shutterstock
Jillian van Turnhout

Senator calls for child beauty pageant to be cancelled

The Universal Royalty Beauty Pageant is taking place in Dublin this weekend, but Jillian Van Turnhout said the contest has ‘no place in Ireland’.

IRELAND’S ANSWER TO a ‘Toddlers in Tiaras’ style beauty pageant is to take place this weekend in the Bracken Court Hotel in Balbriggan.

However, in the Seanad today Jillian Van Turnhout has called for the child beauty pageant to be cancelled.

Only yesterday, the French Senate voted to make it illegal for anyone under 16 to be entered into these competitions, with any organisers of such a competition facing two years in prison.

Over the last two years the the children’s beauty pageant known as the Universal Royalty Beauty Pageant has caused controversy, with critics stating that such contests sexualise girls at a young age.

The pageant’s Facebook page has this video to advertise a meet and greet that is taking place with Annette Hill, the event’s organiser. Here is another clip:

(Eden Wood/YouTube)

Sexual exploitation

Speaking to, Senator Van Turnhout said she commended the French Senate for imposing criminal sanctions. She said that the beauty pageant taking place this weekend is “horrendous,” adding, “it has no place in Ireland”.

She said that she wanted the competition to be cancelled this weekend and said she would be looking into how legislatively it can be handled in the future.

“Contests like this are about the early sexual exploitation of children, simple as that. The pageants have a very negative effect on a child’s development. I understand that there is well-meaning parents out there who enter their children into these contests, but we have the evidence, we have the research that states that this can have a devastating effect on a child’s development,” she said.

She added:

We can’t let this creep into Ireland. We have seen it with clothing and young children, and that is now being dealt with, but these contests have no place in this country.

Earlier this year, the pageant organiser Annette Hill denied that pageants, such as the one she is organising, sexualises young children.

She said they are not looking at children in such a way, “so if you’re doing it, then that is disturbing and disgusting. We’ve been around for eighteen years. Don’t you think if we were sexualising kids, someone would have said something by now?”


Ms Hill, from Texas, organises the beauty pageant which is open to both girls and boys, with one heat of the competition having the children wear swimwear.

Annette Hill started pageant company in 1995, with the website stating that she wanted “a pageant to be a positive learning experience for contestants to learn competition, positive self confidence and striving to be the best”.

Here is a clip of one of the winners in 2012:


Read: ‘Beauty pageants do not sexualise children’ says contest organiser>

Read: French Senate votes to ban child beauty pageants>

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