French Vogue.... a step too far?
I remember when I was younger, I used to love watching my Mum put on her makeup. Whether just for daytime, or for going out, I would sit on her bed and watch in awe of all the lotions and potions. I would play with retractable blusher brush, saying it was like the children chimney sweepers in Mary Poppins. But the nail varnishes, the blushers, the lipsticks... they all seemed too special to touch.
Sometimes, if I was good, I would get a slick of lipgloss. The babysitter would arrive and I'd puck my lips out, until they admired the shine. Yes, I was desperate to be old enough to wear makeup everyday, but at that age, a slick of lipgloss was enough to make me feel glamorous (worn with my Disney Princess nighty and slippers!!)
However, in the December issue of French Vogue, glamour for the preschoolers was taken a step too far. Tom Ford guest edited on the magazine, which featured the shoot entitled “Cadeaux” (meaning “gifts”). The shoot was approved by the magazine’s controversial editor, Carine Roitfeld - the December issue being her last before her departure from the magazine. It is still unknown whether she left off her own accord, or was fired due to these types of controversial shoots:
So perhaps Roitfeld just wanted to make her mark before she left. But is the exploitation of these young girls really the way to do that?
It certainly caused controversy. New York Times reported the girls were only six years old, and the shoot has been slated as child pornography, "pedo-chic" and "a pedophiles dream issue" of the magazine. The children, in tight clothes and high heeled stilettos, are figures symbolizing sexuality. Are they even aware of what that is at that age? The pictures feature them in provocative poses, languishing on beds and tiger-skin rugs - not the typical past times of preschoolers.
The girls are fully clothed - however that is about the only redeeming issue. They are far too heavily made up - vampy lipstick paired with model pouts and suggestive gazes into the camera. At that age, I was playing dress up in pretend plastic heels, not modelling in Manolos. The shoot could have easily been carried out in a more appropriate way - utilising the childrens cuteness of 'playing in mums wardrobe', not exploiting them in high heeled leopard print slippers.
Fashion is always about pushing boundaries to the limit, and that's how it evolves. But that is what is worrying - we become desensitized to the images it portrays. Back in 1993, when Corrine Day launched skinny Kate Moss into stardom, the controversy created caused Day to be fired from Vogue magazine. However, we are now constantly bombarded with images of waif-like models. No longer does it create a reaction.
That's the scary thing about the shoot - is it simply creating another 'norm'? Will all advertisers begin to use the young models, stealing their childhood freedom and innocence? Think of all the hollywood 'stars' who launched to fame at a young age - Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson. Is the pressure associated with childhood stardom something we want to be creating for these girls??
On an extreme level - is this the start of us slowly being forced to accept child pornography? Because that may be the next step. If children can be used in Vogue's "sultry, sexy" shoots, then what is to stop photographers using them elsewhere - lingerie shoots, swimwear campaigns? It may seem ridiculous and grotesque to suggest it now, but the worry is that may be where we are heading.
It is the sad fact that if it makes money, it will probably catch on. I guess the mere fact I am blogging about this is created the desired effect ... any publicity is good publicity, right??
Let's hope, in this case, the backlash negates any publicity benefit.