Sparks started flying months after magazine readers saw 10-year-old Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau donning couture clothing, sultry makeup, and stilettos looking more like an adult than a preteen.
French Vogue’s December/January issue featuring Blondeau stirred up debates over the “sexualization of young girls,” reported ABC News in an article titled “10-year-old model’s grown up look: High fashion or high risk?” written by Katie Moisse on Aug. 4.
Models, actors and actresses seem to be picked up at younger ages, and the trend begs the question: how young is too young? The controversy is not new, and the claims continue to stay the same. According to the American Psychological Association, the sexualization of girls causes negative effects cognitively, emotionally, mentally and physically among girls and young women.
The loyal readers of French Vogue may have understood the vision behind the photo shoot, but many audience members outside of France are left questioning the company’s motives. Publications throughout the United States took a stand on the matter with headlines reading “10-year-old Vogue Model: Pretty or pretty weird?” in the L.A. Times, “Thylane Loubry Blondeau photos: 10-year-olds model’s sultry Vogue spread sparks controversy” in the New York Daily News, and “Thylane Loubry Blondeau, 10-year-old model, ignites debate over sexualization of young girls” in the Huffington Post.
CNN took its stand in an article titled “Media firestorm surrounds 10-year-old’s suggestive fashion shoot” published Friday reporting that “creepy” and “weird” are the trending words audience members used after viewing the photos. According to CNN, Blondeau was not the only child featured in the Vogue Paris spread.
The question, however, is not whether preteens and tweens should be used in modeling; rather, it is whether or not they should appear in such mature content. It is well-known that Kate Moss, Brook Shields, Tyra Banks, and Giselle Bundchen got their start early in life, but none were photographed in such ways to imply sexualization of young girls.
What one might consider is also the cultural context in which the magazine is published. European Vogue shoots are known to be much different than its U.S. counterpart, but does that make it OK for editors to push the boundaries of sexuality by displaying girls and boys in such mature situations? There is an obvious ethical dilemma, but how an editor will answer the question depends on where he or she is from.
Susan Denley and Amy Hubbard make it quite clear in their blog published by the L.A. Times that, “It’s unlikely that then-Vogue Paris editor Corinne Roitfeld (since replaced by Emmanuelle Alt) would think this is porn, but it is very likely she and guest editor fashion designer Tom Ford wanted to be provocative…and succeeded.”
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