Thylane Loubry Blondeau, a 10-year-old with stunning good looks, seems destined for a wildly successful modeling career. But photos of the preteen in this month's issue of French Vogue are reigniting a debate over the sexualization of young girls.
With her full lips, waist-length hair and piercing blue eyes, Blondeau is already an in-demand model. The Parisian has been modelling since she was four, appearing in such magazine as Vogue Enfants. But it's her spread in this month's French Vogue that has tongues wagging.
The issue, which was guest-edited by designer Tom Ford, shows the preteen Blondeau wearing a red dress, leopard-print stilettos and red nail polish while lying on a tiger skin rug in one shot. In another, she reclines on a bed dressed in a low-cut, gold lame gown and gold stilettos.
Blondeau is not the only little girl in the editorial. The spread features more than a dozen pages of girls in makeup and up-dos.
The editorial is said to have been designed to question our culture's -- and the fashion industry's -- obsession with youth. The copy in the spread asks, in part, "What makeup at what age? How does one wear makeup at 13? What about at 70? Obviously not like one does at 20."
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 1981 when the then-15-year-old posed provocatively in Calvin Klein jeans and declared that nothing came between her and her Calvins.
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.
1. Do you think that there is a big problem with the sexualization of young girls in the media?
2. Do you think that an editorial that purposefully shows sexualized pictures of young girls makes an effective social commentary about the issue?