British model Petra Ecclestone under fire for encouraging 11-year-old daughter to take part in US beauty pageant – as the daughter of Formula 1 billionaire Bernie declares herself ‘a very proud mummy’

  • Lavinia (11) made her debut in the Ideal Miss California & West Coast competition
  • Petra Ecclestone (35) declared herself ‘a very proud mum’ on Instagram
  • One follower suggested that beauty pageants are a ‘paedo’s paradise’

Petra Ecclestone has come under fire for encouraging her eldest daughter to enter a beauty pageant.

Lavinia (11) made her debut in the Ideal Miss California & West Coast competition last Sunday, with the blessing of her mother, daughter of Formula 1 billionaire Bernie Ecclestone.

Wearing a crown, a Disney princess-style ballgown, heels and a ‘Miss West Coast’ sash, Lavinia took a turn on stage at the Downey Theater in Los Angeles in full make-up for cameras and judges posed.

Petra, 35, every inch the spectacular parent, declared herself ‘a very proud mum’.

She wrote to her 77,000 Instagram followers: ‘I am so blessed to be your mother, I will always encourage you to follow your dreams, never judge you and always love you.’

But the judgment came soon, in masses. “It’s insane, she’s just a kid,” one of Petra’s followers replied. Another wrote: ‘Why would you do this to your child?’ Sam Palmer, Lavinia’s stepfather, shot back: ‘She wanted to and we support her. I suppose that’s what parenting is all about.’

Petra Ecclestone (left) with her daughter Lavinia (right)

Petra Ecclestone (left) with her daughter Lavinia (right)

Lavinia (11) made her debut in the Ideal Miss California & West Coast pageant last Sunday with the blessing of her mother, daughter of Formula 1 billionaire Bernie Ecclestone

Lavinia (11) made her debut in the Ideal Miss California & West Coast pageant last Sunday with the blessing of her mother, daughter of Formula 1 billionaire Bernie Ecclestone

One follower even suggested that beauty pageants were a ‘paedo’s paradise’ and warned Petra to keep Lavinia away.

The next stage of the competition will be held in June at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The Ideal Miss pageant costs £371 to enter and aims to ‘celebrate girls by showcasing their strengths and maximizing their potential to prepare them for life ahead’.

But while defenders of the industry insist it instills confidence in young girls, critics argue beauty pageants are exploitative and force the message that good looks are paramount.

Claude Knights, former director of child protection organization Kidscape, says pageants ‘give young girls the signal that it’s okay to value yourself according to a particular, superficial dimension. It’s not about the whole person.’

But Lavinia may want to grow her confidence after enduring a difficult start in life. She was diagnosed, at the age of 20 months, with a speech-delayed learning disability, and went on to become a non-verbal toddler who did not speak until she was almost four years old.

She no longer sees her father, James Stunt – a playboy businessman who will soon stand trial for the second time on a charge of money laundering. When they were married, James forbade Petra from posting herself, or their children, on social media. But since remarrying two years ago, Petra is once again building a public profile.

She is now preparing to launch an online beauty and fashion boutique for teenagers called Crickle Daisy, with Lavinia as the face of the brand.