Despite Sasha Bennington only being 12 years old, her mother is happy for her to pose in a bikini alongside 19-year-olds
Originally published 13 January 2009;
Schoolgirl Sasha Bennington is to compete against 19 year olds in a beauty contest, and her mum’s delighted!
'People have criticised us for posting pictures of Sasha on the internet, saying they could be stolen by paedophiles, but we don’t use the bikini ones'
It’s a misconception her mother, Jayne Harris, is more than happy to encourage, although Sasha is still only 12. Jayne sparked outrage after she appeared in Closer a year ago saying she wanted Sasha to be the next Jordan.
Posing provocatively in a bikini, Sasha Bennington could easily be mistaken for an 18 year old.
Since then, Jayne’s commissioned sexy bikini photos for her daughter to further her modelling career. They have helped Sasha win a place in a beauty contest, where she’ll compete against teenagers up to the age of 19. “It’s only the same as being on the beach,” says Jayne naively.
“People have criticised us for posting pictures of Sasha on the internet, saying they could be stolen by paedophiles, but we don’t use the bikini ones. Anyway, I can’t wrap her up in cotton wool. You’re never going to be able to protect kids totally. "
“I realise prepubescent girls are probably more attractive to paedophiles,” Jayne adds.
“But a kid in the media will get attention whatever she’s wearing.” Sasha will be the youngest contestant ever to reach the British finals of the Miss Teen World beauty competition, and Jayne is thrilled. Sasha’s precocious looks are enhanced with sexy outfits, plus regular trips to beauty salons for hair colouring, fake tans and teeth-whitening treatments, costing the family £300 a month.
Jayne even let her have her navel pierced when she was 11 – it’s not legal until 16 – though she didn’t accompany her on the trip as she’s scared of needles. “Sasha wants to do these things,” insists Jayne, 32, who manages her daughter’s career full-time.
“She’s desperate to be a model, and I’m going to help her all I can.”
Right now, the family is focused on the finals of Miss Teen World, due to take place in Liverpool in March. Sasha is on a strict diet, cutting out crisps and chocolate. For the contest, she will model day and eveningwear and perform a cheerleading routine.
“It’s such an honour,” says Jayne, with no trace of irony.
“Sasha’s competing against much older girls, who’ve got boobs and a different look. “I know some people may say that Sasha could compete when she’s older. But she could die tomorrow and miss out on all this. I believe we have to grab our opportunities when we can.”
Jayne’s partner Martyn, 36, whose property business has crashed in the credit crunch, supports Sasha’s quest for stardom – along with her nine-year-old brother Max, who also competes in beauty pageants.
Jayne won’t accept that Sasha’s lifestyle is inappropriate.
“People who criticise us are just jealous of her gorgeous looks,” she says.
Sasha says: “It makes me feel good when everyone’s eyes are on me. And I really enjoy doing photo shoots.”