Child models have been causing controversy since the 1980s: Brooke Shields, who was 12 when she appeared, heavily made-up, in the 1978 film Pretty Baby, above, was 14 when she first appeared on the cover of Vogue. Photograph: Allstar via The GuardianBrewing in the Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau 10-year-old model controversy is the conversation we really want to have — and have been writing about for two years.
While I don’t agree with The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr’s specific comments about Tom Ford being a gay male designer not on the side of women like myself, nor do I feel that way about Marc Jacobs, I DO agree with her general commentary in today’s Vogue is not a magazine for children: Designers may be using 10-year-old models to sell clothes to grown women. I’m not buying it.
But then, it has long been said that fashion is a con-trick by largely gay male designers to make women look more like men: breastless, hipless, as skinny as a boy. And in this respect, pre-pubescence is merely the next logical step. These clothes aren’t meant to look good on you, they’re meant to look good on Justin Bieber. (And even he would struggle in that Marc Jacobs dress.)
Child models are absurd. The logic of anti-femininity taken to its ultimate extreme, an expression of the hatred fashion designers seem to possess towards the women they dress. Wear Tom Ford, or Marc Jacobs, or Miu Miu… but only if you really hate yourself that much.
We must throw Miuccia Prada into the mix, too, with Miu Miu’s use of Hailee Stenfeld, when I believe the designer is as pro-woman as they come.
In my playbook, the balancing act is more complex in calling out certain designers and not others. I’m more interested in years of images, collections and commentary about women. I refuse to condemn Tom Ford when I believe he is a good friend to Smart Sensuality women. Another person might argue that Ford sexualizes women, and I agree that libido ebbs in all of his work — thank God!
Nevertheless, given fashion’s insane preoccupation with Andrej Pejic — which I can confirm based on his page views which are tops at AOC; size 0 models and no curves; and now pre-pubescent young girls or size 0’s that look like young girls (read my commentary about Fall 2011 Louis Vuitton campaign playing dressup joke in my opinion), the big picture commentary from Carole Cadwalladr stands.
Fashion monasticism, promulgated first and foremost by the king of Paris fashion is focused on the desexualization of strong, powerful women who are also grownups — think Crawford, Turlington, Campbell, Seymour, Christiansen, Shakira, Jolie, Madonna, Queen Rania.
Fashion has replaced this woman with Andrej Pejic and girls with no mounds of womanly tissue on hips or breasts, supported by Sarah Jessica Parker and her crew. What are we femmes to think?
Nyasha Maronjodze in Louis Vuitton Fall 2011 campaign.Why can’t fashion have room for Ines de la Fressange and Crawford; Sasha Pivovarova and the new drop-dead gorgeous Nyasha Matonhodze, who at 16 OWNS the Louis Vuitton Fall 2011 campaign, because she looks like a young adult woman who conceivably rides in the back of the big luxury car. The rest are pretenders or sugar babies, and we won’t go there.
Gender Is 21st Century Fluid
We should add in Andrej Pejic and Lea T because 21st century sexuality IS evolving. Not to be the armchair psychologist — and don’t send Michele Bachmann after me — but gender fluidity is real among young people especially.
The problem is that the fashion industry can’t multi-process more than a single look for women — even if the look is a transgender guy or a child.
Fashion swings its ideal woman moods with an insanity that intelligent women don’t comprehend and shouldn’t take very seriously. The problem is that the media and blogosphere so saturate our every waking moment with images and news of ‘these people’, that the trends are impossible to ignore.
When 10-year old girls are crying out in horror that their bodies are changing and becoming rounded, causing them not to look like Andrej Pejic, the fashion patriarchy is having a lot of impact on the female psyche — and I don’t like it one bit.
Thylane Blondeau’s Mom Steps In
On the subject of Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau 10-year-old model images, her mother has stepped into the situation, shutting down her Facebook page, and certain blogs using her photos without permission.
I watched ‘horrified’ bloggers condemn Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau model images, while digging out a single image of her without a shirt and leading with headlines 10-year-old ‘topless’. Talk about trolling for page views! And who is exploiting children?
(Above screen grab from BlackBook)
Bottom line, I believe the Tom Ford|Carine Roitfeld December 2010 Vogue Paris editorial was not intended to exploit chidlren. When I reviewed it, I mused out loud that they had gone too far in publishing a commentary that would be easily misinterpreted.
‘Jeune Fille Innocente’ | Vogue Paris December 2010 by Tom Ford
It’s ironic that the Americans led the charge against Veronika Loubry last week. The issue is complex, and a big like the voracious condemnation of pornography by the same Conservatives who condemn it and consume much more of it than moderates or Liberals.
France isn’t known for dressing its children in rouge lipstick, before sending them off for a bikini wax. Unlike America, which considers women over the hill at 30, France celebrates older woman and the totality of a woman’s life cycle.
These images are an absolute reflection of youth culture in America. Tom Ford is a visionary and never one to ignore an opportunity for provocation. Is he false? I think not.
Nor do I believe that his transgression is the equivalent of Richard Prince’s infamous ‘Spiritual America’.
It is fair to ask if the editorial ‘Jeune Fille Innocente’ is an accurate statement about French kid culture or global kid culture, versus America’s kid culture. Because my specialty is grown women, I can’t speak to whether girls dress up like this in Argentina or Hong Kong. Anne
The rest of the industry should take to heart that many people are pushing back and aggressively on this idea that consumers — and even luxury consumers — should accept any images, beautiful woman messages and body types that fashion wants to jam down our throats.
Brooke Shields ‘Pretty Babe’ 1978, age 12.The reality that Booke Shields has re-entered the cultural dialogue on fashion’s love of girls — and especially America’s love of girls — reminds us that this is not a 21st century conversation but one that is decades old.
When she was 12 years old, Shields played a child prostitute her age in the 1978 film ‘Pretty Baby’. Eileen Ford, founder of the Ford Modeling Agency, said of Brooke Shields: “…She is a professional child and unique. She looks like an adult and thinks like one.”
Should Eileen Ford be strung up with Tom Ford and Carine Roitfeld? Or was the duo reminding us of the reality we choose to ignore in America and in many parts of the world obsessed with nubile youth.
At AOC we will continue to press the industry on the question: what exactly is wrong with size 4-6 models with breasts and hips? Why should these women and size 10 women, too, not be represented in fashion?
We support the Vogue Italia conversation on voluptuous women. But our greatest focus of all is the women that were, the size 4-6 women with muscles — the ones who were just too strong for the mostly gay men of fashion.
Perhaps we should be happy that designers didn’t cut off our heads along with breasts, hips, all muscles and 15-20 pounds of weight per woman. This IS a fashon patriarchy, fashion monasticism battle, make no mistake.
It is only when women stand up and say ‘enough’ that the fashion industry will get the message. Right now, the little guys with big names hold all the cards and the good girls — about 35 to 5 — get in line, terrorized at the thought of upsetting fashion’s little girl apple cart.
Perhaps it’s time for a bull in the china shop. Anne