London - Walking down the catwalk in a skin-tight pink swimsuit, Ocean Orrey looked every inch the experienced beauty queen. Her long flowing blonde tresses, perfect pout and thick make-up would have made Katie Price proud as she sashayed in front of the audience.

Almost the only hint that she was a child of four was the cuddly toy she clasped in one hand. No wonder there has been uproar this week over photographs showing her participation in Miss Glitz Sparkle - a US-style beauty pageant held in Lincoln.

Yet her mother Bianca, 26, insists such events are not about the exploitation of young girls, but their empowerment. “Looks are important,” she says. “Anything that makes you more confident is a good thing. Ocean felt like a little diva. She felt good about herself.”

How tragic that any mother would think her four-year-old daughter dolled up and parading as a beauty queen is a path to any kind of fulfilment.

Every piece or research shows that the increasing sexualisation of young girls leads to terrible outcomes - teen pregnancies, low self-esteem, a vulnerability to predatory and abusive men.

Yet while Ocean’s mother concedes there is too much pressure on young girls today, her view is if you can’t beat them, join them. How tragic. Sadder still is the view of her father, Lee, who says he doesn’t mind his little girl dressing so provocatively.

Fathers are important to daughters. We take our lead from them about the way we expect boys and men to treat us. And any father who encourages a girl to believe her beauty comes from a bottle of fake tan is doing her a great disservice.

Of course, there is enormous pressure on girls to look attractive, but happiness comes from knowing that you are loved and cherished and that beauty is never skin deep.

To find evidence of that you need only switch channels from the trash TV shows like Next Top Model or Toddlers & Tiaras to the Paralympics.

Day after day, we have witnessed young women shining with beauty and grace. Josie Pearson, who broke her neck in a car accident in 2003 and won gold smashing the women’s discuss world record. Ellie Simmonds, our champion swimmer poster girl, going for her third gold. Sarah Storey, a gorgeous cyclist who was born with a partly deformed hand yet has won a record-breaking 11 gold medals during her career.

The kind of beauty paraded in pageants is shortlived. Unless a girl’s inner glow matters more to her than her fake tan, she will always struggle to be confident about her place in the world. And it’s up to their parents to teach them that. - Daily Mail