Parents are arguing that there is a thick line between art and exploitation. However, French Vogue seems to think otherwise. Photos of 10-year-old model Thylane Blondeau, has caused an uproar in the fashion industry. From the pounds of makeup to the provocative poses, the doe eyed mini model has created a new image for preteens. The question is if this image is setting a positive example for other young girls.
CEO of Concerned Women for America, Penny Nance, disagrees:
“This is clearly child exploitation and her parents should be legally charged.”
Other critics felt the same about this issue. Editor of Feminsting.com, Chloe Angyal, stated: “This isn’t edgy. It’s inappropriate, and creepy, and I never want to see a nine-year-old girl in high-heeled leopard print bedroom slippers ever again.”
The other side of the debate is far more complicated, perhaps a culture clash? French critics have come to Blondeau’s defense and argued that her photos are artistic and not sexualized at all. In fact, some have even accused readers of having a pedophile mentality for looking at an adolescent in a sexual way. In contrast, French publications reported this incident in a different manner.
According to the Nouvel Observateur, “Rightly so, Veronika [Thylane's mother] wonders what is going on, “These photos were taken in December! I understand that these photos can be shocking. I was present during the shoot and I was shocked …about the price of the necklace she is wearing! It costs three million Euros!”
The French media did not focus on the portrayal of Blondeau because they believed that the content of her pictures were simply irrelevant. So are French girls raised differently than American girls? Absolutely!
French sociologist Carol Mann explains:
“There is no real teenage culture in France, no Larry Clark nor Hillary Duff. Somehow, one goes straight from childhood to a semblance of adulthood.”
In other words, French society is more accepting to this type of modeling because French girls grow up to be women a lot faster than American girls. Seeing mini-skirts and tight dresses hanging in a child’s closet is nothing out of the ordinary. Popular French clothing lines like APC and Maje design children outfits to be identical to the adults. Americans are not raised to understand French customs and vice-versa, however maybe this issue needs to be discussed further.
Where do you draw the line?