10-Year-Old Model Sparks Controversy With Vogue 'Sexy' Photoshoot
August 5, 2011 /Photography News/ Sexualised photographs of 10-year-old Thylane Loubry Blondeau --daughter of actress and television presenter Veronika Loubry, and the former French international football player Patrick Blondeau-- have sparked outrage among campaigners, who think that a child so young should not be displaying the sexual allure of someone twice her age.
Wearing makeup, high heels and haute couture, Blondeau's expressions are oddly adult -- a product, perhaps, of living half her young life in the fashion world (she reportedly hit the runway for Jean-Paul Gauthier at age 5). To date she has an impressive portfolio - the French girl has graced the cover of Vogue Enfants and posed for high-end editorials.
Born in the Ivory Coast, she has already been compared to Sixties siren Brigitte Bardot - who at the age of 15 appeared in ELLE.
But these latest images, which appear in the French magazine, have brought the issue to a head.
“We have grave concerns about the modelling agency who represent Blondeau, which clearly does not know if it represents a child or an adult,” the Daily Mail quoted a spokesperson for Mothers’ Union as saying.
“Photo shoots requiring her, a 10-year-old-girl, to dress in full make-up, teetering heels and a dress with a cleavage cut to the waist across her pre-pubescent body deny Blondeau the right to be the child she is.
“These images would, we hope, post Bailey Review, not pass through the standards of magazines, on street advertising,” the spokesperson added.
The fashion industry's interest in a younger generation of consumers and models is nothing new, but Blondeau's seductive photographs ignited concern that she is part of a growing - and disturbing - trend of sexualizing girls at too young an age.
"The research clearly shows that the fashion industry affects girls and women's images of themselves and their self-esteem if they do not meet the industry 'image' that is currently in vogue," Paul Miller, an associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University, told ABC.
"Even the very young are quite conscious of media images of what is 'pretty' and desirable."
Such images also raise concerns about child predators, he told the network.
"Any creepy child pornographer could plead 'artistic license'", Miller said.
Janna Sauers, editor at Jezebel.com notes the images are disturbing, but that they're "purposefully, knowingly disturbing" and aimed to provoke a reader to question the fashion industry's treatment of young girls.
"Models only three or four years (and one middle-school growth spurt) older than Thylane grace international runways, glossy magazine covers, and ad campaigns for luxury brands regularly," she writes. "Only they are not styled as children, which Thylane and the other child models so obviously were in this spread, with their too-big shoes and their white, little-kid cotton undershirts peeking out from too-big designer outfits."
She adds that she believes that the spread was published in the knowledge that outrage would follow, which it seems to have done.
Blondeau is not the first young model to stir up the sexualization debate. Brooke Shields created plenty of controversy in 1975 when the then-10-year-old posed provocatively for the Playboy publication Sugar 'n' Spice.
In 2007, a 13-year-old Dakota Fanning posed in a controversial campaign for Marc Jacobs. And her younger sister Elle Fanning is now the face of Jacobs' Fall 2011 campaign – at the age of 13. Miu Miu recently chose Hailee Steinfeld, the 14-year-old star of True Grit, as the face of its fall 2011 campaign.