Things I Should Be Over That I’m Not: Teenage Supermodels

Look, I know that pretty much all models are like nine years old. Or fifteen. Whatever. But honestly? I’m not over it. And I’m not over it for a couple of reasons.

1. It’s really weird that our society flips the fuck out over the most minor, inconsequential, and often imagined sexualization of girls (holla, Miley Cyrus), and yet an entire industry thrives on mostly naked teens strutting down aisles having their pictures taken and slapped all over international magazines.

2. It’s also really weird to look at girls that I consider still borderline children and have them so idolized for their beauty. Like this chick at left, Lindsey Wixson, 16. I’m not saying that she’s not beautiful — she obviously is. But she’s not even out of high school, you guys!

I mean, even as I write this I feel like a total fuddy-duddy. Like, “oh, these girls are too young, wah wah wah.” But it’s just very hypocritical, as a society that completely panics when girls start acting at all sexual that somehow models — because they’re…so pretty? — are exempt from the things that apply to other teens. I say, either let teens do what they want and let them own their own sexuality, or don’t. But this halfway shit doesn’t fly with me.

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    • Lia

      I think it might have a bit to do with the relative anonymity of models, versus the more “personal” (if you can really term it that) relationship society believes we have with celebrities. When young women are sauntering down runways, they’re relatively nameless and identity-less, and their primary job is to promote the clothing and conceptual objectives of the designer. When celebrities do *anything*, they’re doing so under their own name, to a nearly surreal extent. You see, it’s fine when female sexuality is used abstractly and anonymously to convey someone else’s message, but it’s amoral and wrong when a women has autonomy over her own sexuality and the way in which it is used.

    • Eileen

      I sort of agree with Lia, but I’d like to add that we don’t know how old most models are (at least off the tops of our heads); teenaged models are often used even by women’s magazines to portray women in their mid-twenties. I had a good friend who posed for Cosmopolitan – just the photo that went next to articles like “Can you trust his ‘work girlfriend’?” or “Guys: Why she doesn’t feel like having sex” – at fifteen, but she was clearly being marketed as twenty-five or so. The same is true of models on runways: They may be underage, but we don’t know that they are and they aren’t giving any indication that they are. Teenaged celebrities, on the other hand – such as Miley Cyrus, as you point out – have often marketed themselves as young girls in the not-so-distant past. We know exactly how old these young women are, whom they’re dating, who their parents are, etc: we have an attachment; we remember these women as girls, unlike models, whom we’ve only ever seen as young women (my mother’s opinions about what’s appropriate for an abstract twenty-something woman and what’s appropriate for her daughter specifically are not necessarily the same).