Vogue causes a stir with cover girl aged 10

22 August 2011 - 02:23 By Times LIVE
Model Thylane Blondeau
Model Thylane Blondeau

Blue eyes smouldering at the camera, sultry lips pouting, hair coiffed, lanky legs outstretched and dainty feet clad in stilettos, lying prone on a leopard print couch.

This is an image we're used to seeing in top international fashion magazines - except the image in question, which appeared in the January edition of French Vogue, is that of a 10-year-old girl.

The pictures of Thylane Blondeau have caused a stir, despite claims by Vogue that the offensiveness is intentional.

Blondeau, a seasoned fashion model - she appeared in Jean-Paul Gauthier's runway shows at age five - has a Vogue Enfants cover to her name. On the cover of the children's fashion magazine, Blondeau looks, appropriately, like a child. But inside the adult version of the magazine, she looks like a sex pot.

Blondeau's mother, Véronika Loubry, a B-list celebrity in France, claims to be confounded by the media furore, saying: ''It's surprising to see them resurface months later. I understand that this could seem shocking. I admit I myself was shocked during the photo shoot. But let me be precise: the only thing that shocked me is that the necklace she wore was worth R31-million."

The argument made by the Vogue editorial is that the shoot is meant to be read as a parody of the attempts that the fashion industry makes to sexualise inappropriately young girls every day, which mostly pass without notice.

The fashion industry routinely lauds women who are stick thin, with bodies like 10-year-old girls. Women's self-esteem is affected if they do not meet the industry trend that is currently in vogue.

Most people agree that it is unhealthy to sexualise young girls. Child psychologists have given countless reasons not to do so. But few people have thought about the effects of these images on adult women.

Models are the messengers for fashion's most pernicious ideas about how women should look and weigh and be. The fashion world keeps them starving to be stylish.

According to Jenna Sauers in an article on the blog site Jezebel, this spread is a ''not-so-subtle condemnation of Western culture's unhealthy obsession with youth [in general] and the fashion industry's [in particular], and to the commodification of childhood that comes with both".