These are not posters for the NSPCC, but fashion shots selling couture to grown women.
There has been much talk of the sexualistion of children, of dressing them more modestly to deter pedophiles. Of banning padded bras and stopping the intense marketing of cosmetics to increasingly younger consumers. Whilst I am in favour of retailers being held to account over such vile marketing and tacky products, I have been deep in thought this week pondering the beauty ideal persistently promoted by the media and how this in turn promotes the sexualistaion of very young girls. Are we further sexualising children by promoting a pre pubescent ideal to women, through constant media images of thin as the beauty ideal?
Small hips and breasts, thin thighs and tiny waists are all pretty standard catwalk requirements and like haute couture, represent a high ideal in the beauty industry. Although the models like the clothes are otherworldly, their aesthetic filters down into the mainstream and in turn many a female gazes up. Its unobtainable quality adds to its desirability.
Shape GB, the first ever national sizing survey of children, cites the average waist for an 11 year old British girl as 27 inches. Considering fashion models average 23/23 inches, many children have surpassed the given beauty ideal by the time they hit puberty. This is why, until recently. many models were under 16. Parents may worry that their children are being encouraged to grow up too quickly, whilst they in turn are terrified of losing their childlike frames. Looking like a child is increasingly being equated with sexual attractiveness and this is far more worrying than the headline grabbing padded bra. Constant images, unlike a few saleable products, cannot be removed from the shelves. They seep into our consciousness from an early age and may take generations to undo.
The model in the photos above is over eighteen .