September 21, 2010

Welsh girl sparks controversy after winning US beauty pageant

Anysha Panesar beat 30 rivals to win the contest while she was on holiday in Florida.

But the 16-year-old’s victory left some contestants and their parents furious at the snub to home-grown girls.
‘Some people did say I shouldn’t have won because I’m British,’ said Anysha. ‘But I think they just said it because they didn’t win.’
Contest founder Michael Galanes, whose Little Miss Perfect toddlers’ pageant is a TV hit in the States, said: ‘Yes, her win caused a bit of a stir because she is, of course, British.

‘But that is perfectly within the rules of the competition and those people are just naysayers.
One of the judges told me they liked Anysha because she was a breath of fresh air. She has natural beauty but she isn’t afraid to be a bit wild.’

Anysha, of Llangan in the Vale of Glamorgan, said she was stunned to win the competition, with prizes including $2,000 (£1,200) cash and an $18,000 (£11,500) scholarship to train as a TV broadcaster.

She added: ‘I think I was a bit different. The pageant is like no other in that there are no rules for what you wear. ‘It’s more like [reality TV show] America’s Next Top Model. One year, a girl even carried a panther cub down the runway.
‘I didn’t think I would win because I’m British so, when it got to me and one other person, I thought I was going to come second. Then they announced the first runner-up and I began walking forward before I realised it wasn’t my name.’
The A-level pupil, who studies at a private school once attended by singer Charlotte Church, said her beauty queen career began when she won a catwalk competition at a Clothes Show exhibition in Birmingham.
‘That got me through to the finals of my very first pageant,’ she added. ‘It just somehow grew from there and I got addicted to them.’

Anysha is now in talks to feature in a TV show about her year as America’s Perfect Teen.

Her mother, Caroline, 41, said: ‘We’re so proud. She’s such a talented girl and we couldn’t be more supportive of what she’s doing.’

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