Mum enters all six children in beauty pageants
As France prepares to ban child beauty pageants for sexualising children, one mother – who enters all six of her kids into pageants – claims the looks competitions actually protect their innocence.
Natalie Adlington, 32, is part of Britain’s biggest pageant family – all of her kids compete.
Jasmine, 13, twins Willow and Lucas, nine, Poppy, six, and even three-year-olds Logan and Rowan are mad about competitions.
They’ve taken the British pageant scene by storm since they began in March this year, taking home a staggering 36 crowns and more than 60 sashes.
Their story has hit the headlines as France prepares to ban under 16s from entering beauty pageants. The move means organisers have been threatened with two years in prison and £25,000 fines.
Meanwhile, here in Britain, the pageant scene seems to be becoming more and more popular.
And Natalie, and her computer programmer husband David, 34, are fully supportive of their children’s new hobby. So keen are they that they’ve spent £5,000 on competitions and have ferried their offspring all over the country this summer to nine different contests.
The family, from Liverpool, even missed their summer holiday to Disneyland this year so they didn’t miss any competitions.
But full-time mum Natalie says pageants have done wonders for her children and she doesn’t have any regrets.
Natalie said: “I know some people think pageants are bad and are just about appearances – I was even against them at the start – but they couldn’t be more wrong. It’s actually been a really positive thing for my family.”
It all started two years ago when the girls first saw television show Toddlers and Tiaras, the addictively tacky programme which follows a US pageant.
“After the girls watched the show, all they did was beg me and beg me to take them to a pageant,” said Natalie. “I was totally against it at first because they seemed so tacky. But on March 2 last year my mum Marie died from a very sudden pulmonary embolism. She was only 64 and my best friend in the whole world.
“The children absolutely adored her and were grief stricken. We had to find something to get the family through it.”
After careful research online and speaking to pageant directors, Natalie decided to give them a chance.
She took Jasmine, Willow and Poppy to Miss Natural Sparkle in nearby Warrington on March 2 this year – the anniversary of Marie’s death.
She said: “I was taken aback by how much the kids enjoyed it and they even won some prizes. I was so proud of them and I found that I enjoyed it too.”
Since then, the pageant passion has spread to all of the Adlington children – even the boys.
But it hasn’t been cheap. Costumes alone can cost £2,000 each but Natalie, a qualified dressmaker, has saved money by making them herself.
Today she’s just as enthusiastic as her kids – she even lets them wear full make-up, fake tans and bikinis.
She said: “Before we got involved, there was no way I’d have let my youngest daughters wear makeup, fake tan or bikinis. But if they’re at a pageant it’s OK, because it’s not like being out in public – it’s a controlled environment.
“Willow does have a bikini but it’s not a skimpy little thing. She had big pants and a little skirt to cover herself up. As for Rowan, it’s obvious when she’s wearing her tiger costume that there’s nothing sexy about it. It’s a costume, not a bikini.
“I don’t let them dress like that on a day-to-day basis. Only Jasmine is allowed to wear make-up when she’s not competing.
“I have faced some opposition – particularly for letting the girls wear make-up. But I don’t think you’re a bad person just because you want to make yourself look nice. I know people are thinking – ‘how can you make children do that because it’s all about being beautiful.’
“But now I’ve seen the other side of pageants, and I’ve seen what they’ve done for my girls, it couldn’t be further from that.”
Her mother says Jasmine, in particular, has enjoyed a huge confidence boost thanks to the pageants.
Since seeing his children blossom, David, has also come around to the idea of pageants.
He said: “When I first heard about it I nearly had a heart attack. I thought they were a bit over the top, and I wasn’t entirely comfortable with some of the outfits. “But now I’ve been to one – and I’ve seen how much the kids love it – it’s made me think differently.
“It’s like they’re just being the princess for the day – and what father is going to deny his little girls that?”
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