A proud mum has hit back at critics who say she’s wrong to let her five-year-old daughter take part in beauty pageants.
The online critics say pageants sexualise young girls – but Jade Brogden, 25, argues they’ve improved her daughter’s schoolwork.
Jade takes her daughter Layla-Rose to pageants around three times a month, hoping she’ll be crowned the winner in categories including “best smile, best eyes or best pose”.
Layla-Rose, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, joined the pageant world seven months ago and has bagged more than 50 medals, sashes and crowns – something mum Jade says has boosted her performance at school.
The mother-of-three has spent £3,000 on her daughter’s pageant career so far and fiercely defends her decision to enter Layla-Rose in beauty contests.
She said: “It is nothing like the US shows. People are too quick to judge without knowing the opportunities it provides.
“Layla-Rose loves it, she wants to do it. I am not forcing her.
“The pageants have really excelled her confidence and are a positive impact in her life, especially at school.”
Jade said: “She has done so well in such a short space of time. Pageants are great.
“I don’t understand how anyone can see it in a sexual way, if they do they have a problem. There are no skimpy clothes.”
Jade admits that as well as criticism online, friends and family also raised concerns at the start.
She said: “My family were cautious, but I explained what it is really like and how much she enjoys it. Now they are supportive.
“It’s a natural beauty competition so they are not allowed to wear make-up, a smidge of lip gloss and a bit of mascara maybe, but there is no fake tan or false eyelashes, no fake nails or veneers – not at her age.”
Jade says children are scored in categories including fashion and evening wear, and there is often a talent round.
She said: “She gets to show off on stage. She does a big walk where eye contact with judges is a must. She must get her smile and walk perfect.
“She has training sessions because I know she can do it perfectly and we are so proud.”
Jade says children get judged on more than just appearance.
“It’s about personality too,” she said. “They are interviewed.
It’s also about having fun and she enjoys herself on stage. She feels good about herself and you can see on her face she is happy.“
It may be a hobby for Layla-Rose, but it’s a full-time job for both Jade and Leyla’s dad Howard, 33.
The engaged couple also have two other children, three-year-old Archie and Marilynn, who is six months old.
Jade said: “It is full on. Layla-Rose takes part in two to three charity pageants a month and we have to get all her dresses sorted, drive her to contests.
“It’s exhausting but worth it to see her so happy and confident.”
Jade confesses it’s a costly business: “It is expensive. You have to pay to enter, regional comps are around £300, then we have to raise our charity contribution. Her latest evening dress cost £400, so we probably spend £1,000 on a pageant.
“You could spend thousands on a dress but you can get sponsors for events and charity pageants are cheaper, about £50 to enter.”
Jade has already spent thousands of pounds.
She said: “It quickly adds up with the dresses for various rounds plus accessories.
“Layla-Rose has around 10 outfits, I did start by buying a new outfit for each pageant but quickly learnt my lesson and now she does wear outfits more than once.
“Many amazing business sponsor money, outfits, shoes etc to her to make her pageant journey possible.”
Jade also dismisses rumours that industry is competitive between parents.
She said: “We are just one big family. I’ve not met a nasty mum, we all cheer for each other kids, there is no jealousy if someone else’s child wins.
“Layla-Rose doesn’t care if she wins, she just wants to enjoy it.”
Jade says being involved in the pageant world also means doing a lot for charity.
She said: “Layla does so much work in the community. She wants to change the world. She is so sweet and always thinking of others.
“She has really come out of her shell, it’s heart-warming to see and her school have been very supportive. Layla-Rose takes in her trophies for show and tell.
“She wants to be Miss World – or a teacher.”
Jade added: “The pageants bring up so many opportunities. With regional competitions, if she wins her age group, she will compete internationally. That’s an amazing opportunity.
“Regardless of cost and criticisms, I am excited to see where this takes her.”