Kailia Posey, a former child star on the US reality television program Toddlers & Tiaras, died at the age of 16, according to her family.
Marcy Posey Gatterman, Posey’s mother, shared the news online on Monday. “I’m at a loss for words or ideas,” Gatterman posted beside a photo of her daughter ready for the school prom. “A lovely newborn girl has vanished.”
Posey became famous due to her cheeky grin at the age of five, becoming a widely circulated gif on social media.
Between 2009 and 2013, the TLC network aired Toddlers & Tiaras, which chronicled candidates’ families in a child beauty competition.
According to the entertainment website People, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office in Washington has initiated an official inquiry into her death.
Bianca, Posey’s best friend, paid homage to her on Instagram, calling her “a great, gorgeous girl on the inside and out.”
RIP Kailia Posey 🥺 A true legend for becoming a GIF! pic.twitter.com/AwtYr4ht2K
— 𝔑𝔞𝔩𝔤𝔬𝔫𝔞 (@obiwankenobree) May 4, 2022
“You were such a cheerful and bright spirit. I’m always grateful to you, Kailia, for bringing out the happiest part of me, “she penned. “You reminded me always to be nice, regardless of how difficult it was.”
Posey continued to participate in pageants following her time on the show. She declared earlier this year that she would compete in Miss Washington Teen USA.
Toddlers & Tiaras was taken off the air for several years following criticism about the show’s depiction of toddlers dressed provocatively but was reintroduced in 2016 for a second season.