By Kim Reader
A pageant mum has confessed to ‘rinsing’ her hubby of more than £5,000 to transform her seven-year-old daughter into the perfect ‘little Barbie’ – with fake tan, fake nails and make-up.
Charlotte Darwood, 27, admits she convinced husband Anthony Darwood to cough up for daughter Chiara’s lavish beauty regime and pageant gowns, which cost hundreds of pounds EACH.
Schoolgirl Chiara started glitz pageants at the age of five after asking her mum if she could be like the tots on the TV show Toddlers & Tiaras.
Before every show, Chiara has a FIVE-HOUR makeover in which her mum applies fake tan, false nails, makeup and styles the little girl’s hair before she slips into one of her many frilly frocks.
But Chiara’s hobby is far from cheap, costing parents-of-two Anthony, 29, and Charlotte more than £5,000 in just 18 months.
While welder Anthony was initially reluctant to fork out thousands on Chiara’s pageant career, proud mum Charlotte said the competitions have done their daughter’s confidence a world of good.
Charlotte, of Grimsby, Lincs, said: “The night before her pageants I’ll do Chiara’s fake tan and her nails which usually takes about three hours then the morning before I do her makeup and hair which is another two hours.
“She absolutely loves it. She has always been such a girly girl and she loves getting all dressed up in her little outfits.
“She is so beautiful. She’s like a little Barbie doll when she’s up on stage, she looks like she belongs up there.
“In her bedroom she’s got a princess castle bed and all her crowns and sashes are on display with her dresses.
“She has got so many pageant outfits and some of the dresses cost about £500. It’s definitely not a cheap hobby.
“If your child wants to do pageants and you want them to do well then you can’t scrimp on the dresses. You’ve got to be willing to spend a lot of money and time. It takes a lot of dedication.
“My husband pays for everything which he wasn’t too happy about at first. We do rinse him, bless him.
“But now that he has seen her up on stage and he sees just how much doing pageants has boosted her confidence he doesn’t mind so much.
“Chiara has come out of her shell loads since starting pageants. We couldn’t be more proud of her.
“I was really shy as a kid, I never could have got up on stage and performed the way she does, so it is really nice for me to see her growing up to be so strong-minded.
“She has got something to be proud of at such a young age. She is proud of herself. I never was when I was younger.
“I think when she’s older being able to look back and think ‘wow, I won all those pageants’ will really help her with her confidence especially through those difficult teen years.”
Chiara, who lives with her parents and three-year-old brother Cody Darwood, practices her pageant routines, which include a special walk and dance where she ‘shakes her bum’, every day after school.
Despite only being involved in pageants for a short time, Chiara has already been given a ‘Supreme’ title ten times, brought home 15 crowns and won so many sashes that her mum has lost count.
Taking part in pageants hasn’t just made Chiara more confident but also taught her never to give up and made her relationship even stronger with mum Charlotte.
While Charlotte sees the benefits pageants have had on her daughter not everyone agrees – with the full-time mum being criticised for dressing Chiara in ‘skimpy’ outfits.
But the mum-of-two defended herself pointing out that the glamorous costumes are no different to those worn by children in dance and gymnastics competitions.
Charlotte, who has also been accused of forcing her daughter into the shows, said Chiara loves pageants and will only keep competing for as long as she enjoys it.
Charlotte said: “Some people think I’ve pushed Chiara to do pageants but she loves them and she asked to do them.
“I was sat watching Toddlers & Tiaras one evening and she turned to me and said ‘mummy, can I do pageants too’.
“At first I told her ‘no’ because I didn’t think we had them in England but she kept asking so I did a bit of research and found out more about them.
“They’re not what people imagine. Everyone thinks it’s all about beauty and Chiara is beautiful but she has benefitted in so many other ways from pageants.
“She has learnt never to give up on something she loves. Whenever she comes off stage and she hasn’t done well and she gets down about it, I build her back up.
“I tell her it’s all about having fun and she just needs to get back out there and enjoy herself and she does, it’s amazing.
“It has also made us so much closer. Chiara loves having girly mummy and daughter time while we’re getting ready, doing her makeup and nails and choosing her dresses.
“People say it’s wrong and that a little girl shouldn’t be wearing fake tan or makeup or skimpy outfits but nobody says anything when a child is doing a dance competition or gymnastics. It’s really hypocritical.
“This is what she enjoys and that is all that matters to me. My little girl is doing something she loves and she is so good at it.
“At the moment she loves pageants so much I can’t imagine her ever giving them up but the minute she stops enjoying them, we’ll stop doing them.”