Eleanor M. reviews a BBC3 documentary about a beauty pageant for pre-teen girls
As with all documentaries delving into the perceived ‘freakier’ side of Britain, you have to take BBC3’s Baby Beauty Queens with a pinch of salt and remind yourself that the participants are being, more or less, exploited by the documentary makers. But I have to admit the subject of this documentary, a pre-teen beauty show, left me in doubt as to whether Britain hasn’t fallen into some terrifying 1950s time warp.
Back in the bad old days, beauty contests were all the rage, showing off the elegance and poise of some lovely young gels (anything to distract them from thinking for too long, it could be dangerous!)
Mini Miss UK, however, is surely a new low. The brainchild of a former model, with contestants as young as six, it aims to find the prettiest child in our United Kingdom, and crown her, in all her rosy cheeked, dewy-eyed glory.
The programme itself follows three contestants, Madison, Sasha and Tyla. Each is desperate, (or rather, they are told they are desperate) to win the title. Madison, whose mother is a beauty therapist, is first introduced to us gazing silently at the camera, her face plastered in makeup. Seconds later, we watch as she is sprayed down with fake tan, her tiny face screwed up against the cold spray. Her mother asks if it was fun. “No,” she whispers, barely audible, “I’m frightened.” She is nine years old. It was uncomfortable to watch, to say the least.