Little Boys Enter Beauty Pageants Against Girls and WIN


Brothers Jude and Jake are nine and five. They ride bikes, go skateboarding, run with their dad, play football and come home covered in mud. But they have another hobby too, one that’s currently shared by barely a dozen other boys in Britain. Jude and Jake enter beauty pageants.

They usually win too. At home the shelves are stacked with heavy crowns covered in fake jewels, a trophy for Mr Personality and sashes for Mr Photogenic and Ultimate World Supreme King.

In just one year they’ve won 20 crowns, four trophies and 65 sashes. Parents Sara and Graham Collins-Godden have to put them away in boxes to make space in their three-bedroom home in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex.

Sara, 44, a former child performer and model who works in a community centre, says the secret of the boys’ success is their natural charm.

“They both genuinely love being on the stage strutting their stuff with everyone cheering and clapping,” she says.

“A lot of parents think it’s a bad thing. It might turn their son gay or whatever. But if being exposed to pageants or drama or dance or anything makes them into a fulfilled, happy adult, that’s fantastic. Whether they’re straight, gay, bisexual, whatever, I couldn’t care less as long as they’re happy.”

Jude says most of his school friends were “psyched” – excited –when he told them about the pageants, though a few still think it’s too girly.

The brothers currently compete in the same events as girls. There are just five mainstream pageants that admit boys and only five to 10 currently enter.

For the moment boys-only events don’t exist – but mum Sara is launching her own in May.

“Unlike the girls, it’s not all about lip-gloss and fake lashes. she says. “Boys in a pageant don’t generally wear make-up or have false hairpieces, spray-tans or anything. They generally have a bit of powder and mascara to make them look less washed-out under bright lights.

“It’s their eyes and smiles that win it for them. But they could be painting their fingernails for all I care. As long as they’re happy.”

The boys wear mini-tuxedos with waistcoats and bow-ties in the formal wear round and for fancy dress Jake has a pirate outfit and Jude is St George. Both know how to sashay down the stage before stopping for a pose. Sara says: “They don’t have any routines. They get out there and wing it. They blow kisses and wink. But it’s all down to them. Jake, in particular, absolutely loves it. He’s such a diva and he’s only five years old!”

It’s by no means a cheap hobby. Sara and Graham, 46, a tennis coach, pay £3,000 a year for entry fees and costumes as well as ferrying their kids to contests all over the country. She says: “We’re by no means well off. But if this is what the kids want to do, we’ll muster through.”

The boys got interested after seeing sister Ella, 13, take part. Pageants gave her a boost after she had been badly bullied. “The moment she walked on to the catwalk she lit up the room,” recalls Sara. “Her eyes were sparkling and her smile was beaming. She was genuinely happy for the first time in years. I looked at the boys and Jude had tears in his eyes. He said, ‘Ella’s happy again’.

“That was it for me – I was completely sold. After that both he and Jake wanted to give it a go, too.”

She knows there may be a time when her sons don’t want to take part. But they have raised £1,500 for charity and both are signed up to a talent agency. Jake has modelled for a children’s magazine and Jude has auditioned for two feature films.

So does their dad like their hobby? “It makes me really proud,” says Graham. “They surprise me with how much confidence they have. I can tell they’re going to be confident for the rest of their lives. If the boys want to do pageants it’s up to them.”

Sara’s own pageant next month will be called Boys to Men. She says: “It will be about boys being boys,” she says. “It will not be a beauty contest – it’s all about their personality and self confidence.”