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8.07.2011

SHOULD A 10 YEAR OLD MODEL FOR VOGUE?



French Vogue ignited controversy this year when they featured a spread of Thylane Loubry Blondeau. 

Donning Louboutins and draped over a fur rug, the young model doesn't really emulate the look of your average 10 year old girl. Experts are concerned the images are encouraging young girls to grow up too fast and that they promote the sexualisation of children. Fleur Dorrell of the Mothers' Union claimed the shots were 'blurring all thoughts of beauty' and that they were 'physically disturbing'.

But have we not seen this before? Marc Jacobs has used both Dakota and Elle Fanning in his campaigns and we regularly see 14 year old models strutting down runways as if it were the norm. What we must consider is how much girls in their pre-teens actually aspire to be like these models.

How many 10 year old girls read Vogue?

Throughout the Nineties and Noughties the role models available to girls were The Spice Girls, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. All of these women wore highly provocative outfits on stage and girls would unwittingly sing along to their suggestive lyrics. These days we have children idolising Miley Cyrus, seen on stage dancing around a pole and wearing revealing wet look costumes. Little girls do not imitate other little girls, they respond to the way their mother's dress and they adore younger celebrities. They are the sole explanation of Justin Bieber's success and how Cher Lloyd's 'Swagger Jagger' came to be Number 1. Very few, if not none at all, of these girls would recognise the name Thylane Blondeau. Shari Miles-Cohen of the American Psychological Association says, "We want [young girls] to be able to develop physically, emotionally, psychologically and socially at appropriate rates for their age". Should we not focus more of our concerns on the women they idolise?

The concept for the shoot was that Thylane, daughter of French presenter Veronika Loubry and footballer Patrick Blondeau, was dressing up in her mother's clothes. An act like this is highly common and never usually frowned upon. When dressing up, girls are aware that they are playing a 'game' and are not supposed to dress in such a way every day. By using this concept in a shoot, Vogue has strengthened this message.

It is impossible to deny women take influence from fashion magazines. However they do not mirror the extreme looks featured. The styling on fashion shoots is intended to be heavy in order to strongly sell a trend. The idea of this is to influence readers to incorporate aspects of the trend into their daily attire, not to tell women precisely how they should look. When speaking about the role and purpose of ELLE UK, Jennifer Dickinson, the magazine's acting editor said, ''What we're really aiming to do is to inspire you to interpret [trends] in your own way''. The same applies to younger girls. Chances are rare that we are about to start seeing Thylane clones.

Despite the above factors, Vogue has been heavily condemned for the decision to use the model. Labour MP Helen Goodman claimed 'They have descended into the gutter by doing this' and an inquiry into the sexualisation of children is to be held by Prime Minister David Cameron this October.

The sexualisation of young girls is inquestionably wrong, but perhaps we should take a look at the real sources of the problem.



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