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Sexualising a girl just two years out of primary school is plain wrong

By Suzanne Breen

Published 07/08/2015

A 13-year-old girl posing provocatively in what looks like a giant wok. Meet Darcy Brittain-Dissont, hotly tipped to be Northern Ireland's next top model.

If these photos weren't promo pics put out by a modelling agency, we'd be calling them something else entirely - and we'd be contacting the cops.

We'd be deeply concerned about the dark and dangerous motives lurking behind anyone circulating such suggestive images of a child. Because that's what Darcy is, a child.

Strip away the make-up, the posturing and sophisticated swagger, and there's just a little girl, barely two years out of a primary school class. She's in a hurry to grow up fast, I get that. I have two young daughters and I see the race every day. To hijack clothes and make-up and pretend, for a few magic moments in front of the mirror, to be something they're not.

But that's where responsible parents and professionals in the modelling world step in and say no, wait for another few years until you're mature enough to enter this industry.

What they don't do is give the go-ahead for the sexualisation of a child. For adults to set up and circulate such images on the internet is, for me, obscene.

Darcy is due to make her debut at Belfast Fashionweek in a fortnight's time. With their perfect peachy skin, gangly legs and slender frames, young girls make ideal clothes horses for the fashion industry. But using them is immoral.

It's a cutthroat, bitchy business for adult women, let alone youngsters. And encouraging an obsession with looks in anyone so young is neither healthy nor harmless.

Kate Moss got into the industry when she was a year older than Darcy and admitted she suffered a nervous breakdown due to the pressures. Even after a cursory glance at the photos of Darcy, you can tell this is just plain wrong.

The organisers of the event, and her parents, need to catch themselves on. A 13-year-old does not belong on the catwalk. Let children be children.

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