From 12-Year-Old’s in Lingerie to a Topless 10-Year-Old: When Fashion Goes Too Far

By Cavan Sieczkowski August 20, 2011 01:17 PM
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From 12-Year-Old’s in Lingerie to a Topless 10-Year-Old: When Fashion Goes Too Far

What if your 10-year-old daughter was asked to drape herself seductively over an animal skin? Or your 12-year-old asked to pose in her bra and panties? Any fan of fashion would attest to the belief that raw, creative expression is what makes the style world most enthralling. However, in recent times, it has become clear that some are crossing the line from creative into downright disturbing territory.

The French lingerie company Jours Après Lunes, initially geared towards adult woman, has just launched a line of lingerie for girls’ ages four to 12. The collection comes complete with panties and bras adorned with lace and bows. The items look strikingly similar to what one would find at La Perla… only the intended audience has not even hit puberty yet.

Photograph from the Jours Apres Lunes website, featured in the “four-12” year old section

Designer Sophie Morin defends the line, saying it is “innovative” and “unexpected,” according to an article featured on ABC News. She claims the line is actually “loungerie”, a possible attempt at making light ofthe fact that she is promoting cheeky undergarments to child ren. The website features photographs of the young models mimicking poses that can also be seen in the pages of a Vicotria’s Secret catalogue. Yet, again, these Jours Apres Lunes models are not women. The result is not “sexy” or even “cute” and the girls look more confused than anything else.

This newest controversy comes on the heels of another questionable issue from across the pond, happening just weeks earlier. Images of 10-year-old model Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau surfaced from the January issue of French Vogue, edited by Tom Ford. These highly-sexualized images featured the young Blondeau-turned-Lolita draped over various animal skins, lathered in make up, and staring “seductively” into the camera. The photos caused a firestorm sparked by individuals furious that such images – which easily blur the line between fashion editorial and soft-core pornography – would be condoned.

Controversial images of Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau from the January issue of French Vogue edited by Tom Ford. How young is too young for such a spread?

Despite shocking and appalling many, Blondeau’s mother defends the racy spread. Quoted in an ABC News article, Veronika Loubry, a fashion designer herself, told a French newspaper, “The only thing that shocks me about the photo is the necklace that she’s wearing, which is worth 3 million Euros [$4.3 million].” Comments were later posted on Blondeau’s Facebook fan page, possibly by the mother, stating “bad personn in usa [sic]” for drawing attention to her daughter, before later posting that “something going’s wrong at the moment [sic].” The page was then shut down.

The Parisian fashion world has been going crazy for this belle enfant. Blondeau, who walked the runway for Jean Paul Gaultier at a mere four-years-old, has quite the fan base. According to an article by the Huffington Post, there was a Tumblr page dedicated to Blondeau’s photographic work entitled “F**k Yeah Thylane Blondeau.” The body of work even contained photos of Blondeau topless. One has her with only necklaces covering her nipples; another has her topless on a bed with a male playmate propositioning a pillow fight. This page has also since been shut down.

Who, with right mind, would dub this girl as “captivating” or evoking a young Brigitte Bardot? This is a child. Such descriptions are nothing short of creepy.

According to the Daily Mail, Fleur Dorrell of the Mothers’ Union in the UK described the images as “physically disturbing” and guilty of “blurring all thoughts of beauty.” She also expressed “grave concerns” over both Vogue and the modeling agency that represents Miss Blondeau.

“She is over sexualized, just look what happened to JonBenet Ramsey,” clinical psychologist Leslie Seppinni said in an E! News article. “When you dress a young girl up provocatively with makeup to give her the appearance of an adult, then these pedophiles who have a propensity for child abuse are receiving the message that’s OK, when it’s not.”

This is not the first time images of young girls in the media have caused a stir. Denise Richards and Brooke Shields both posed in provocative ads at young ages. The TLC reality show “Toddlers & Tiaras” had critics saying that pageant moms are harming their children by exposing them as sexual entertainment for predators. Abercrombie, part of the Abercrombie & Fitch conglomerate, is a line marketed to children aged seven to fourteen. It faced controversy about the slogans emblazoned on its clothing. Boys’ shirts had messages such as “I will make you an all-star on the walk of shame” while girls’ underwear read “Eye Candy.”

Girls face extreme societal pressures to mirror the images they see in the mass media, to grow up quickly, and to be “sexy.” “The research clearly shows that the fashion industry affects girls and women’s images of themselves and their self-esteem if they do not meet the industry ‘image’ that is currently in vogue,” said Paul Miller, associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University in Phoenix, in an ABC News article.
“[The photos of Blondeau] clearly create an image of the girl as an adult woman, both in the clothing, the postures and emotional content of the images,” said Miller.

What about the children? In what volumes do these images speak? On August 3, the Justice Department charged 72 members of an online child pornography ring. These individuals had participated in a kiddie-porn board titled “Dreamboard” where members were instructed to upload images or videos of children 12-years-old or younger being sexually assaulted. The more violent and explicit the content, the higher one’s rank would go – from “VP” to “Super VP”. According to the LA Times, the investigation, beginning in 2009, was targeted at 500 people in 13 countries on five continents. Dreamboard is responsible for distributing 16,000 DVDs of child pornography.

Child pornography is listed as one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States right now, with a 2500% increase in arrests in the past 10 years. The Stop Child Trafficking Now website offers some alarming statistics on child trafficking. The average age of entry for children victimized by the sex trade industry is 12-years-old. Between 600,000 and 800,000 people are bought and sold each year. 50% of these individuals are children and most are female.

The CDC reports that the number of 15- to 19-year-old women infected with chlamydia, gonorrhea, and/or syphilis is increasing. Compared with older individuals, those aged 15-19 are amongst the higher risk group for acquiring STDs. This is due to “behavioral, biological, and cultural reasons.”

With images such as those from Jours Après Lunes’ line and French Vogue, surfacing in the mainstream media it is as if the sexualization of young children is condoned. This is not to say that the aforementioned photographs are child pornography akin to that distributed by Dreamboard; but the images blur the lines and that is where the danger lies. Once the boundaries are pushed just a little, it is so much easier to continue pushing.

Please visit to view Dr. Robyn Silverman’s appearance on the “Today Show” to discuss this issue and the repercussions of the sexualization of young girls.