A pageant mother accused of 'doping' her child after giving her high-sugar snacks and caffeinated drinks before a show has defended her actions. June Shannon, from McIntyre, Georgia, sparked widespread criticism following an appearance on Toddlers and Tiaras last month with six-year-old daughter Alana Thompson. The self-proclaimed 'Coupon Queen' had described how she boosted the youngster's energy ahead of performances with Pixy Stix - tubes of powdered sugar often known as 'pageant crack' - and 'Go-Go- Juice', a mixture of Red Bull and Mountain Dew, according to Good Morning America.
Today, she responded to the backlash in an interview with the show.Explaining that a typical event can be exhausting for the children involved, she continued: 'A pageant day can last from 7 in the morning to 6,7,8,9, 10 at night, so performing and getting a kid up that early and lasting all day without a rest, you have to energize their body.'
Ms Shannon also added that she was not alone in the practice.
'Everybody does it,' she said. 'There are normal people who give their kids this, so why is it such a big issue with us pageant moms that do it all weekend to keep our kids energized and awake?'
Indeed, producers filming a Nightline special on the subject were witness to one such pageant in New York where they saw children drinking caffeinated soda and candy from as early as 7am, while a similar event in Austin, Texas, saw many contestants eating Pixy Stix.But child health experts have voiced their concern about the so-called 'Go-Go Juice', given that a single can of Mountain Dew or Red Bull contains as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.
A report last year from the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that children who have too much caffeine are at raised risk of neurological and cardiovascular problems. Its authors warned: 'Energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents. In general, caffeine-containing beverages, including soda, should be avoided.'
The Toddlers and Tiaras episode featuring Alana saw Ms Shannon tell how she created her 'Go-Go Juice' mixture after 15 bags of Pixy Stix failed to boost the youngster's energy. Viewers were outraged as she explained the concept of 'special juice', telling producers: 'A lot of pageant moms and people know what the "special juice" is - everybody has their different concoctions...A lot of moms say, "Oh, well you’re doping up your child." Well hey, no I'm not. I’m not hurting her.' Though no specific 'special juice' recipes are detailed in the episode, insiders speculate that some mothers' blends may even contain alcohol.
Ms Shannon was filmed instructing Alana to take 'two big gulps' from an unlabelled bottle. Within seconds the change was apparent and the pageant hopeful was seen rapidly swinging her arms over her head and spinning around on the floor, exclaiming: 'My go-go juice is kicking in right now!'
Describing how the drink made her feel, she said: 'Go-go juice makes me laughy, and play-ey, and makes me feel like I want to pull my mommy's hair.'
It seems Alana is already a spirited child though. She has a bizarre speaking manner that is at once precocious and incoherent.She tells cameras that she wants to win pageants to make money because 'a dollar makes me holler, honey boo boo!' But she is not entirely enthusiastic about the experience. She continues: 'Beauty is so boring, I don't want to do it.'
Ms Shannon's enthusiasm is more than evident though. As her daughter takes to the stage, she is filmed yelling encouragement, and instructing dance moves. When she is not accompanying her daughter on the pageant circuit, Ms Shannon says she spends her time collecting money-saving coupons and stockpiling hundreds of household products - a pursuit her daughter claims she wants to follow. Footage taken inside the family home reveals rooms stocked with hundreds of items ranging from toilet paper to rolls of aluminium foil.
"A dolla make me holla--Honey Boo-Boo Child," anyone? Now, pageant mommy June Shannon is under public scrutiny for allowing her daughter to partake in some activities that rubbed viewers the wrong way.
Specifically, allowing Alana to drink a concoction of caffeine-overload after another sugar-rush trick began to fail. Shannon makes Alana a self-described "Go-Go Juice" that is one part Mountain Dew and one part Red Bull. One can of each of the two drinks combined contains about the same amount of caffeine as two cups of coffee.
Alana, loves it however: "My special juice is going to help me win," Alana says in one of the show's episodes. "My Go-Go Juice is kicking in right now." As reported by ABC News, "Shannon turned to Go-Go Juice after finding that the two bags of Pixy Stixs, the powdered candy in a wrapper that resembles a drinking straw, and is known in the pageant world as 'pageant crack,' she was feeding Alana were not enough to keep her alert all day during pageant competitions.