A recent issue of Vogue Paris features Thylane Loubry Blondeau, a 10-year-old model. Although this is not her first time working with the fashion forward magazine, she graced the cover of Vogue Enfants, it is the first time her photos have created widespread controversy here in the United States and abroad.
The fashion industry has always featured young models, but Blondeau’s photographs, showing her in full makeup, dressed seductively with smoldering gazes, is raising an outcry concerning the sexualization of girls at too young an age.
“[Blondeau’s] looks a far cry from a typical 10-year-old. Even in childish smocks and cotton tees, her expressions are oddly adult,” ABC recently reported. Critics are concerned that by promoting the sexualization of girls at such a young age, they are in fact promoting unhealthy views of adolescent bodies. According to the National Institute on Media and the Family, “In a study on fifth graders, 10 year old girls and boys told researchers they were dissatisfied with their own bodies after watching a music video by Britney Spears or a clip from the TV show “Friends”.”
In an interview with ABC, Shari Miles-Cohen, senior director of women’s programs for the American Psychological Association said, “We don’t want kids to grow up too fast. We want them to be able to develop physically, emotionally, psychologically and socially at appropriate rates for their age.”
This isn’t the first time a young girl has been sexualized by the fashion industry. In 1975 Brooke Shields posed for a series of photographs by Gary Gross featuring her in full makeup and hair, naked in a bathtub. According to Iconic Photos, “Gross was working on a project for publication entitled The Woman in the Child, in which he wanted to reveal the femininity of prepubescent girls by comparing them to adult women.” Gross later published the photographs in Sugar ‘n Spice, a Playboy Press publication.