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Universal Royalty is a Texas-based company which runs glitz-style beauty pageants for children, and is familar from the reality TV series, Toddlers and Tiaras. When it was announced that Universal Royalty were bringing their glitzy pageantry to Australia, it caused an enormous controversy here, and prompted the Pull the Pin campaign on social media as a bid to stop them.

Those against child beauty pageants say they are exploitative and potentially psychologically damaging. Those in favour say that they are harmless fun, and promote self-esteem. Ironically, the huge media furore ensured that the pageants received many more contestants than they otherwise would have.

The pageant in Melbourne was held at the end of July, and people must have brought their tots far and wide to compete. The winner for the 13-23 months division was Diaz Bowen, the daughter of Queensland NRL star Matt Bowen.

Matt was brought up on an Aboriginal mission on Cape York in the far north of Queensland, played rugby league for his school, and was signed by the North Queensland Cowboys while still a teenager. He plays fullback, and this year broke the record for most games played with the Cowboys.

Matt’s partner, Rudie Doyle, says she entered Diaz in the beauty pageant because she loves playing dress up, and Rudie was looking for something relaxing they could do together in order to bond as mother and daughter. She says that there were no pushy mothers at the pageant, and that Diaz had a lot of fun being on stage.

Diaz is a common Spanish surname that means “son of Diego”. Diego is thought to be a short form of Santiago, meaning “St James”; Saint James the Greater is said to have preached in Iberia, and is the patron saint of Spain. In the Middle Ages, Diego was Latinised as Didacus to make it look as though it was derived from the Greek for “wise, learned”.

Diaz is probably best known to us as the surname of Hollywood actress Cameron Diaz, and I imagine that this was the inspiration behind Matt and Rudie picking this unusual name for their daughter.

(Story and picture from The Townsville Bulletin, August 2 2011).