Glowing in fake tan, full make-up, false lashes and a flowing hairpiece, Barbie Loveridge looks ready for a night on the tiles. But Barbie isn’t old enough for nightclubs – in fact, she’s still in primary school.
The 9-year-old gets dolled up once a month for beauty pageant competitions, and no embellishment is spared on the pretty school girl.
Mum, Samantha Pavey, 29, spends up to £350 a month turning her daughter into a pageant princess – and even pays for false nails and spray tans to ensure the perfect look.
The stay at home mum-of-three loves sparkles and the colour pink – and began entering Barbie in pageants at just 7 years old.
Samantha, from Peterborough, Cambridge, says, ‘On a pageant day Barbie wears more make-up than me when I go on a night out. She always has false nails, we use stick on ones so we can get them off in time for school.
We do her hair – I cut, curl and style wigs so she can wear it up – or we put extensions in for the pageant so she can wear it down in curls or with large flicks at the bottom. We put on fake eyelashes rather than mascara so she doesn’t have leftover makeover everywhere for school.
‘She’s full glitz – eyelashes, nails, hair extensions. We don’t go to a pageant without tan on – it’s not worth doing. She loves it and I love it – we’re completely hooked now.’
With Barbie demanding new and ever-more bejewelled outfits, the mother-daughter hobby is racking up a hefty price-tag, too. But Barbie loves every moment she gets to spend in the spotlight: ‘I love being on stage, I love having new outfits and dresses. I love getting new crowns,’ she says.
Barbie has 20 hairpieces so she can transform herself for each pageant and embrace ever-more glamorous looks. And the mother-daughter team have been to over 30 pageants in the past two years.
‘It’s around £150 for an outfit, £40 on music, £70 to enter and then there’s the nails, the hairpieces, travel, the list goes on and on,’ admits Samantha. ‘It’s the beauty dresses which cost more – they can cost up to £300.’
And becoming the perfect pageant princess is a time-consuming process.
Samantha, a hairdresser, says, ‘We do the nails and the tan the night before. Then on pageant day it takes two hours to do the hair and make-up.’
But Samantha insists the tan and make-up is just for the stage – and the rest of the time Barbie is a bare-faced schoolgirl.
‘I prefer how she looks naturally, but on the stage she looks better done up,’ says Samantha.
Despite having two younger sons, Samantha still finds time to cut Barbie’s wigs and add sparkles to her outfits.
Barbie and Samantha have travelled all over the country to attend Britain’s biggest and best beauty pageants. A pageant day involves a hectic whirl of costume changes, with Barbie being made and re-made in different outfits and styles.
Says Samantha: ‘She normally wears three different outfits during the day, there’s hair changes, sometimes the make-up needs changes to match the outfits. She does get quite stressed sometimes from the rush of it, but she knows its got to be done, she just loves doing them.’
And Samantha and Barbie’s friends and family fully support her glitzy pastime.
‘I don’t get criticised by my friends and family, they’re all proud of Barbie and they love what she does,’ says Samantha.
‘Pageants don’t sexualise children. It doesn’t matter what a child is wearing, it’s just clothes. I’d like her to carry on with the pageants, it’s a hobby and keeps her out of trouble.’
And far from being a pushy parent, Samantha claims that it is Barbie who’s constantly begging her mum for the next pageant and a new dress.
‘She nags me, “I want to do this pageant”, “I want to wear this”.
‘She chooses her own look and outfits, I’d never put her in anything she didn’t feel comfortable in.
‘Sometimes she gets nervous about going on stage, but I just tell her she looks amazing and that she looks gorgeous and that she doesn’t need to worry.’
Watch the video and tell us what you think about Barbie’s pageant routines…