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Every parent thinks that their child is beautiful, but some are prepared to go to any lengths to prove it. From crystal-covered dummies and frills to hairpieces, make-up and spray tans, the growing trend among ordinary mums and dads to kit out their toddlers in top-to-toe glamour is now worth five billion pounds a year. However, as Channel 5 reveals, blinging up your baby can come at a price.
In Essex, student and single mum Sophie May Dixon has been dressing her daughters, four-year old Princess Bliss Tiana May and one-year-old Precious Bell Ruby Rosina, in gold and glamour since the day they were born. As the girls prance around in crystal-studded shoes, frothy pink dresses and spray tans, their proud mum declares, "My girls, I would say, are like little Barbie babies. If Barbie was real, they would be her children."
However, all the ostentation has attracted criticism, both online and in the street. "There has been so much nastiness," she reveals. "People would, like, comment – nasty, malicious comments – and then, obviously, onto the social networking, it all went onto that. People have said, like, they want to put her [Precious] into a blender... How can someone say that about a harmless little baby?" Sophie's friends have seen the eggs that people have thrown at her windows and noticed the toll that all this has taken on her.
At Fairytale in Birkenhead, Marie Fullerton has been making bespoke children's wear for 25 years, but has never been as busy as she is today. As a result of the huge demand, she now employs her son, daughter and daughter-in-law to help her. It is not just clothes that they are asked to bling up – people have brought in potties, prams and even bath tubs, following a lead from Beyonce and the Kardashians. "Once you go into blinging, you cannot go back," says daughter Hayley. "I bling me phone cases, me make-up bag, everything..." As Marie prepares to expand into a boutique in the high street, she invites a few select customers in for a preview.
One of Marie's customers is 26-year-old beautician Sammy from Doncaster, who started buying frilly dresses and crystals for one-year-old Halle May before she was even born. "I think that every woman thinks of their daughter as a doll," she says. She trawls the internet for specialist boutiques, buying her own little doll designer clothes online months in advance. Despite limited cash, her daughter's wardrobe is worth thousands. Her christening gown alone cost £170.Marie knows that one day Halle May may reject all the bling, but she is determined to enjoy it while she can.
In Portsmouth, unemployed 33-year-old single mum Liane has ploughed everything into entering six-year old Bessie-Sue and four-year-old Scarlett into glitzy US-style beauty pageants. She has high hopes for wilful little Scarlett. "She would probably be a tomboy if I let her," says Liane, confessing that she had been a tomboy herself. "I suppose that's what I'm influencing onto them, that they don't do everything wrong that I did when growing up," she explains. Her hopes of a title win look to be in jeopardy, however, when Scarlett plays up at the Teenie Miss pageant and refuses to go on the catwalk...