I appreciate fashion – not in the sense that I buy the latest designer clothes. Rather, I enjoy the aesthetics of it. It is creative and can be glamorous, silly, subdued, over-the-top, surprising, and even emotional (as is the case with wedding dresses for some people). Watching designs come to life on a show like Project Runway is entertaining and inspiring. Runway modeling, in particular, can be mesmerizing; the models’ bodies serve as moving canvases for art. However, needless to say, I was quite disappointed with the extremely unhealthy, waif-thin days of modeling. As personified by Kate Moss during that time, in the world of fashion, limits are always being pushed.
In fact, the newest controversy in the fashion world surrounds a provocative photo shoot of a 10-year-old posing in French Vogue. Here we have a child (younger than a teenager) photographed in adult poses and dressed up as a grown woman with sexy make-up, stilettos, stare, and all. Thylane Blondeau is without a doubt a gorgeous and striking girl (emphasis on “girl”). She clearly has the genetics for a modeling career now and in the future. If I were her mother, perhaps even I might suggest a short stint in modeling at some point. But at the age of ten, are these images pushing limits?
Some feel quite strongly about protecting all children from the modeling world. I don’t take as extreme as a stance, but I do take issue with the way some magazines portray children. Vogue is a fashion/lifestyle magazine. What lifestyle is being sold here? And to whom? If we think that only adults and teens will be reading these magazines, we would be sorely mistaken. The children of women who read these magazines have access to them, circulate the ideas, and sometimes even imitate these images at school.
See, you can’t really understand the issue here until you have heard stories of healthy seven- and eight-year-old girls asking if they are fat or if their thighs are too big, putting themselves quietly on an unforced diet. It is practically a given that a woman in Western culture will spend most of her life unhappy with her body. But we need to take note that, today, our society’s young children – so full of potential and who have been on this earth for not even a mere decade – are obsessing about their weight. Really, it has gone quite too far.
This is my own opinion, of course, and not a professional one, except for the fact that body image issues do not just lead to anorexia. There are issues and struggles related to poor self-image that can be lifelong: making food excessively complicated, giving up easily on healthy eating, and looking at health as unattainable because it is associated with certain celebrity body types. Of course, there are those who say critics should “lighten up” about Blondeau’s Vogue pictures. But they are just ignoring the glaring reality that body image issues are starting younger and younger.
**photo by BlackHawkTraffic (Flickr Creative Commons)