(CBS NEWS) — Kailia Posey, a 16-year-old pageant queen who appeared on TLC’s “Toddlers & Tiaras” when she was 5 years old, has died, her mother announced on Facebook.
“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,” Marcy Posey Gatterman posted on Tuesday, sharing a photo of her daughter in a gown. Her cause of death is still unknown.
Posey appeared on “Toddlers & Tiaras,” which gave a behind-the-scenes look at the world of children’s pageants, at least twice. In a 2016 episode of the show, Kailia’s mom said she started doing pageants when she was three years old. Her talent was being a contortionist.
During a 2012 episode of the show, Kailia, then 5, made a grinning face that went viral as a meme, making her face recognizable even outside of the “Toddlers & Tiaras” world.
Posey recently competed in the Miss Teen Washington pageant. Her bio on the pageant website states she attended Lynden High School, and wanted to study aviation in college to become a commercial pilot. She also made her school’s Dean’s List for the having excellent grades during the 2020-2021 school year.
The teen was active on Instagram and her recent posts are now flooded with messages from friends and supporters, mourning her loss.
Her mom and stepfather have also posted several tributes to her on Facebook since her death, including a photo of her edited to look like an angel. On Saturday, her stepfather, Steven Gatterman, posted that it was her prom night.
On April 19, he posted a message for her 16th birthday, writing: “Happy Sweet 16 Kailia! You are beautiful inside and out. Your light shines bright everywhere you go. Have the best day!”
CBS News has reached out to Posey’s parents and is awaiting response.