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Cable TV crew to film local child beauty pageant for 'Toddlers & Tiaras' episode

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

BERNIE, Mo. -- The Show-Me Smiles Fantasy Pageant in the small town of Bernie has caught the attention of the producers of "Toddlers & Tiaras," a popular reality television show that explores the world of child beauty pageants.

A 12-person production crew from The Learning Channel will film the pageant, slated for 10 a.m. Dec. 13 in the Bernie Community Center. The local footage will appear in the show's third season that will begin airing in late May.

This marks the first time since "Toddlers & Tiaras" debuted in January that scenes will be shot in Missouri, according to co-executive producer Suzanne Pate, who said the "fun" name of the pageant drew her in.

"What I love about [a child pageant] is everybody has their own opinion," Pate said. "People are very passionate, whether they are for it or against it."

Brittney Owens, 22, who has been hosting the Fantasy Pageant with her mother Judy Flannery since 2005, initially applied to be featured on national television.

"I got a phone call from one of the producers from the show, and I was very surprised," she said. "It all happened very quickly. 'Toddlers & Tiaras' was not necessarily looking for a town, but rather an exciting pageant to film."

Casting directors are currently reviewing tapes that were submitted to select three contestants who will be shadowed by cameras for five days as they prepare for the stage.

"We're looking for a full glitz girl that has a standout personality whose parents are very into the pageant world, and supportive of them," Pate said. "We like the girls to have a winning history [in pageantry], but it's not necessary."

Although the producers do not guarantee that locals will be chosen as contestants, 8-year-old Madison Wooldridge of Bernie is bringing experience in the "glitz" circuit to the competition, according to her mother, Heather Woolridge.

"I was contacted by 'Toddlers & Tiaras' because they found out Madi does glitz, which is a different pageant than what we do around home," Heather Wooldridge said.

Wooldridge, who is a banker by trade, mostly travels to Southern states with her daughter, where young girls compete with flipperteeth and fake eyelashes and tans, rather than more natural looks, she said.

"Normally, around here, they wear a long skirt," said Jamie Ellsworth, a seamstress of Christina's Crystal Palace, a custom dress business in Bernie. "With a glitz pageant, the flashier -- the more rhinestones and glitter -- the better."

It was a matter of time before Southeast Missouri was discovered for its beauty pageants, Ellsworth said.

"It's almost unbelievable how many pageants take place on any given weekend," she said.

Guests on "Toddlers & Tiaras" have a choice in how they present themselves, according to Ellsworth, although "sometimes you get crazy people."

Ellsworth, 30, who has competed in local pageants for 23 years, will be entering her 2-year-old son Spencer in the competition. She submitted a casting video of the boy, but she said she does not think TLC will choose him because he is so young.

Boys up to 4 years old and girls from newborns to 18-year-olds will get to compete in various age groups. A total of 125 contestants will be allowed to enter. Crowns, sashes, trophies, savings bonds and other prizes will be awarded to the winners.

So far about 50 contestants have registered from the surrounding area, including Arkansas and Illinois, according to Flannery, Fantasy Pageant co-director. She said she anticipates the event to be an economic booster for Bernie, which has a population of about 2,000.

Clothing categories will include formal wear and an outfit of choice, which could be swimwear or pajamas, for example. False enhancers will be allowed, as glitz is encouraged but not mandatory, as stated in the entry form.

Michael Booth, executive director of International Fresh Faces, a national pageant system, will fly in from Cancun, Mexico, and offer to do hair and makeup for $150, organizers said.

The entry fee for the child beauty pageant begins at $75 and goes up for side competitions, such as "Mommy/Daddy & Me" where contestants can compete together with their parents. A $25 deposit is required by Monday. The cost is $10 to attend.

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I just looked at their website...someone really needs to proofread Brittney's writing before they post it to their website...other than that...I can't wait to see this on TLC :-)

-- Posted by mrs_semo_2009 on Mon, Nov 30, 2009, at 12:37 PM

Toddlers & Tiaras is just wrong. I mean really who is this good for? The poor girls that are forced into this crap in one way or another are brain washed by their parents.

-- Posted by undertow666 on Mon, Nov 30, 2009, at 7:43 PM

These things should be outlawed. They are just kids and they should not be encouraged to prostitute themselves. "False enhancers will be allowed", how ridiculous!

-- Posted by malan on Tue, Dec 1, 2009, at 6:22 AM

I am a parent of a child that will be in the pageant. No one is forced into anything, my child LOVES to get dressed up and feel like a princess..undertow666 you apparently should have had loving caring parents that support their childs dreams, maybe then you would not be such a rude and negative person.

Malan....I would love for you to tell me to my face that my child is prostituting themselves, do you even know what false enhancers are? Do you know what you are talking about? YOU DO NOT. Let me know if you want to meet and I can educate you on the pageant world....you need it!

-- Posted by bulltaco on Tue, Dec 1, 2009, at 5:00 PM


I never allowed my children participate in these things. However, I have had several nieces compete and am not a complete stranger to pageants.

To your face or not, you - the parents, are the ones teaching these children to prostitute themselves. Doll them up with makeup and hairspray and make them look like something they aren't, then strut them in front of the judges. Anything to win right?

No, this isn't just a kids game of dress up. It's a competition for the adults not the kids. Unfortunately in the process, the kids learn through your encouragement that it's OK to deceive in order to win.

I have had discussions with pageant parents before and I understand that you see nothing wrong. You should also understand that there are those of us that think pageants are just legalized exploitation.

-- Posted by malan on Tue, Dec 1, 2009, at 6:18 PM

I think you need to look up the definition of prostitution...



1. the act or practice of engaging in sexual intercourse for money.

If you are saying my child is engaging in sexual intercourse get ready for a lawsuit.

I am not the won that wants to win the crown, I am not the one that begs to go to a pageant, to se her friends and play with them.

How is anyone deceiving anyone?? Are you deranged?

Or maybe just not pretty enough to be in a pageant, if so thats ok...the world needs great people you sit behind a computer all day as well...

In closing, you need to realize that when you say prostitution / pageants are in the same realm of things you better be ready for a re-butte...we don't have to agree on if we like or dislike pageants...but one thing is for sure.....ITS NOT EVEN IN THE SAME REALM AS PROSTITUTION...again look up the definition before you go spouting your opinions.

From my years on this Earth I have learned when someone wants to "talk down" about something it really is a cry out from their own insecurities and failures....for that I am sorry for you.

-- Posted by bulltaco on Tue, Dec 1, 2009, at 10:39 PM

Lawsuit? Funny. Go ahead.

Try looking someplace besides an outdated Websters.

tr.v. pros·ti·tut·ed, pros·ti·tut·ing, pros·ti·tutes

1. To offer (oneself or another) for sexual hire.

2. To sell (oneself or one's talent, for example) for an unworthy purpose.

Here's another one that may have escaped you.


1 : a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them ; broadly : figurative language.

Most children don't just wake up one morning and say "I want to be in a pageant". No, they are entered by adults and cultured purely for the satisfaction of the adults. They may enjoy them but, typically, they weren't the instigators. And surely, you don't expect us to believe you just dress them up to look like regular kids do you?


Oh, really?

1) You get them all dolled up with the hair, nails, make up, and your selection of an outfit that will really make them stand out.

2) You parade them around in front of an entity which will, hopefully, choose them above all the others.

3) The selected winner will receive the compensation or prize.

What's that sound like to you?

From your years on this Earth, I would have thought you would know that not everyone has the same opinion as you. I guess everyone else is wrong though, huh.

You are right about one thing though. Unless it's a pageant for wrinkles and hard knocks, I'm not pretty enough.

-- Posted by malan on Wed, Dec 2, 2009, at 11:08 AM

Once again you proved that you are just a bitter person with nothing better than to rain on a little girls parade. Everyone can have their opinion, as I stated before, if you can comprehend sentences. Your opinion as you state it is so skewed from reality that I wonder if you can. Think what you will, you have no idea what you are speaking about and when you open you mouth you just prove it.

First pageant we did my daughter asked us to be in it...we did hair and put on a Sunday dress....so I guess in your world, doing you hair, putting on a pretty dress and going to church is prostitution as well....guess all the church goers are a ***** for Jesus eh? The selected few will be chosen..your words..wow you are making this easy..

In closing I am done responding to your idiotic views and pitty you and your family and friends (if you have any) that have to listen to the garbage, filth and lies that spew from your mouth.

Go get a spa treatment, ohh wait that may be ********!

Good Day!

-- Posted by bulltaco on Wed, Dec 2, 2009, at 8:39 PM

"garbage, filth and lies" Not sure what you're referring to. All this time, I just thought it was my opinion. Maybe one day you will realize there are others besides yours and they are just as valid as yours.

Oh well, Good day to you too.

-- Posted by malan on Wed, Dec 2, 2009, at 9:53 PM

These things are horrendous. Why would you dress your daughter up like a common street walker with all that make up and glitz? I have no problems with regular old beauty pagaents, dress your child up nice and make sure there hair is fixed, but hair extensions, fake nails and eye lashes on an 8 year old is ridiculous. I have a 1 year old daughter and refuse to put her through it. And the parents are the driving force behind them anybody that subjects their child to this is crazy. This is just my opinion take it for what it is worth

-- Posted by nolanjared on Sat, Dec 12, 2009, at 2:31 PM

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