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Beauty Contests

The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Young Vic, London

On the peeling, whitewashed wall of the dank Connemara cottage, there's a poster that bears the legend: "May you be half an hour in heaven afore the devil knows you're dead". It's a bit too late for that forlorn hope now, though. The two female characters in The Beauty Queen of Leenane dwell in a hell on earth of their own devising – a perverted symbiosis of mutual torture and resentment. Maureen Folan, the archetypally plain and lonely 40-year-old spinster, is bullied and bossed around by her selfish old mother who plots to thwart her daughter when a last chance of love shows up in the shape of personable local chap on a brief trip home from his navvying job in England.

Pedigree pooches compete to be top dog

Beauty pageants may be relics of a bygone era, but the canine counterpart is more popular than ever, as evidenced by the sellout crowds who packed Madison Square Garden for the first day of the Westminster Kennel Club's annual dog show.

An old chestnut recycled: Miss Earth

It may seem odd to combine a traditional beauty contest with a green agenda, but not to the 62 contestants gathered in a hotel outside Coventry, hoping to win the chance to represent Britain at the world's third-largest beauty pageant

Miss California stripped of tiara after all

A beauty queen whose opposition to gay marriage turned her into an overnight poster girl for America's conservative movement has been stripped of her hard-won tiara, after failing to properly discharge the onerous responsibilities of a reigning Miss California.

More headlines

Emma Cook: Dolly mixture

On the eve of London Fashion Week, Susannah Frankel meets the hot young designer Emma Cook – and we exclusively preview her latest collection. Styling by Gemma Hayward. Photography by Julia Kennedy