Print modelling, as I understand it, is used in magazines, newspapers and on billboards in order to promote a product of some sort. We often see beautiful or striking men and women trying to sell purses, jeans, dresses and shoes to the general public. Children, too, have their place in the modelling world, and often do print work to promote children’s clothing, shoes and products.
It’s not shocking to many of us to see images of a young girl using a hula-hoop while wearing something like cowboy boots, striped knee-highs and a denim shirtdress to promote a brand’s back-to-school clothing line. It is, however, slightly more shocking to many of us to see a 10-year-old girl in a headdress wearing jeans, some necklaces and nothing else.
When such photos of 10-year-old model Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau surfaced last week, I began to wonder if her longing gazes, pouty lips and suggestive poses might be just a bit too sexually suggestive for public consumption. The child modelling business is kind of a tricky territory, isn’t it? In a world where sex sells, photographers and marketers often push the limits when it comes to their adult models. This, however, becomes more problematic when you have to ask how sexy is too sexy when dealing with underage children. While some of Blondeau’s photos are lovely—a credit to both this beautiful and obviously talented 10-year-old, and her skilled photographer—others make me feel uneasy and uncomfortable.
It seems I’m not the only one who feels that way—many of the commenters on the story on Fashionista.com admit to being uncomfortable as well. However, some have a different point of view. As one commenter put it, “She is amazingly beautiful. Unlike any 10-year-old I have seen ever. Why not let her put on make up and play dress up and make a lot of money doing it?” Well, for me, children should be photographed as children. They should be seen frolicking and eating ice cream and walking the halls at school. They should be jumping rope and riding bikes and hanging out with their friends. They should not be photographed lying on bear-skin rugs in stilettos and too much red lipstick. They should not be photographed as mini-adults, because the fact is, they aren’t.
What do you think? Do these photos make you angry or uncomfortable? Or are they perfectly harmless?
–Ali, senior associate editor of CF.ca
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