Using Underage Models Is Awful — But Here’s Why They Do It

yasmin le bon models

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Remember the Marc Jacobs ad that featured a 17-year-old Dakota Fanning with a perfume bottle to her crotch? Remember Thylane Blondeau, the 10-year-old girl that French Vogue posed in disturbingly adult positions? The trend of using high school girls (and younger) to sell adult clothes and products is out of control.

The fashion industry has a serious problem with taking advantage of underage models. Model Yasmin Le Bon is speaking up, and she swears it’s less about sexuality and more about money.

Le Bon told British Vogue,

“I think that it is wrong that young girls are now opening shows. It’s hyped up as a discovery of the next big thing, but actually the designers are penny-pinching. … These young girls don’t get paid very much, and they don’t have the experience or the confidence to demand to be treated any differently by the industry.”

She’s referring to what Michael Kors once called the industry’s “army of children” – and the fact that we need quippy names for the phenomenon proves that it’s been going on too long.

Later in her interview, Le Bon suggests that the pressure to fit into sample sizes is even worse when it’s directed at kids. “We were slim [when I first started my career], but there was a bit more on us, and we were older,” she says. “This kind of practice doesn’t make good for business.”

According to a 2012 survey conducted by the Model Alliance, 86.8 percent of fashion models under 26 years old had been asked to pose nude, and 64.1 percent had been asked to lose weight. The Council of Fashion Designers of America currently has a set of guidelines that attempts to keep models under 16 from walking runways, but no similar rules apply to print modeling.

These young models deserve better, and the industry needs to step up and stop making excuses.

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    • Muggle

      Young teenagers also fit into the ‘sample sizes’ better, too. They’re the perfect model shape because they’ve grown UP but haven’t had the time to grow OUT.

      Of course as they do get older and develop a bit more, they face intense pressure to stay the way they were. I remember seeing a documentary about insane beauty standards, it featured a girl who was a very popular model at all of 12 years old. Her career didn’t last long. The guy making the documentary caught up with her at 14 or 15 and while she was still thin, she was a bit more filled-out and athletic, but nobody wanted her on the runway anymore.

      It’s disgusting.