This baby beauty queen is only three years old, but wears fake tan and makeup

This baby beauty queen is only three years old, but wears fake tan and makeup

The general public is in two minds about child beauty pageants. On the one hand, some find the concept of toddlers strutting their stuff on the stage to be nothing more than adorable, harmless good fun - a special brand of performance that boosts the child's self-confidence.

However, other people often find them to be uncomfortable and weird - a parade of overly-sexualized children trapped in an über-competitive environment thanks to pushy parents. For example, one pageant mom who has managed to divide opinion is Ria Ferguson, who dresses her youngest daughter Bella in sparkly dresses, and even lets her wear false eyelashes, nails and fake tan at toddler's pageants.

Ria Ferguson first became interested in pageants after she first watched the TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras on TV, which introduced her to the competitive world of child beauty pageants. Taking to Facebook, she soon discovered that a charity child pageant was being held in Doncaster, England, in May of 2015. Bella was just nineteen months old, but Ria believes that she took to it instantly. Now, little Bella has competed in twenty pageants and won sashes, crowns, and trophies, and has even been sponsored by coveted children’s designer Tiffany Rose,

Commenting on her daughter's pageant success, Ria stated:

"We went to the first pageant just to see what it was like and whether Bella would enjoy it. She took to it like a fish to water. She loved all the glamour and being up on a stage. She won her age group and was awarded ‘Most Confident.’ From that day, we were hooked ... The night before a pageant I put a fake tan, a washable one, on her. I don’t cake her in it. I do it so she’s just got a nice shimmery tan. She’s got two wigs, a full-length one which cost £90 and a half wig for her updo, which cost £55."

She added:

"When we get to the pageant her make-up is done by a professional. I used to use tinted moisturizer, but now Bella gets L’Oreal foundation, bronzer, her eyebrows filled in, eyeshadow, mascara, and lipgloss. But I don’t do the mascara and lipgloss until the moment before she goes on stage, because she’s only three and there are often tears. Before she gets up there she’s very chatty but once she’s on stage she turns into her sassy persona. She swings her hips and pouts and is a total diva. I’m so proud of her – she’s got so many trophies and sashes."

So, is Ria right to give little Bella such an adult role at such a young age? Or is this taking things a step too far? Who knows; she's certainly managed to stir up debate about the way we treat our children - almost as much as the mom who's recently come under fire for allowing her young son to dress in a Disney princess costume.