News and Analysis

Former ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ Contestant Kailia Posey Dead At 16, Her Mom Shares
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“Toddlers and Tiaras” contestant Kailia Posey has died at the age of 16, her family announced Monday. 

The teen’s mother, Marcy Posey Gatterman, shared a photo of Kailia on Facebook on Monday confirming her death.

“I don’t have words or any thoughts,” she wrote in the post. “A beautiful baby girl is gone. Please give us privacy as we mourn the loss of Kailia. My baby forever.”

She did not elaborate on the cause of death for her daughter.

“Toddlers and Tiaras” aired on TLC for seven seasons and ended in 2013. The series followed real-life pageant contestants as their very young children participated in the beauty pageant circuit. Fans of  the series are no doubt familiar with Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, who found fame on the show and translated it into a spinoff series and reality show career.  

Posey didn’t stop her career when she was a child, either. According to Fox News, the teen was still involved in pageants leading up until her death. She most recently competed in the Miss Washington Teen USA pageant in February. She was also an actress.

“I’m going to be competing in Miss Washington teen USA in February and I am so excited!” Posey shared on Instagram.

Posey followed up later with photos of herself and included the caption, “One word. Thankful.”

The teen appeared in the episode of “Toddlers & Tiaras” called “California Tropic Arizona” when she was 5. She competed in that pageant against two other girls who were featured on the show in 2012, according to Deadline.

This was Posey’s only foray into the TLC reality series. However, she made an impression thanks to a cute video clip of her scrunching up her neck and smiling, which became a popular GIF on the internet. It’s called “grinning girl” and still circulates now.  

The teen had also launched an acting career, appearing in the 2019 horror film “Eli” along with Lily Taylor and Sadie Sink.

Her mother had just posted photos of Posey attending the prom last weekend with friends. 

The show “Toddlers & Tiaras” inspired a lot of backlash from critics for objectifying young girls and having them dress in very provocative ways. 

In an August 2015 custody hearing for a child featured on the show, a court-appointed psychologist said, “Children adorned with pageantry identities are not ‘playing’ or ‘pretending.’ Instead, they are trained to closely resemble their adult counterparts.”

One “Toddlers & Tiaras” mom got chastised for padding her daughter’s chest to look more like Dolly Parton. Another caught heat for having her child mime smoking fake cigarettes on stage.