Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vogue Model Too Young? It Is An Old Story

Ane Loubry Blondeau a 10-year-old model whose photos in Vogue Paris has sparked lots of heated discussions among people worldwide. The spread showed her in bright red lipstick, high heels, mature clothes and facial expressions that many say are too much for a young girl. Some people were appalled at the photos, saying she is overly sexualized and it was completely inappropriate. Others said it was just satire and the girl was showing very little skin.

So how young is too young for a child to be striking a provocative pose?  Fashion editorial is always looking for what is new or extreme - something "edgy" that will catch the viewer's eye. Putting young girls in couture clothes has always played on the edge of what is good taste.

Photo from "Babes in Coutureland" editorial spread that appeared
in August 2002 The New York Times Magazine

One thing for sure, this is an old story. Back in August 2002, the late fashion editor of The New York Times Magazine Amy Spindler ran an editorial in the Sunday Magazine called " Babes in Coutureland" which featured underage girls dressed up in couture clothes. We wrote an editorial condeming these photos and others that she published in prior editorials in the magazine:
New York Times Fashion Editor Amy Spindler Continues to Cross Over the Line Between Cutting Edge Fashion Editorial and Bad Taste:

I am hardly a prude, and believe firmly in creative freedom of the press. But in light of all the recent publicity surrounding the rash of kidnappings, sexual molestations and murders of young girls, I must say I found a few of the pictures in today's New York Times Magazine, ('Babes in Coutureland' ) which illustrated the 'I wanna look like Mom' trend a bit disturbing. Talk about bad timing, Spindler does it again!"
I emailed this editorial to Spindler and in response got a call from a New York Times lawyer telling me that I was harrassing the editor by contacting her via email. And while I did not get a chance to speak to Spindler, my editorial was widely read and commented upon the following week.

But the biggest surprise was yet to come. One of my subscribers was an editor from PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer. The August 20, 2002 show featured a segment by Anne Taylor Fleming reporting on the sexual exploitation of young girls by the media. Ms. Taylor specifically highlighted photos from The New York Time's Magazine feature article 'Babes in Coutureland' citing it as a prime example of the media's exploitation of young girls. When I saw the segment on TV, I almost fell off my chair.

Here is another earlier New York Times Sunday Magazine
spread  by Amy Spindler called "What's Your Sign?"

So we were not the only ones who found this style editor's taste open to question.  Like I have always said about fashion, nothing is ever new, it has all been done before.

-Ernest Schmatolla

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