Elliemay Clare, an eight year old Romany Gypsy girl from Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, is taking the teenie beauty pageant world by storm. Elliemay attends Westfield school and has been competing in both regional and national pageants for the last 6 months. She has already won 14 crowns and even more medals.
Inspired by seeing the American competitions on TV, and the popular TLC program Toddlers and Tiaras that helped launch Honey Boo Boo, Elliemay started to badger her mum Ivy to find some competitions in the UK for her to join. She entered her first in Watford, Herts last summer.
Having always been confident and lively, Elliemay enjoys making up her own dances to her favourite songs and doing her own make-up. She spends hours at home watching pop star videos and perfecting her routines for each show. Many parents and contestants assume she is professionally coached as she's such a natural, but it's all her own design.
She has always loved dressing up and putting on dances but is in her element now with the beautiful glitzy bling outfits, spray tans, her hair being done by hairdressers, and professional makeup.
It's costing hundreds of pounds to provide her with different dresses, travel to contests etc, but mum Ivy thinks its money well spent as Elliemay is so happy. Her self-confidence and poise in front of an audience has grown immeasurably.
Her first cousin WBO champion boxer Billy Joe Saunders has been really encouraging and supportive he bought her the red dress in the photo above.
There's a lot of fierce competition often in the world of teenie pageants, often with 50-70 girls competing. Sometimes, the other parents have sometimes been hostile and can be very cliquey identifying Elliemay as being a Gypsy. However mum Ivy says: "She just rises above it and ignores them because my girl is just so happy and I’m so proud of her" and adds that from day one she has just loved it.
Chair of Gypsy and Traveller Empowerment Hertfordshire Josie O'Driscoll says: “All of our children should be able to achieve their potential whatever their ethnic or cultural background.
“We are all too aware of racism, barriers and issues that many of our youth face in their everyday lives. We are very proud of our gifted and talented Gypsy and Traveller children in Hertfordshire and we actively promote their achievements in any way we can to enable them to go forward in their chosen paths."