Belfast Telegraph

Child models portray ugly face of fashion industry

By Gail Walker

We all know the world of fashion checked out of the reality hotel quite some time ago but every so often it still - unlike the actual clothes - manages to take your breath away.

And the latest controversy over 10-year-old model and "next big thing" Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau's spread in French Vogue marks a new, nasty low.

One photo features the child in a gold lame slashed-to-the-waist dress and killer heels. In another she lies on a leopard skin rug wearing leopard skin stilettos. A third shows the youngster before some kind of mirror in full warpaint, smearing red lipstick on her lips using her finger.

The poses - those of an adult model - are clearly intended to be sexy and provocative. We can quibble over whether the shots are pornographic or a paedophile's dream come true, arguing about the height of a shoe heel or the shortness of a skirt.

But the point is this is a prepubescent child in a business that runs totally on sexual allure. This is not a catalogue for Clark's shoes, this is French Vogue, for goodness sake.

Of course, the fashion industry has always shown the morals of a skunk in its quest for 'perfection'. And perhaps now that size zero models are temporarily out due to public outcry, the industry has moved on to kids in order to have their creations "hang right".

Disturbingly, Thylane Blondeau is not the only child on the catwalk and the glossies. Hollywood actress Elle Fanning (13) is the face of Marc by Marc Jacobs and adverts for the Miu Miu label feature 14-year-old film star Hailee Steinfeld.

These latest pictures act as an eloquent condemnation of a whole industry. After all, presumably they must have been approved not just by the editor of French Vogue and the guest editor, designer Tom Ford, but the designers, the model agencies - and yes even the parents.

And not one felt the urge to say: 'Mmm, hang on here. Might this not considered paedophilic?'

To which the answer seems to be "Who cares? It's fashion."

Beauty is truly a very ugly business.

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