The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Children as Models

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I’m usually a fan of the slightly ridiculous images that constitute fashion ads and editorials.  Images like Julianne Moore curled up with lion cubs and a Bulgari purse, or Victoria Beckham hiding out inside a giant Marc Jacobs shopping bag, are creative and amusing, at least to me.  But like any art form, fashion photography has limits of taste and places it just shouldn’t go.  The latest issue of French Vogue seems to have blown past these boundaries by including a fashion spread featuring young girls modeling adult clothes.

All fourteen images in this editorial are of elementary-ages girls wearing dresses designed for adult women.  The girls are also heavily painted with makeup, and posed like the disaffected models that are usually featured in these types of spreads.  It is disconcerting, to say the least, to see girls slathered in eye shadow trying to imitate the pouts and heavy-lidded looks of older models.  It’s even more disturbing to see them lounging on animal-print rugs and wearing stilettos and skirts hiked up around their thighs.

Some are arguing that this shoot is merely an extended version of the dress-up games many girls play.  To me, though, there is a huge difference between play and actually being styled for fashion photography.  Most of the time, dress-up for girls is pure fun and involves old Halloween costumes and their mother’s ratty castoffs, and little (if any) makeup.  French Vogue, however, decided to dress these girls and pose them as if they were grown women, when in fact these girls have undeveloped bodies and no grasp of the sexuality that adult clothes and attitudes can convey.

There’s some evidence that many people feel a similar uneasiness with this photo spread.  Carine Roitfeld, who was a longtime editor of French Vogue, recently left the magazine in a hurry, and there is speculation that she was fired over this editorial.  Perhaps under a new editor French Vogue can go back to normal (whatever that means in the fashion world) and  lead the way in saying no to offensive photoshoots and embracing not just adult models but also diversity and healthy body images.
- Miriam Musco
Junior Girl
Girl Museum, Inc.

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