In a word, yes. When I first read this story in The Daily Mail yesterday, I couldn’t bring myself to write about it. The thought of a precious, beautiful, innocent little 10-year-old sexed up to the nth degree, photographed and plastered on the pages of Paris Vogue flat-out hurt my heart. I still refuse to republish the most provocative pictures in the spread. But I’m writing about it today because at least a couple of important points need to be made.
First, the background:
Wearing heavy make-up and gold stilettos, Thylane Blondeau sprawls seductively on leopard print bed covers.
The provocative pose might seem like nothing unusual for a Vogue fashion shoot – except that Miss Blondeau is just ten years old.
Now the shocking images of the French child model have brought condemnation from parents’ groups and MPs. …
Last night the Mothers’ Union issued a damning criticism of Miss Blondeau’s Vogue pictures.
‘We have grave concerns about the modeling agency who represent Miss Blondeau, which clearly does not know if it represents a child or an adult,’ it said.
‘Photo shoots requiring her, a ten-year-old-girl, to dress in full make-up, teetering heels and a dress with a cleavage cut to the waist across her prepubescent body deny Miss Blondeau the right to be the child she is.’
Obviously, the Mothers’ Union is right — and the vast majority of parents agree. According to a review cited in the Daily Mail article, 88 percent of parents say they think their children are under pressure to grow up too fast — and those children aren’t featured in risque magazine pictorials.
It’s often said, but bears repeating, that the TV, magazine and advertising images we absorb train our minds as to what is considered attractive — and, yes, specifically sexually attractive — in our culture. So, what does a magazine feature like this say? That it’s OK, even encouraged, to look at a child in a sexual way.
As Koa Beck, deputy editor of Mommyish.com, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday, these pictures encourage readers to view Blondeau in a sexual manner. “I think that I’m seeing a very young girl being sexualized, being gazed at in a very adult way,” Beck said on the show.
But it’s adamantly not OK to look at a child in a sexual way, as harsh laws against pedophilia and child pornography attest. Maybe it seems like a leap of logic to move from provocative pictures to pornography and pedophilia, but again, images train the mind’s eye. The more readers and viewers see children in adult poses and in adult clothes, the less jarring it will be to those readers and viewers to see children in adult roles. It’s all highly inappropriate — and in territory better avoided entirely.
But another point I want to make about this is an even broader one — one Kristen Soltis, Katie Pavlich and I discussed this week on PJTV’s “Washington Watch.” On the show, Katie talked about the warped (liberal) tendency to reverse childhood and adulthood — to encourage children to grow up too fast and then to excuse adults from personal responsibility. This spread is representative of that. Don’t you just know the people who would defend these photos would probably find nothing immature about 26-year-old “kids” remaining on their parents’ health insurance? (Just to be clear, that’s not to say everybody who thinks extending parental health insurance to 26-year-olds would be OK with these photos — I trust the vast majority of people find these anything-but-edgy and way over the line.)
Finally, the Mothers’ Union called out Blondeau’s modeling agency, but her parents bear far more responsibility than the agency, the photographer or the editor, just as parents bear far more responsibility for childhood obesity epidemics and the like. Societal disapprobation of irresponsible parenting and neighborly intervention ought to be so strong as to render state intervention unnecessary. In a case like this one, though, I tend to agree with Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, who told The Daily Caller that Blondeau’s parents should be punished for allowing their child to partake in such a shoot.
“This is clearly child exploitation and her parents should be legally charged,” Nance told TheDC.
It’s so, so sad that it’s come to this.