Newstalk.com spoke to Jennie Lynch to find out more about the world of beauty pageants
When you think of teen beauty pageants the hit US TV show Toddlers and Tiaras is probably the first thing that springs to mind.
The series depicts very young girls wearing makeup, fake tan and wigs, being pushed into parading on stage by their fanatically driven parents.
The show received strong criticisms in its five year run over the apparent exploitation and sexualisation of young girls, however the organiser of an Irish beauty pageant has told Newstalk.com that her events are nothing like that.
Jennie Lynch is the founder of Ireland Pageants and is running an event in Dublin in October for females aged 10-years-old and up.
She said that Toddlers & Tiaras presents pageantry in the "worst possible light".
"Most pageants are not 'glitz' systems like you see on television.
"We encourage a more natural look for our younger contestants and we do not judge on physique or 'looks' at all."
She stressed that she would never allow younger children to participate in her events. Junior Miss Ireland, which allows girls ages 10-14, is classified as a 'pre-teen' event as she believes that age group are old enough to decide what hobbies they'd like to pursue.
"There are no toddlers or babies being forced to dance on stage in our pageants."
Lynch added that there are a lot of similarities between her events, Junior Miss Ireland & Miss Teen Ireland, and the Rose of Tralee held annually in Kerry.
"We encourage our contestants to engage in charity work and focus on educational achievements," she explained. "We have actually had several former 'roses' compete in our system."
Ireland Pageants does not impose any height or weight restrictions and welcomes married women and mothers.
"This year we've added a new division - Miss Curves Ireland- a pageant designed for women over 18 who are size 12 and up."
The contest does contain a swimwear section but Jennie Lynch stressed that it is not suitable for under 18s and is a separate category that does not contribute towards the overall titles.
"We also run a 'Natural Beauty' photo contest as an optional round where participants submit a photograph of themselves without makeup to compete for that separate title and crown.
"The proceeds for that also go towards charity," she added.
Contrary to popular opinions, Lynch thinks that pageantry can actually "help young women develop self-esteem and overcome shyness".
"The interview round of the pageant is a particular benefit to the young women who compete in pageants.
"They learn how to handle interviews in high pressure situations, which come in handy during the job search later in life."
Winners receive a variety of prizes including a modelling contract, photo shoots, sponsored clothing, and lots of other prizes depending on sponsors.
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