While it is no surprise to find sexy images of women in media and advertisements, an issue tends to arise when those images are no longer of women but not even close to legal girls. Girls who cannot even decide for themselves what they are going to be eating for their next meal, let alone consent to pose in hyper-sexualized magazine spreads and advertising campaigns.
A specific series of photographs comes to mind when I think about sexualization of children in media… the 15 page spread of then 10 year old model, Thylane Loubry Blondeau, that appeared in French Vogue. In the spread, Thylane is shown wearing heavy makeup, stilettos, and plunging necklines whilst seductively gazing at the camera.
A post on Jezebel states, and I quote, “I personally found the Vogue Paris editorial refreshing. Sure, it was disturbing, but it seemed purposefully, knowingly disturbing…”
The authors argument goes on to explain that perhaps the spread was meant to provoke question about the fashion industries treatment of young models. That is exactly what the spread accomplished, but it seems pretty counterintuitive to bring attention to an issue of the industry by publishing 15 full color photographs glorifying the sexualization of a prepubescent child.
The shoot featured in French Vogue is not the first and will surely not be the last time a child is hyper-sexualized in media— but it is certainly one of the most memorable in my mind.
According to an article on Psychology Today by Fred Kaeser, “We are creating a generation of super-sexualized children. A significant number of children are actually demonstrating sexual interest and/or sexual behavior at earlier ages than ever before in our society.”
Evidence of that statement is quite literally all around us… you see it on television, in advertisements, or by just spending some time with middle schoolers for a day.
What would actually be “refreshing” is images of children in media of them being just that, children.