This is going to be a rambling post touching on a lot of related topics. Respond to whatever grabs you in comments, because this stuff needs to be discussed too much to fuss over what’s “on topic.”
A winter issue of Vogue Paris featured some photos of 10 year old girls made up and photographed to look like adults. You can see most of them here, but there was one CNN wasn’t allowed to post, and you can see it here. The first question, of course, is: is this acceptable, or a form of child abuse, or something in between? Sound off in comments.
The second question, however, is: can we learn something from this as a society? Jezebel makes a chilling point:
Here are just a few of the models who began working extensively at the ages of 12, 13, and 14: Tanya Dziahileva. Chanel Iman. Karlie Kloss. Lindsay Wixson. Monika Jagaciak. Current Vogue Paris covergirl Daphne Groeneveld. Going back further: Kate Moss. Brooke Shields. Patti Hansen. Niki Taylor. Kimora Lee Simmons. Bridget Hall. Gisele Bündchen. Karolina Kurkova. Linda Evangelista. Christy Turlington. I could go on.
Bold emphasis mine. Those models you see on covers that look twenty-three are twelve. The ones you see that look thirty are, at most, sixteen. Why? I don’t know. The same thing doesn’t happen with male models. Of course, twelve year old boys can’t be made to look like twenty year olds because their bodies develop at a different pace from girls’. But the fact that a young girl can be made to look like a grown women doesn’t mean that’s how the fashion industry should create photo spreads. It’s not like they don’t still need to touch up the photos of prepubescent girls to make them look good enough for the fashion world. And thanks to airbrushing and now Photoshop, even old hags like Julia Roberts can be made to look, well, at least passable! (That was sarcasm: Roberts is beautiful without Photoshop, but it seems Lancome disagrees.)
There’s more from the Jezebel article, which I strongly recommend reading (you have to click each picture to get another “page” of the article):
Girls who get scouted are thrust into a very adult working environment. Suddenly, they become girls who are signed as independent contractors to agencies that may screw them over. Girls who may be asked to do nude work. Girls who in any case have to change clothes at jobs in full view of perhaps dozens of photographers.
And let’s not forget Corey Feldman’s recent remarks in the wake of Corey Haim’s death. He says Hollywood’s big secret and “#1 problem” is pedophilia, and it’s everywhere, and the casting couch applies to kids, too:
“I was surrounded by [pedophiles] when I was 14 years old. … Didn’t even know it. It wasn’t until I was old enough to realize what they were and what they wanted … till I went, Oh, my God. They were everywhere,” Feldman, 40, said.
The trauma of pedophilia contributed to the 2010 death of his closest friend and “The Lost Boys” co-star, Corey Haim, Feldman said.
“There’s one person to blame in the death of Corey Haim. And that person happens to be a Hollywood mogul. And that person needs to be exposed, but, unfortunately, I can’t be the one to do it,” Feldman said, adding that he, too, had been sexually abused by men in show business.
I strongly suggest reading this article too – it’s a short, disturbing read. The uninformed wonder why pedophilia is so common in the Catholic church, and now they can wonder about Hollywood too. But what do these two groups have in common? Power. Lots of it. If you enjoy abusing people, working in Hollywood behind the scenes is the way to go. You don’t have to work around the industry long to figure that out. If you don’t want to support abuse, working behind the scenes becomes difficult. If you don’t like being abused, working before the cameras becomes nearly impossible.
And into that environment, which has chewed up and spat out adults (mainly adult women), we throw children. The fashion industry is at least as bad. The creep factor is off the scale.
What the hell are we doing? Is our culture just really secretly okay with adults sexually abusing kids? Because people sure aren’t bothering to educate themselves. All the clues are there. You can learn most of it from TV shows these days. No schooling or reading of books (just magazines) is required. And yet, people still just don’t seem to give a damn. It’s inexcusable and unacceptable.
If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Ignorance is no longer an excuse.