Alternative beauty pageant subject of abuse

VICKI ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 08/08/2014
Diamond Doll contestants
KIRK HARGREAVES / Fairfax NZ

DOLLED UP: Contestants in the Living Dolls modelling contest, from left, Brittany Foley, Sophia Lee, Melly Melonz, Shauva Thoms, Jackel and Rachel Small.

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Organisers of an alternative beauty pageant in Christchurch fear an online hate campaign may affect the event.

The winner of Saturday's pageant will be crowned Miss Diamond Doll 2014, but a judge of the event, known as Jackel, has been the target of online hatred because of her tattoos.

As a model, Sophia Lee, who is behind Saturday's pageant, found doors in the beauty industry shut as she added tattoos and piercings to her body. Aiming to change the "culture of beauty", she set up her own model agency, Living Dolls, seven years ago.

"My models have big bums, little bums, big boobs, little boobs, tattoos, pink hair, no hair," Lee said.

"I am photographing a woman next month who lost all her hair through chemotherapy. We are going to do a beautiful bald photoshoot.

"Now we are being bullied for telling the world that beauty comes in all sizes."

Living Dolls had recently experienced a "hate campaign" on social media.

"People have labelled us too slutty, too skinny, too fat, too tattooed," Lee said.

Formerly from Christchurch, Jackel is an Australian-based centrefold model and rapper.

Jackel said online commentators had told her to kill herself.

"I have received hate mail and comments on my photos telling me to kill myself," she said.

"I have been asked to leave establishments during dinner because my art has been found offensive.

"I have a memorial piece for the Christchurch earthquake on my arm, memorials to my family.

"To me, being tattooed represents being dedicated to something." The online hate began when Jackel released a music video featuring "scantily clad" women this month. "But it's just girls dancing in underwear and being free. Why can't women be sexy?"

Jackel said she was "almost afraid" to be seen in public.

Lee described Saturday's event, being held at the CPSA Building, as one of New Zealand's first alternative pageants.

"We are celebrating beautiful, confident women who are comfortable in their own skin."

Saturday's pageant had attracted 86 entries, with the 15 finalists ranging in age from 18 to 35. "They're all shapes and sizes," Lee said.

She is worried the hate campaign may mar the event.

"You never know who might want to come along and intimidate our contestants."

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