Pint-Sized Beauty Queen
According to her mother, Ashley Foster, her limelight-loving daughter refused to leave the stage after her routines. Foster decided to keep her out of pageants until she was old enough to respect the rules.
“When she was about 3, she really started to come into her own, she was taking it seriously and she wanted to go,” says Foster, the owner of Vintage Kitchen bakery in Grottoes.
Cherish, however, still loves attention, and has been getting plenty of it this April.
After an application process that involved casting videos and Skype interviews, according to Foster, the Grottoes local was selected for TLC’s show “Toddlers & Tiaras.” The camera crew filmed Cherish at her home for two days in mid-April, before following her to a pageant in Natural Bridge.
In The Limelight
Cherish, whose bedroom is decorated with tiaras and sashes from previous wins, is excited to be filmed doing one of her favorite things: performing.
“My favorite part is getting dressed up and getting on-stage and rocking out,” says Cherish, who has four paper guitars she painted with her mother.
For the Natural Bridge pageant, Cherish says she has prepared a routine in which she plays a girl in the 1940s pining for her husband — Justin Bieber — away at war.
With the help of her mother and ballet teacher, she created a dance number set to the song “Kiss Me Once,” and had a black and white photo of Bieber superimposed on a soldier's body.
To prepare forthe pageant, Cherish will spend hours “dressing- up” a process that involves hair, make-up, costumes, spray-tanning and dental flippers.
According to her mother, a single hair and makeup session can cost around $250, and costumes can reach into the thousands.
“That’s why we learned to do it ourselves,” says Foster, who purchased a spray tanning machine and sews most of Cherish’s costumes to cut back on costs.
Although many people in Cherish’s life are supportive of her hobby, there are times when others have expressed their concern to Foster that the makeup and costumes are inappropriate for children.
She points out that “it’s just for fun and she doesn’t walk around like that everyday.”
In addition to being fun, she also believes that pageants can teach contestants the importance of helping others. According to Foster, a former model and beauty queen, almost all pageants benefit charity. She shared how, during a recent pageant that benefited an animal shelter, her animal-loving daughter collected kitty litter to donate.
“We had to take two hotel carts full of cat litter into the hotel,” she recalls.
Foster hopes Cherish will present the positive aspects of the pageant world when her segment airs on TLC. However, she also knows there can be a dark side to beauty pageants, and says she is determined to keep her daughter down-to-earth. In case she fails, she has an easy solution.
“She’s just a sweet little girl,” she says.
“If pageants turn her ugly, then I’ll take her out. That will be the end of it.”