The Heartbreaking Death Of Toddlers And Tiaras Star Kailia Posey

Sharing the death of any public figure is tragic, yet the tragedy always seems to be amplified when that death is of someone who did not reach adulthood. Announcing to the public on Facebook in early May, mother Marcy Posey Gatterman shares, "I don't have words or any thoughts. A beautiful baby girl is gone. Please give us privacy as we mourn the loss of Kailia. My baby forever."

That baby is Kailia Posey, pageant beauty and childhood star on "Toddlers and Tiaras." People confirms the report of this death, noting that the teen was 16 years old at the time of her passing. Neither Gatterman nor TLC has followed up with details on cause of death. 

Posey's final posting was from a newly-created Instagram account and shared on April 23rd. The post shows the smiling teen on what appears to be a colorfully lit staircase from a cruise as she poses in a stunning red two-piece skirt and top with ruffled sleeves. The caption reads, "None of your concern" and the teen appears happy. She tags her photographer and hashtags #cambriescourt in a nod to her continued pageant presence.

Pageants were clearly a lifelong pursuit and hobby for this talented teen. It was at a childhood pageant that she first rose to widespread fame as she appeared on a single episode of the famed "Toddlers and Tiaras" in 2012 at the age of 5 in the California Tropic Arizona pageant, via IMDb. Her smile made her become one of the more recognizable faces of the show.

The grinning girl, the innocent girl

Many internet readers are familiar with Posey without even realizing it. A gif from her single episode of "Toddlers and Tiaras" has become a widespread meme of happiness often called "the grinning girl" or "the innocent girl." Shown in a bold purple collared shirt with loose wavy brown hair, the exuberant grin and side-eye of the image holds almost universal appeal even with a backdrop full of tiaras and pageant trophies. In addition to the joy, there is a solid dose of mischief in that look as well.

Informatique Mania lists the image as one of the most famous gifs in internet history on their 2020 list, implying that while the show had controversy, this smile could easily soothe any upsets along the way.

While "Toddlers and Tiaras" was a show that sometimes had controversy (think Honey Boo Boo and Mama June), Posey's simple motivation captured hearts. Sharing in a sneak peak of the show on Today, the tot explained why she wanted loved pageantry contests, "Um, winning. Cause I like to win moneeey!" And in true childlike fashion, she had grand plans for those earnings as well. "Yeah, I'll buy candy," responded the kid with exaggerated and exuberant motions.

It seems like over her short career, Posey may have succeed in earning a lot of cash ... or candy at least. Continuing as she grew, the beauty queen was featured again on TLC in a 2016 update. She also posted wins and participation in different pageants across social media, such as Miss Teen Lynden, WA 2022

A pageant queen to remember

While there is no confirmation as to cause of death, BNO News reports speculation and rumors of a Las Vegas car accident. Family, friends, and fans are understandably devastated. Commenting on mother Gatterman's post, commenters shared their condolences, with one saying, "I'm so sorry. My heart hurts for you and your family. Kailia was such a bright light, now shining in heaven. Sending you lots of love right now and praying for you," and "Oh, Marcy. I'm so sorry. I'm just speechless. I enjoyed following her successes. I will be praying so hard for your family." 

Posey's accomplishments include portraying the character Agnes in the 2019 Netflix thriller Eli (via IMDb) and academic success, according to Posey's bio on the 2022 Miss Washington teen pageant which shares her feature on the Dean's List for the 2020/2021. Concludes the bio, "Kailia hopes to show members of her generation that they can positively impact the world if they are patient and work hard." 

Tagged in her last official post is friend Biancha, who wrote in her own tribute, "From the first day I met you I knew we were going to be best friends. You were such a bright and happy soul. I'm so thankful for you Kailia, you truly brought out the happiest side of me. You reminded me to always be kind no matter how hard it was. Taught me my first routine the night before the pageant. Rehearsed your lines before Ms. Teen Washington." Concludes Bianca's post, "You are in my prayers. I will miss you forever and always. Rest in paradise Kailia Posey."

It can be certain that Posey made an impact, and her winning and shareable smile definitely adds a positive legacy.