Everyone knows that between them Milthields and BromeGroove schools have the prettiest mums in Essex, but few people outside of Wivenhoe understand the bitter rivalry between the two sets of parents. This is, of course, down to the Prettiest Parent Pageant that’s held every year to decide which school has the most gorgeous grown ups.
Now in its 37th year, the competition is arguably at its fiercest, with mums from both establishments going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that 2015 brings victory to their school.
Back in the early years of the competition it was seen as just a bit of harmless fun, but over time it has grown to be the cause of many a friendship to fracture and even lead to a murder in 1982.
While BromeGroove lead the way in the seventies and eighties, the turn of the millennium has been dominated by Milthields, which has won 13 of the last 14 competitions.
Milthields headmistress Janine Peacock told BBC Springwatch: “We regard the beauty pageant as a pivotal part of the school year and it’s important for the children to realise that in this day and age it is vital to be beautiful, especially the girls. For this reason we have completely ditched maths for girls and have replaced it with makeup studies. If you’re not beautiful you might just as well give up. No one likes an ugly person no matter how clever they are.”
A similar message is echoed by BromeGroove’s head of beauty Layler Leboit, who told John Craven's Newsround: “Over the last couple of years our Ofsted report has pointed to failings to take this competition seriously and so this year we’ve resorted to some serious action. Any child with an ugly mother has been expelled from the school and we’ve sold off the playground in order to provide free liposuction to some of our larger ladies. This year will be our year.”
While detractors have been quick to point out that a beauty competition is outdated and retrograde in the 21st Century, Wivenhoe Mayor Dame Dannii Minogue has jumped to the pageant’s defence pointing out: “There are always going to be naysayers that suggest this important cultural event is somehow wrong. To them I’d say it’s not. Men are invited to come along and enjoy looking at the lovely ladies, meaning that it is in no way sexist, elitist or exclusive. I believe this gives our children an ideal to try to achieve with their otherwise pitiful lives. If they work hard and are lucky, girls can grow up to be beautiful while boys will grow to understand the importance of looking at the pretty ones and shunning the uglies. Where’s the problem?”