Top fashion magazine French Vogue has stirred up a lot of controversy, condemnation and outrage by publishing provocative pictures of a 10-year-old model Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau in its January issue co-edited by designer Tom Ford.
The shots show Ms Blondeau in heavy make-up, revealing outfits and provocative poses. One image shows her reclining in a gold dress, the slashed v-neck exposing her bare chest and stomach.
In other images she wears stilettos, pouts alluringly while applying lipstick and dons a metallic dress with the front cut to the waist.
The daughter of French international footballer Patrick Blondeau and TV presenter Veronika Loubry, Thylane has been modelling since she was five and is hotly tipped to be fashion’s next big thing. She has graced the cover of Vogue Enfants, has shot a slew of high-end editorials and is the owner of a portfolio of which many an adult model would be proud.
Born in the Ivory Coast, she has already been compared to Sixties siren Brigitte Bardot – who at the age of 15 appeared in ELLE.
The pictures have reignited the debate about the sexualisation of young girls. Last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron called for more stringent rules on the depiction of children and the creation of a website where parents can complain about inappropriate material. The government has promised to enforce restrictions on the sexualisation of children in the media and sexual content in advertising.
On the heels of a barrage of criticism stemming from the publication of the fashion shoot of her daughter in French Vogue, the mother of 10-year-old Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau has shut down her daughter’s Facebook fan page after highly sexualised pictures of the girl sparked controversy and condemnation.
In a message posted on the young girl’s fan site, Veronika Loubry, 43, a French actress and television presenter, wrote in broken English:
‘Hey guys, I’m the mum of Thylane, something’s going wrong at the moment with Thylane and bad people in the U.S.A. about pictures she made eight months ago for Vogue.
‘Thylane doesn’t know about the buzz and I want to protect[her from my deepest heart… She’s so young.
‘So we are going to close this account for a while.
‘I know that all of you are good people who like her so I send you a big kiss, thanks.’
The Facebook page had over 700 fans, most of whom have been in raptures over the youngster’s angelic face and seemingly natural talent in front of the camera.
One fan writes: ‘Hey I just wanted to say that Thylane is absolutely stunning! xx’ while another writes ‘the awkward moment when a ten year old is prettier than you’.
A spokesperson for the Mothers’ Union said: ‘We have grave concerns about the modelling agency who represent Blondeau, which clearly does not know if it represents a child or an adult.
‘Photo shoots requiring her, a 10-year-old-girl, to dress in full make-up, teetering heels and a dress with a cleavage cut to the waist across her pre-pubescent body deny Blondeau the right to be the child she is.
‘These images would, we hope… not pass through the standards of magazines, on street advertising and other media within the UK.’
One blogger said of the images: ‘She is a beautiful little girl, as are all ten year old girls. While I am sure she will make a terrific model someday, I find these pictures beyond disturbing – she is styled way too maturely.’
Experts warned about the psychological damage done to children who are treated in this way.
Dr Emma Gray, a consultant clinical psychologist and clinical director of The British CBT & Counselling Service which deals in behavioural therapy, has this to say: ‘This picture is the antithesis of what childhood in our society should be; a child being exposed to a world she is not yet equipped to deal with solely to serve the needs of the adults around her.
‘If children are to develop into happy, grounded and psychologically balanced people their childhood needs to be spent appropriately preparing for the demands of the adult world.
‘Before they are exposed to this world it is the task of the adults around them to create an environment that gives them the time, space and nurture to complete their physical and psychological development. Prematurely exposing a child to the adult world is dangerously preventing the completion of their development into a person who can survive in it.’