Monday, August 8, 2011

This makes me feel ill

On Friday I came across photos of a French model who is making headlines for photo-shoots she did in Vogue and Cadeaux magazines. The pictures are sexually alluring, showing her reclining on leopard print pillows, sporting stiletto heels and a heavily made up face.


from Cadeaux magazine



from Cadeaux magazine



Vogue


This is nothing new for the pages of a high fashion magazine, so why the headlines? Because the model is only 10 years old. The images have drawn intense criticism from a number of circles and opened up a debate about how young is too young to pose provocatively.

The model is Thylane Blondeau. She is the daughter of actress Veronika Loubry and former French international football player Patrick Blondeau. Blondeau's mother, Veronika, defends the pictures, calling them 'art'. These include pictures of the child posing topless (which I have chosen not included in the post).


Thylane with mother Veronika


When I first saw the pictures, they made me feel sick to my stomach. All I can see when I look at them is a young girl, a child, dolled up so that she is sexually appealing to men.

Treating young girls as sexual objects teaches them to value themselves as such. Studies show that girls who identify their worth through a sexual lens are more likely to experience:
  • lower self esteem
  • depression
  • a higher incidence of eating disorders
  • failure in school, and
  • sexual activity at a very young age
This is true not only for the girls who are doing the modeling, but for all those who see them and are influenced by the photos. The photos contribute to the collective definition of youthful attractiveness in our society, a definition that seems to have become more and more sexual with each passing year.

Ten-year-old's have no concept of sexuality. They are still pre-pubescent. They are children. Not adults, but simply children.

This is not art. This is the visual trafficking of one's own child. It's dangling a young girl on a string before others, saying "look how sexually tempting she is. Don't you want her?"

I may be more sensitive to this sort of thing than others because of my recent history. My (soon-to-be-ex) husband is currently under investigation for child pornography. The topless pictures of young Blondeau look eerily familiar to images I saw in 'art' books that were confiscated, among other things, by police during a search of his office.

I realize I cannot look at a topic like this dispassionately. But honestly, in my mind, there's a very fine line between pictures like this and child exploitation. Perhaps there is no line at all.


44 comments:

  1. I saw the reports of a ten year old super model but I didn't realise that she was posing so provocatively. Awful. As a Mum of young girls I feel sick too.

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  2. What's worse is she looks about 6 years old, even with all the makeup.

    It's fun to play dress up with mum's lipstick and heels and even take goofy photos for the family. It's another thing altogether to put your child on public display after a 'team' has styled her, made her up and then photographed her.

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  3. I had heard about this, but this is the first time I've actually seen the photos.
    It's disgusting.

    If this is how she is encouraged to dress and act at only ten years of age, what hope does she have when she is a teenager? My heart breaks for her. She should still be playing dressups with her friends, not posing in next to nothing for what I am imagining is a middle aged man with a camera.

    Disgusting.

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  4. I'm not a fan. I find it disturbing that if there is professional lighting and makeup it's "art" but without it, it's porn. The subject is the same... a little girl who should be out playing with her dolls or climbing trees.

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  5. Totally agree with you. Makes me feel ill too. Honestly what is the purpose of this? What is the point of having a ten year old pose for these photos instead of an adult model if not to exploit your child, to cause controversy? It's sick and it's dangerous in my eyes. Let children just be children. They grow up too fast in todays society anyway.

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  6. You are right on the money. It is totally wrong and you know what, I do look at the parents and think WTF in these cases.
    Your kid can still be a model and you refuse for them to do the "sexy" looks. Chances are if your child is that beautiful, which this girl looks to be very pretty, the company will work around what you say is not ok.
    I don't like kids wearing heels in these ad's or a butt load of makeup. Why? At that age they are flawless without the makeup, why pack it on?
    It is scary because so many young girls have to grow up being bombarded with this, and it does affect other families because their children see it splashed around everywhere and think "That's normal".
    I know even for my generation there was a heavy emphasis (thankfully once high school hit, not before) on being "sexy" and you were nothing if you weren't found sexy by guys. I hate that it's even more extreme these days and hope that I can teach my boys that women do NOT look like that, and to have a great respect for ALL others (men, women, children, animals, the planet).

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  7. It makes me feel so sick and so scared for my own girl. I would hate for her to see pictures of this child - who still looks very much like a child, even made up like Alex said - and think that she was expected to look/act/behave in this way. I agree with Glowless - she should be playing with dolls or playing dress ups at home with her friends.

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  8. disgusting. I share your sick feeling. It's sad and hideous. Should be illegal really.

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  9. That poor little girl is now the centre of something that she never asked to be a part of. I cannot stand how things that should be simple, such as don't sexualize little kids, can apparently suddenly be acceptable if it is deemed "art".
    Jenn

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  10. This is terrible! It's one thing to let little girls model age appropriately, it's another thing altogether to let them model as though they were grown women.

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  11. what a beautiful young girl. she actaully looks much more beautiful in the photo with her mother (though she is also a bit younger in that one?) such a shame that her parents are denying her a normal childhood. I'm sure they would say that they are but anyone who allows their daughter (or son) to be dolled up and provocatively photographed is taking away their innocence. very very sad :( the real shame is that some people don't see this as being wrong and use the word 'art' to make it somehow acceptable...

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  12. I so agree with you! And thank you for not including the topless pictures in your post. I feel that linking to them just makes more people look at them. I clicked on a twitter post about her that included a topless picture, and I wish I hadn't seen it. So scary and sad and awful.

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  13. Like you images such as this make me sick. What the hell is wrong with their parent's? As Alex said it's totally different for little girls to be dressing themselves up with momma's lipstick & some dress up clothes. I feel the same way about the child beauty pageants. For heaven's sakes let kids be kids.Frankly I'd go so far as to call this kind of use of a child abusive and I know that's a very provocative statement.

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  14. I just edited a story on this for Madison mag, tom ford got a lot of backlash. This makes me feel sick, really. And now the child beauty pageants in Melbourne.

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  15. At first I didn't realise that she was a little girl until you pointed it out, but when I looked closer I was shocked beyond words. I haven't heard about this in the media (but that's because I don't watch a lot of tv or listen to the radio much).
    As a mother of a young daughter, I would never put her in such a position. I think it is completely wrong to do that to a child. There should be age restrictions for certain types of modelling. Personally I think there is a line, and people just cross it regardless. Sexualising children is not on! Childhood is a precious time and once you grow up, you don't ever get it back.

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  16. Steve (Bloggertropolis) made a comment on my post 'The Dead Woman' that when people see their own darkness as art, they are truly lost. I am reminded of this when I look at these photos. Her mother sees art. Some look at her and see beauty or a sexual image. Most of us see a little girl being exploited.

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  17. I try to see both sides of the story if I can, but this whole sexploitation of children HAS no other side that I can see. As adults, it's our responsibility to protect children, and preserve their innocence and their childhood. Let our kids BE kids.

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  18. Completely agree.
    Not only is this little girl covered in make-up & adult style clothing & being asked to pose as an adult - there isn't a single hint, in her eyes or her face, that she is happy.

    One of the most beautiful things about kids is their laughter, their smiles, their cheekiness, their innocent love of life. There is nothing of that in these pics. They're not beautiful, they're just sad.

    Why can people not just let children be children. It's heartbreaking and just plain wrong.

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  19. You are right. These photos make me want to puke. Are they even legal? I also hate the show "Toddlers and Tiaras". Gross and sad and sickening. How could ANYONE think this is ok?

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  20. I agree with everything you said except the part about a ten year old not having a sexuality. I don't think that's quite fair. They *are* human and humans are sexual. Where is the magic line at which point we admit that someone has a sexual identity? Children's sexuality develops over time.

    However, that doesn't make photos like this any less wrong. Photos like this only serve to interrupt and distort the natural development of a child's sexuality. It's sick.

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  21. I'm so glad there is an outcry over this, it reminds me there is some common sense in the world! I wrote about this the other day too, hope you don't mind the link: http://www.midthirtieslife.com/

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  22. This is just wrong and so, so cynical. Such obvious exploitation but the bastards behind it will be lapping up the furore. The law needs to changes... there needs to be charges and fines that can be brought to bear.

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  23. Should anyone be able to look at this dispassionately? It is WRONG on so many levels.

    And it is pimping your child in a big way - but I've also got to also say that Child Pagents are just as bad in my eyes.

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  24. Just. So. WRONG!

    I felt the same way when I saw the news story about this girl. What chance does she have of NOT being fucked up as a teenager?

    Sad, sad, sad.

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  25. I don't think this is art at all. I think little girls should be little girls, not used as living dolls. This is why I hate that Toddlers & Tiaras show. Too much make up and adult outfits on little girls. What happened to photographing children running while flying a kite?

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  26. It's wrong. Truly. I have a little girl and it would turn me inside out to think of her being looked at the way that many will be looking at this little girl.

    One question though: the media does what sells...that means there are enough people in the world that will buy this that they are doing this. Why? Any person should look at this little girl and be disturbed. Pedophiles are supposed to be a social anomaly are they not? Reminds me of when Amazon was defending that one book under ‘freedom of speech’. No the government shouldn’t intervene but…they shouldn’t have to…not when it comes to a kid.

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  27. @Autrumnraven - controvery sells.

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  28. I have two girls - one of which is 12, the other 9. Over my dead body would anyone take pictures of them like that. Her mother should be publicly flogged. Dumbass.

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  29. Child exploitation. deadset. These parents are selling their beautiful daughter's innocence for fame and fortune. Fucking disgusting.

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  30. This is beyond sick - why on earth would any mother in her right mind agree to their 10 year old daughter posing & then being photographed like this. But, & this point has been overlooked, WHO is this baby posing for??? I know of no adult who could wear the clothes she is wearing. We all know that models are just glorified clothes hangers. But this is expoitation at it's very worst.

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  31. its just plain wrong! Time to stop the oversexualisation of children!!! We need to stand up against this for our kids sakes! Good on you for posting this!

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  32. Applauding this post.
    Booing & hissing the content.
    Honestly???
    :-)

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  33. Yes, it is sad, but I wonder how much children get from their parents. Could the above be applied to adults as well? Are we a society that appeals through sexuality? If we are models to our children, what messages are they getting through us? Just made me think about society as a whole....

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  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  35. It's wrong, it's sick...it's enticing pedophiles. It makes me cringe. I feel like crying. It's not art. It's perverse. Just like all those stupid child beauty pageants they have here...it's UNNATURAL and totally giving the wrong message to children. I'm so upset right now I can even put into words what this evokes in me... UGH!

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  36. Eeew. Yep, you are right; it's wrong. Pig x

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  37. I'm not a mother, and I think it's wrong. So very very wrong. Shame on the mother for doing this. Let children be children.

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  38. Thank you for writing about this so well. At the time when i saw the photos I wondered if I was out of step with the modern world or if this was just some sick idea. "This is the visual trafficking of one's own child" Yes. You nailed it. Poor little girl.

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  39. I do not have kids, but I was one. And I developed a huge complex about my size and weight. I grew up in the 80's.

    I look at these images and I thank god I grew up when I did. I am a clusterfuck when it comes to body image and diet.
    But thank god I am not growing up now. They had not quite perfected the art of the 10 year old hooker look when I was a kid.....thank god.

    Mothers of daughters my prayers are with you, really, and do not belive your girls when they tell you they 'have eaten' already. I spent years lying to my mother about what I had eaten. Years xx

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  40. That poor poor darling girl. Also makes me sick x

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  41. yes, this is witness to a true decline of something significant. i saw a commercial on tv for a girls gone wile video and in the ad the man behind the camera, or some man next to the camera man, reaches out and grabs the breast of a woman, which is an assault. it was on a tv commercial. not a good sign for a society. neither are these photos, and especially the ones you didn't publish.

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  42. OMG RELAAAAAAAAx!!!!

    She stunning and beautifull!! You all should relaz a bit! Typical americans!

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  43. I'm late to comment on this but just saw it and I completely agree. There is no line between this and exploitation of children. That's not art. Why people don't see that as a problem with so many pedophiles out there -- more than we know about -- is a real puzzle to me. What's more important than children and their safety? ART? Please.

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