How many times have you flipped through the pages of a fashion magazine or watched a runway show and thought to yourself that a certain model was too skinny? Too fat? Too short? Too pretty? Too average? Too tall? Too curvy? Too lanky? Too old? Too young?
If at least one of these thoughts has never crossed your mind, I think it’s safe to say that you are in the minority. At some point, each of these characteristics has caused a stir in the fashion industry. The continuing curvy/straight sized debate was perhaps one of the hottest topics in 2011 and was covered by numerous media outlets.
The modeling and fashion world is a harsh, over-sexualized environment that is not suited for children or teens. When child models are getting exposed to the same realities as the adult models it’s obvious that it is wrong. Somehow, we get to see younger and younger child models nowadays acting all grown up, and quite frankly, I find it very disturbing.
It’s an issue that everyone’s spoke about now and it’s just too much for me to understand. The photographs of a 10 year old child model, Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau that appeared in Vogue Paris December/January 2010/11 issue has caused outrage amongst the parents and public.
A 10 year old girl is wearing lipstick, actually scrap that, a full face of makeup, a low cut dress and heels while lying in a pose that any grown model over her teens would… Is this really just marketing to paedophiles?
Now, do not get me wrong, Thylane boasts quite the modelling CV that most grown models would be proud to have. She walked the catwalk for Jean Paul Gaultier at the age of four and has had several magazine shoots.
Thylane is a beautiful, but what 10 year old child is not? She has piercing eyes, waist length hair and pouting lips which have brought comparasions of her with a youthful Brigitte Bardot (who started her modelling career with Elle at 15 years old).
There was plenty rage about this particular 14 page fashion spread but many more that are in fashion world today.
French Vogue has also featured a truly disturbing photo shoot feauring girls of around 6 years old in heavy makeup, high heels and designer clothes.
These instances are most definately not the first of their kind. The fashion industry is badly publicized for hiring underage models to walk the runway or pose for a photo in adult clothing, assuming adult attire. Somehow, it never caused enough stir to stop the whole thing.
There are boundaries. They are just children.
With child beauty pageants still much on the rise, it’s really no wonder a fashion industry would use little children to sell stuff even if the campaign was received highly negatively. It does always draw a lot of attention, does it not? But is Vogue alone to blame? Someone allowed it. If you see a 10 year old working somewhere other than the entertainment and fashion industry the employer would be seen as a law breaker.
Elle Fanning (younger sister to Dakota Fanning) was chosen to be the face of Marc Jacobs when she was 13 years old, and Hailee Steinfeld chosen to be the face of Miu Miu at 14 years old.
Somehow children are all over fashion and entertainment now. I think of it as the Disney era, they are stars made for kids to look up to but do the parents push them too far?
Child pop stars, fashion icons, beauty pageant contestants, and models are popular. The topic of over sexualization of children has been debated and talked over and over but what has it lead to?
“CHILDREN MUST STAY CHILDREN”, a phrase that has been said so many times and guess what no one gives a toss attantion anymore. Still modelling and singing or dancing is child labour so the only option there is to ban it all together with those beauty pageants (to avoid crazy parents giving their children botox!).
If you have notied the tendency in the fashion world, young models and usually girls in their teen years, full of naivety, facing the harsh realities that they are not prepared for.
The fashion industry is harsh even for 20 something year old models. How can parents let their own children be exposed to such an industry? It’s clear as day to me that child models simply do not belong in fashion.
When I see these Vogue images, the scenario I have playing in my head is just little girls playing dress up – wanting to be just like their mother. Although I am a big fan of controversial advertising this is something we should not want, nor tolerate as the public. For the record, I strongly do not believe that these children are being sexually abused while shooting, I must say at 6 years old, or 10 years old, I would of loved the oppurtunity to get all dolled up, hair, makeup and get to play dress up in front of a camera, it would of been fun, and I’m sure the parents of these children love attending the shoots to see their little super stars shine, however, not in this capacity! In the grand scheme of things, is it not something you should leave to them doing themselves as oposed to doing it for fun. Actually making money of it and exposing them to the cruel natures of the world that could look at these posed photographs in a bad way?
Enter 12 year old Australian super model Maddison Gabriel.
At the age of 12 years old, Maddison was named the official ambassador of the Australian Gold Coast Fashion Week , which, as you can imagine caused quite an uproar within the community. The Australian prime minister at the time came forward to say that catapulting girls as young as 12 into the fashion industry is crazy, and that he was completely oposed to it. There were various statements made in the media about it, to which Maddison’s mother simply couldn’t understand why there was such a problem with it as apparently, Maddison had known since she was 6 (a whole 6 years prior) that all she had wanted to do was model… She was also quoted saying:
“We’re trying to get our teenage daughters to act older. I am so happy that I’ve got a daughter who has got a good head on her shoulders.”
Can someone tell me why in the world we need a 12 or 13 year old girl to act older?
Janice Dickinson, the world’s first supermodel, said it best when she spoke about the personal problems many young children in fashion develop as a result of their fame, and don’t forget the fortune.
“There’s lots of drugs, there’s lots of alcohol, there’s lots of photographers preying on these girls. Thirteen is way too young…”
As if to support Janice’s comments, Martin Robertson, a convicted American sexual predator contacted the Sunday Telegraph the following year from his Texas jail cell and requested photographs and articles about Maddison. When this new broke, Mommy Gabriel criticized the media for reporting controversy in 2007 and thereby alerting Martin Robertson of her daughters existence. She didn’t seem to grasp that Maddison’s modeling career was trulu the underlying cause of Martin Robertson’s interest – it had sexulized Maddison in the predator’s eyes.
In early 2008, one of the worlds most popular photographers, Annie Lebovitz caused a massive stir when she shot 15 year old Miley Cyrus for Vanity Fair. The most controversial image was the provocative photo where Miley appears to be naked and wrapped in a satin sheet. In the accompanying article, written by Bruce Handy, Miley was quoted as saying :
“I think it’s really artsy. It wasn’t in a skanky way, Annie took, like, a beautiful shot, and I thought it was really cool. That’s what she wanted me to do, and you can’t say no to Annie”
However once the media erupted into a frenzy, Miley had changed her mind about the shoot and issued the following statement:
“I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen, and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”
Vanity Fair later realeased a videa and behind the scenes images supporting their assertion that Miley’s parents and/or minders were on set all day. Since the photo was taken digitally, they saw it on the shoot and everyone thought it was a beautiful and natural portrait of Miley.
Personally, I didn’t have a problem with Annie Lebovitz’s shots of Miley, for the most part. Do I think think they were provocative? Yes. Do I think they were sexual? Yes. But I am in the opinion that her parents were aware of what was going on and they had given their approval of the images. If anything, the image of Miley and her father makes me more uneasy because they seem a bit too close for comfort.
What is interesting to me is how Miley’s opinion of the shoot changed once the controversy began swirling. Do you know what is even more interesting? That her parents let it happen and later tried to absolve themselves of the responsibility behind it. There is no doubt that Annie Lebovitz’s provocative images sexualized Miley, so why should they pretend to be appalled when they clearly knew what was going on?
If anything, today Miley could thank Annie Lebovitz for opening up a whole new market for the name Miley Cyrus to be involved in. Think Maxim, FHM, Playboy, all big money makers and exposure for a pop star once they reach legal age, or is it just me who see’s this?
So, what do you think? Should there be an age restriction when it comes to fashion editorials and modeling? Or do you think a parent’s permission (which clearly can be questionable) is all that is required?