Alessia Spagnulo had decided to compete in the Rome heats of the Miss Italy competition. But when the day came, she had no one to look after her six-month-old daughter, Chloe, because her partner was at his factory job and she had no one else to call on.
So she decided to take Chloe with her.
As Spagnulo lined up, some of the other contestants offered to hold Chloe while she paraded in her swimsuit. But she said no. She decided to go on stage with her baby strapped to her chest.
“I thought, ‘Why should I hide her?’” she said, according to The Times.
Mothers have been allowed to compete in the Miss Italy pageant since 1994. The rules were changed following a controversy in 1987 when Mirca Viola lost the title due to being a parent.
Spagnulo impressed the judges so much that she was chosen to move on to the next round of the competition.
LISTEN:Are new mothers throwing stones and guilting each other into post-natal depression? We discuss, on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues after the audio.
But afterwards, when she posted online that she was proud to be the first Miss Italy contestant to compete with a baby strapped to her, the abuse began.
“Someone posted, ‘You deserve to die for this,’ while another said it was ‘unnatural’ and another told me to stick to being a housewife,” she said.
Spagnulo was left “really upset” by the comments. It’s not the first time she’s been discriminated against for having a baby, either. She says that her part-time contract as a shop assistant was not renewed once her boss found out she was pregnant.
So why did Spagnulo receive death threats for bringing a baby onto a beauty pageant stage? Could it be because she’s destroyed an illusion?
Beauty pageant contestants are fantasy women – flawless faces and bodies, parading around in swimsuits, always smiling. Bring a baby into it, and the illusion is shattered by thoughts of dirty nappies, sleepless nights and cracked nipples.