Protesters on the steps on Parliament House call for an age restriction on child beauty pageants. Picture: Tim Carrafa Herald Sun
Children's beauty pageant star Eden Wood.
THE government has vowed to "keep an eye'' on a US-style Melbourne children's beauty pageant but refused to say if age restrictions would be considered.
Small rallies were held across the nation yesterday against the "toxic'' events, with children waving placards saying "babies not barbies'' and "Say no to ugly beauty pageants for kids''.
The Pull the Pin protest called for an age restriction for contestants, amid concerns from psychologists about sexualising children and links to eating disorders and self-esteem problems.
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The Texas-based Universal Royalty Beauty pageant, for entrants as young as one month, will come to Melbourne in July, with children competing in modelling competitions, beauty quests and doing make-up workshops.
Shadow Attorney-General Martin Pakula told the rally there was no place for the "creepy'' events in Victoria.
"They are not some innocent baby bonnet parade, they are something a bit more insidious than that,'' said Mr Pakula, who has a five-year-old daughter.
Liberal member for Hastings Neale Burgess said it was "common sense and most of the community agree with it, that children deserve to be children and it's our job to make sure that they are allowed to do that''.
Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development Wendy Lovell told the Herald Sun that Labor had eleven years to ban pageants and failed to.
She would not enter a child in a pageant but said parents should be trusted to make the "right decision''.
"I have asked my department to keep a close eye on this pageant and to advise me of any issues that arise.''
The company's pageants feature on TV show Toddlers and Tiaras in the US and organisers say the event will boost confidence and will be a "positive, fun-filled atmosphere''.
But the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists yesterday slammed that statement as "naive'', saying mental health and developmental consequences were "significant''.