Child welfare campaigners have slammed a pageant that is planning to parade children as young as two on the catwalk at a mini "Miss World" contest, as "damaging, harmful and unwelcome".
In the contest, to be held in London in October, nursery-age toddlers and primary school girls will be judged on their looks and personality.
AdvertisementThe Mini Miss International competition will see girls modelling outfits in formal, sportswear and fashion categories.
"This contest may well have a detrimental effect on the young girls involved," the Mirror quoted Lucie Russell, of children's mental health charity Young Minds, as saying.
"But on a wider level it also sends out a dangerous message to other children that appearance is all that matters," she said.
Michael Connellan, of the Family and Parenting Institute, said that childhood must be defended.
"Parents don't want their children experiencing too much too young," he added.
Toddlers under five in the "baby beautiful" section will be dressed up in party frocks and carried or walked down the catwalk by their mums.
A boys' contest called Little Man International is to be held alongside the girls' show.
"This is a hobby, it's having fun. It's about children enjoying themselves," organiser Pam Boon insisted.
Contestants pay up to 100 pounds to enter the contest, and prizes include a Nintendo Wii games console and shopping vouchers.