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Author Topic: JonBenet Ramsey would have turned 21.  (Read 547 times)

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Offline weary1969

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JonBenet Ramsey would have turned 21.
« on: August 19, 2011, 12:40:11 PM »
This month, JonBenet Ramsey would have turned 21. And in the wake of her murder, children's pageants not only have survived — they've exploded into a $5 billion business. Here's why.

By Skip Hollandsworth

It's 6:30 on a Saturday morning at the Southfork Hotel in Plano, TX, just north of Dallas, and in Room 326, 6-year-old Eden Wood is perched on a stool, quietly staring at herself in a lighted mirror, waiting for the transformation to begin. First, a stylist applies layers of foundation, blush, eye shadow, mascara, lipliner, and hot-pink lipstick. Then she turns to Eden's hair — except it's not Eden's hair. A long blond fall, full of curly ringlets, is attached to the back of the little girl's head, and using a brush and curling iron, the stylist teases all the hair, real and synthetic, until it looks as if it's going to float away. Finally, she runs a cloth over Eden's already manicured fingernails and adds a touch of bronzer to her spray-tanned arms and legs.

"OK, sweet girl, let's get after it," declares Eden's mother, Mickie, a congenial, determined-looking 46-year-old who's wearing glasses with hot-pink frames and a matching pink coat over a black pantsuit. Eden jumps off the stool and steps into a $3,000 hand-sewn bubble gum–pink dress covered with sequins and edged with lace that billows out, tutu-like, just below her waist.

Mickie helps her put on white ankle socks and unblemished white patent leather Mary Janes. Finally, she snaps faux diamond earrings onto Eden's ears and fastens a glittery rhinestone necklace around her neck. After an hour and 30 minutes, her daughter has become part Barbie, part Madame Alexander doll, and part Las Vegas showgirl.

Eden, who's from Taylor, AR, is about to participate with 90 or more other girls in a beauty pageant put on by Texas-based Universal Royalty Beauty Pageant, one of the country's best-known children's beauty pageant organizers. All around the conference room and adjoining hallways that serve as the pre-contest prep area, little girls do the pageant version of suiting up. Some are having fake eyelashes applied; others sit quietly as their parents insert dental prosthetics called "flippers" into their mouths to cover the gaps where baby teeth have fallen out. A few are already on the stage, doing one final run-through of the formal "beauty walks" that they will later perform, acts that require the girls to cross one foot over the other and slowly pivot in a semicircle while keeping their shoulders back and their eyes locked on the judges.

"Remember, honey, step, then turn, then give those judges a big wink," one mother says encouragingly, holding a brush in one hand and a mirror in the other. "Your job is to make them love you."

JonBenet Ramsey, who would have turned 21 this month had she not been brutally murdered, remains the most famous pageant girl in the world. All one has to do is say her name and the images come flooding back — not those from photos of her home in Boulder, CO, where she was found in the basement on December 26, 1996, but those of the 6-year-old pixie strutting across pageant stages, looking like a baby Marilyn Monroe with makeup more suited to a woman several times her age.

Rayanna DeMatteo, a 22-year-old student at Samford University in Birmingham, AL, regularly competed at events with JonBenet. "I remember playing hide‑and‑seek with her," she says. "We used to jump into the hotel pools together after competition." DeMatteo remembers that increasingly, as she grew older, being part of the pageant world was something she wanted to hide. "I don't tell people my secret about what I did back in the day," she says. "I don't want people to know that I was a pageant girl."

Today you're the dog, tomorrow you're the hydrant - so be good to others - it comes back!"


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