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  1. raya
    raya August 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm |

    An 18-year-old can, with an appropriate application of diet pills and cigarettes, present the body of a twelve-year-old.

    I don’t comment here often, mostly due to language barriers, but sentences like these really bug me and I really don’t get why they always come up when talking about models.
    I get to hear that my body resembles that one of a 12-year-old girl/boy ALL THE TIME. Guess what. I’m 19 years old, therefore my body looks like that of a 19-year-old.
    Not all skinny girls/women and boys/men are skinny because they live on cigarettes and diet pills. It’s like saying all fat people don’t exercise and eat fastfood all day.

  2. bpbetsy
    bpbetsy August 3, 2011 at 9:41 pm |

    Hope this isn’t too far off topic…

    I really love style and fashion and expressing myself through clothing. (High femme here). I’m the perfect consumer to target fashion advertisements and magazine spreads to. But the industry is doing it wrong, because I am not remotely interested in purchasing any garments that appear on a child or an adult with the measurements of a child, as they wouldn’t fit or flatter me. My eyes glaze over in response to editorials with very thin models of any age – I simply can’t envision or imagine the clothing on my frame, so I don’t feel enticed or excited to buy it. (And I’m someone with size privilege). They think they are selling a fantasy, but I’m much more likely to fantasize about a beautiful dress if I can see it on an adult woman who doesn’t have supermodel proportions, if I can genuinely see “myself” in it.

  3. Jacky
    Jacky August 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm |

    OMFG the photo of the headdress… because that’s what we need, more sexualization of First Nations (or even badly stereotypical, symbolicly First Nations) children… as if the high rape and murder rate of our women and children (70% of which crimes are committed by non-First Nations people), and the whole residential schools/60s scoop/millennial scoop violence isn’t bad enough
    how do people even get to a head space where they think it is ever o.k. to engage in this kind of creepiness, racism, and objectification, much less use a child to promote it?!
    barf.
    I might have some coherent thoughts about the rest of it when I feel less rage-y

  4. Ashley
    Ashley August 4, 2011 at 12:21 am |

    I agree with Raya. It really concerns me that anyone compares a woman or model that a lack of curves as 12 year old boys. Lots of women are naturally this way and I don’t see it as anything other than beautiful.

  5. bpbetsy
    bpbetsy August 4, 2011 at 1:01 am |

    Ashley – I agree it is beautiful. Most of my female partners have had this body type. It just shouldn’t be presented as the only attractive, acceptable shape for an adult woman – especially because it does differ quite dramatically from the “average” female figure, and because most women cannot achieve it without taking unhealthy measures.

    Note that I’m not just talking about being slim – which lots of healthy women are – but also being taller than 5’9, with broad shoulders, flat chests, and narrow hips. This particular body type is extremely rare and yet has become the uniform standard for high fashion, and the figure that all women are supposed to strive for.

  6. Matthew Jameson
    Matthew Jameson August 4, 2011 at 7:42 am |

    The link re: Lindsey Wixson goes straight to a photo of her on a catwalk with a completely sheer top, no bra and visible nipples. Can we please not link to what are essentially nude photos of a child? Please?

  7. Brigid
    Brigid August 4, 2011 at 8:54 am |

    Our girls need to know that while they do have to play a respectful part in the social contract, they also have the right to stand up for themselves when they feel the need, even if it’s against authority figures. Even if it’s against their friends. Even if it’s against us.

    Such a good point. For all my parents gave me some backwards ideas (like: femininity is weak, sexuality is evil), a huge reason that I am the feminist I am today is that they also taught me to disobey. Or, as they would put it, “question authority.” They gave me the tools to rebel against and stand up to even them, and for that I’m ever grateful.

  8. Matthew Jameson
    Matthew Jameson August 4, 2011 at 8:57 am |

    Caperton: You make a good point. Links have been shifted around, and a note has been made. That said: Even acknowledging that these girls are young, oversexualized, and frequently taken advantage of, I’d rather not get into the habit of calling a 15-year-old a “child.”

    So you think she’s a “girl,” but you object to me calling her a “child”? See dictionary.com definition: a person between birth and full growth; a boy or girl.

    Or don’t. Whatever. I’m not real interested in getting derailed talking about the difference between a “minor” and a “child.” Thanks for fixing the links.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/child

  9. Tei Tetua
    Tei Tetua August 4, 2011 at 9:32 am |

    I would very much like to see a prosecution of everyone involved in that exhibition of Lindsey Wixson, for child pornography. The legal definition in kiddie-porn cases isn’t what’s shown or not shown, but the sexualization of a minor, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. The defendants would have to include Wixson herself, because as a professional she should be aware of what she’s doing. But as you so rightly said, if she weren’t willing, there are plenty of other girls who would be. And in a way that’s worst of all–the fact that this kind of stuff isn’t seen as a horror, but as totally wonderful.

    The makeup ought to be illegal too, but I’m not aware of any laws about it.

  10. SamanthaPink
    SamanthaPink August 4, 2011 at 10:02 am |

    I really agreed with all you said. The photoshoots that these 10 and 15 year olds are having..it’s quite disturbing. But I also found it hypocritical that Lindsey Wixson asked for a nude bra for one photoshoot but then walked in a fashion show bra-less in a see-through shirt. I guess you make a point by saying that if she didn’t do it, so many other girls would. But she ended up not even making a point. She still did it, and there are still pictures showing her breasts. That’s counter-effec

  11. Li
    Li August 4, 2011 at 10:52 am |

    Tei Tetua: I would very much like to see a prosecution of everyone involved in that exhibition of Lindsey Wixson, for child pornography. The legal definition in kiddie-porn cases isn’t what’s shown or not shown, but the sexualization of a minor, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. The defendants would have to include Wixson herself, because as a professional she should be aware of what she’s doing. But as you so rightly said, if she weren’t willing, there are plenty of other girls who would be. And in a way that’s worst of all–the fact that this kind of stuff isn’t seen as a horror, but as totally wonderful.

    The makeup ought to be illegal too, but I’m not aware of any laws about it.

    Seriously? You want to see a prosecution for child pornography that includes the minor being portrayed? Do I even have to outline how many ways in which this is a terrible, terrible idea?

  12. Teaching the Value of Disobedience « O, Pioneers!

    [...] Feministe, Caperton writes about how the fashion industry sexualizes very young models, and how it depends upon obedience. [...]

  13. matlun
    matlun August 4, 2011 at 11:41 am |

    Li: Seriously? You want to see a prosecution for child pornography that includes the minor being portrayed? Do I even have to outline how many ways in which this is a terrible, terrible idea?

    Yes, it is beyond ridiculous. Still this happened before in for example numerous sexting prosecutions, so clearly it is not obvious to everyone…

  14. licious
    licious August 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm |

    SamanthaPink:
    I really agreed with all you said.The photoshoots that these 10 and 15 year olds are having..it’s quite disturbing.But I also found it hypocritical that Lindsey Wixson asked for a nude bra for one photoshoot but then walked in a fashion show bra-less in a see-through shirt.I guess you make a point by saying that if she didn’t do it, so many other girls would. But she ended up not even making a point.She still did it, and there are still pictures showing her breasts.That’s counter-effec

    I think the issue here is that Lindsey Wixson, to my mind, is neither really a child or an adult. As both a teenager and an individual, Wixson has agency and is learning to negotiate that agency in the world around her. Fully adult people don’t always make great decisions, and that is certainly true for teenagers, and it must be remembered that Wixson ISN’T an adult. As a teenager, she is entitled, and arguably should be encouraged to, make mistakes. The unfortunate part of this situation is that Wixson is in a vulnerable position as both a woman and a model, and I worry about conversations that risk making it seem like she is at fault for making the decision that she did.
    Furthermore, she doesn’t have the relative privilege of making this ‘mistake’ in private. Instead, the public is subject to watching her negotiate her agency in these public spaces, which is a lot of pressure for anyone, never mind a minor.

  15. Photographer Dani Brubaker Isn’t Pleased With The Response To Her Images Of Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau | TheGloss

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  16. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin August 4, 2011 at 3:15 pm |

    That tradition reaches far into the past. In the Silent Era of films, the kleig lights used to illuminate a set were extremely bright and revealing. Any minor blemish showed up on film, so extremely young actresses were often used for reasons you’ve cited.

    A leading role might be played by someone as young as 15 or 16, but once a woman reached the age of 24 or 25, she more or less was forced into retirement. I wonder how much this precedent influenced that which followed it.

  17. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni August 4, 2011 at 3:47 pm |

    I also found it hypocritical that Lindsey Wixson asked for a nude bra for one photoshoot but then walked in a fashion show bra-less in a see-through shirt

    In the language of my people – “Gan te Jarra, man”.

    Hypocritical? Show me a 15yr old employee (especially in such a coercive industry) with total agency, and I’ll show you a bridge I’ve got for sale.

  18. Iris
    Iris August 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm |

    Comrade Kevin:
    That tradition reaches far into the past.In the Silent Era of films, the kleig lights used to illuminate a set were extremely bright and revealing.Any minor blemish showed up on film, so extremely young actresses were often used for reasons you’ve cited.

    A leading role might be played by someone as young as 15 or 16, but once a woman reached the age of 24 or 25, she more or less was forced into retirement.I wonder how much this precedent influenced that which followed it.

    I am curious as to the source of your information.

    How many of these women were forced out of the movie industry in their mid 20s?

    Are you saying blemish concealing makeup was not available 100 years ago? Cuz I know those women wore makeup. You can see it in the films.

    Who decided a blemish was the end of one’s career? Do blemishes suddenly appear in one’s mid 20s?

    I’m not convinced this is the precedent to thrusting a 10 year old into sexually laden poses. Are you saying only 10 year olds are blemish free enough to be photographed as a sexual object nowadays?

  19. McSnarkster
    McSnarkster August 4, 2011 at 7:19 pm |

    Honestly, the top she’s wearing in the LaCoste photo isn’t sheer everywhere, especially the parts that are more thickly draped. Plus she has a jacket over it. My guess is backstage she (and maybe others) might not have realized how sheer it was–either the fabric was falling in a way that hid stuff, the jacket covered things until she started walking, or it’s the usual culprit: a camera’s flash making clothing more sheer. I don’t think it’s really fair to call her a hypocrite, even if I’m wrong and she did give into pressure. I remember how hard it was to resist peer pressure at that age, and while a group of other teens may be daunting, I’m sure the pressures of fashion week must be much, much higher.

    (And child pornography? Seriously?)

  20. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays August 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm |

    I guess the real question here is why and how we as a society decided that pores are disgusting (but only on women).

    I do some photography. In high-res images you can always see minor skin imperfections, in the sense that no one’s skin actually looks the way Photoshopped skin does. (Not even the skin of children, really, it’s just closer.) Now, I’m a pretty shallow person in some ways, and often I’m photographing men who I find physically attractive and think of in a sexual way. But the revelation that in extreme close-up their skin is not at all smooth or poreless does not make them seem less attractive to me, because that’s how I expect skin to look. So why do so many people apparently think that pores, skin tone that’s not uniform, etc, are things that ought to only exist on men? (And no, it’s not a makeup issue either, because I’ve photographed men who wear makeup and you can still see their pores, in fact in some ways makeup emphasises pores and lines.) How did we as a culture come to decide that what’s most attractive on a female person is for her to have skin that appears to be made of smooth plastic?

    Maybe this is an artsy person’s perspective or something, but I actually find the natural texture of skin very sexy. As in, the sexiest photos I can think of are ones where you can see all the minor variations that occur in skin tone, the way pores open when a person is hot, sweat beading on skin, etc. Am I unusual in this, or do other people somehow maintain a separaration where the skin on the body is sexy in its natural state but the skin on the face is supposed to look plastic?

  21. Erin Joyce
    Erin Joyce August 4, 2011 at 9:46 pm |

    This reminds me in many ways of the child beauty pageant industry. The parents and adults involved in high glitz pageants claim that they don’t sexualize the children and that these pageants are completely innocent while they have the children do a shimmy in bedazzled swimsuits. I’ve even seen a little girl do a sexy dance routine in a stripper-like, shinny “policewoman” outfit (miniskirt, boots, tank). Our society sexualizes grown women like there’s no tomorrow; do we need to turn the children into meat, too?

  22. katrina_iskierka
    katrina_iskierka August 5, 2011 at 5:04 pm |

    I am getting a lot of new thoughts to think about, I have thoughts from yesterday in discussion with a friend here-> http://www.journalfen.net/users/fangirl/1856.html?mode=reply and I will mull over, digest, read the comments here, mull over, digest, and repeat the process until I go from A to B, a movement that appears to be in circles but is yet a progressive, forward-thinking forward movement. Thank you for your concise thoughts. The subject evoked a lot of emotion from me, and now it’s time to mull.

  23. When high-end fashion sexualises little girls « blue milk

    [...] This is a fascinating discussion – where is the line between sexualising little girls and dressing up, between exploitation and cynical fashion industry humour; what makes a particular pose adult or even too sexy for a child? [...]

  24. Nifty
    Nifty August 8, 2011 at 7:51 pm |

    I have a lot to thank websites like this for, disobedience wise; I am a pre-teen girl, and feminism has really made me think more about whether the adult world is so great after all. Many of my friends never really learned that, and it’s sad.

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