Twelve-year-old child model Thylane Blondeau is in the news again. The last time we heard from the stunning fashion protege, she was making waves after being featured in topless photos in a Vogue Paris shoot at the age of just 10. This time her look is more covered up and more adult all at once.
The topless photos were designed to be as controversial as they were captivating. They succeeded in both departments and then some. But Thylane and her mother weathered the storm of criticism that followed this star-making turn and are back.
Now Thylane is being heralded as the new Kate Moss. There's a lot to this. She shares the same big-eyed naif qualities of Kate, along with a certain kind of doe-eyed, gangly-limbed appeal. But naturally her return has people discussing whether or not it's right for a girl of her age to take center stage in the hyper-sexualized world of fashion.
There's no denying the fact that Thylane is gorgeous in a specific and unique way. But she is also 12. It's only natural that others would speculate on just how much she actually wants to be doing the modeling work she's done up until the point, and how much of it has been accomplished solely to please her mother.
Strangely, that's the only part of the whole story that gives me pause. Because frankly I think we're a little late to the party when it comes to concerns about sexualizing children. That ship sailed with the advent of Barbie.
I consider myself a feminist, and I consider myself to be someone who advocates for children. That said, there are the Dakota Fannings who dwell among us. For wise-young-ones like this, who seem to love what they do and are preternaturally disposed to navigate the tumultuous waters of a stormy industry, I think it's completely up to the parents to decide if they are ready.
In fact, that's how it should stand as a general rule. Each child model should be taken on a case by case basis. If we start making blanket pronouncements about forbidding all children from modeling, we could run the risk of keeping truly gifted children away from something they were called to do. We have to trust parents to know their children well enough to determine whether or not modeling is the right choice for them in the long-term.
Do you think kids shouldn't be modeling?
Image via Twitter