A mum who has spent $18,000 (£10,000) on her 10-year-old daughter's dream to become a beauty pageant queen has hit back at trolls shaming her for it.
Lou Handy, from West Sussex in the UK, has splashed out thousands on everything from travelling to competitions, false lashes, dresses and fake tan for her young daughter, Mia.
The 37-year-old mum has been entering Mia into beauty pageant competitions since she was six, after they caught an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras on TV.
Mia currently holds the title of International Junior Miss UK pre-teen, which has seen Lou fork out on $5,5100 (£3,100) for a trip to Florida and trips to Paris and Texas where the pre-teen has competed in beauty pageants.
But in the past, Lou has been forced to defend herself and other mums against comments that they are ‘disgusting’ for allowing their daughters to wear makeup and fake tan.
“Over the four years, absolutely everything from Mia’s travel, to outfits, hotels and eyelashes definitely pushes the $18,000 barrier,” the mum-of-three said.
“There’s quite a lot of backlash, but it’s a sport – a competition.
“People think we’re dressing our children up as 25-year-old models and they’re being judged only on their faces.
“When she has a show, she practices her walk for 20 mins every day, and she practices for interviews which is an essential life skill.
“When she has job interviews when she’s older she’ll smash them.”
Mia was diagnosed with absence epilepsy when she was seven, which causes her to black out and her body to stop functioning.
Lou claims the contests have boosted her daughter's confidence and has urged trolls to stop slamming the young competitors on social media.
“If you wouldn’t go up to someone and say it to their face then don’t say it online. People think that social media is this magical place where there aren’t any consequences,” Lou said.
“People need to realise, Mia is ten, she’s old enough to look through my phone and see comments and when she’s done an event she always wants to know what people have been saying.”
Lou said friends of hers have told her she’s crazy for dedicating so much time and money into pageants when she has two other sons - Charlton, 14, and Arthur, seven.
But she suspects Mia will want to continue competing in pageants and is happy to support her, despite the criticism of her parenting.
She also insisted the outfits worn by the contestants are age appropriate – with no two pieces and midriffs showing – and are no different to what a dancer of the same age would wear.
“She works really hard, she’s a kid with values – she’s got drive,” Lou said.
“She’s not interested in sitting at home and staring at a screen, she wants to be out doing stuff.
“She loves it and I’m having a blast going with her, if she decides she’s done then we’ll sell the dresses and move on to something else.”
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