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A mum-of-two has defended coating her 3-year-old daughter in fake tan and make-up.

Ria Ferguson, 31, from Bridlington, Yorkshire, loves dressing beauty queen Bella in extravagant sparkly dresses, and claims the child pageants she competes in are ‘harmless’.

Bella loves pageants and all the dressing up that goes with it (Photo: PA Real Life)

Bella loves pageants and all the dressing up that goes with it (Photo: PA Real Life)

The tot is subject to a disciplined grooming routine before each competition, which includes fake-tanning and coats of mascara and foundation.

Ria says the pageants are harmless fun and provide an opportunity for Bella to see her friends.

‘I don’t get why people are so against pageants… You have to be monitored or stamped to attend – there are no perverts watching.’

Ria was first hooked on pageants after watching the popular American show Toddlers and Tiaras.

After doing research on Facebook, she stumbled across a local charity pageant in Doncaster in May 2015, when Bella was just 19 months old.

She cobbled together two outfits – one to show off her beauty and the other to highlight her personality – and drove the short distance to the pageant.

‘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.’

Now, Bella has competed in 20 pageants and has dozens of sashes, crowns and trophies to her name.

Ria Ferguson - putting on fake tan, ready for a pageant (Paco Anselmi/PA Real Life)

Ria Ferguson – putting on fake tan, ready for a pageant (Paco Anselmi/PA Real Life)

‘The night before a pageant I put a fake tan, a washable one, on her,’ says Ria. ‘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.

‘Then when we get to the pageant her make-up is done by a professional.

‘I used to use tinted moisturiser, but now Bella gets L’Oreal foundation, bronzer, her eyebrows filled in, eye shadow, 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.

‘She used to have barely any but now she loves a full glitz make-up. She looks about 20 not three.

‘But the next day she washes it all off and she looks like a normal toddler.’

Miss Ferguson has vowed not to stop at foundation and bronzer – she even wants to use fake eyelashes and nails on her daughter.

‘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.

She loves hanging out with the older girls at the pageants and copying the way they strut on stage.

We’ll keep doing pageants until she’s fed up with them but she absolutely adores them.’

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