Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Are You Being Serious?

Reading earlier today of Cindy Crawford's decision to let her 10 year old daughter become the face of Young Versace's debut ad campaign, I was reminded of an article I wrote a couple of months ago for my university newspaper. The article was a reaction against Marc Jacob's scandalous advert for his 'Lola' perfume, and the arguable sexualisation of child stars; the recent campaign for Young Versace, using Kaia Gerber (Crawford's daughter) brings similar sentiments to mind.
'Scandal and fashion: two words that have always been synonymous. Galliano’s racist slur; Naomi in her furs; size zero models; and not least Cocaine Kate. However, as Marc Jacobs was forced to chuck his ‘Lola’ perfume ad, featuring a 17 year old Dakota Fanning holding a perfume bottle between her legs, the world has had to acknowledge that this scandal is a little seedier.

In recent years there have been frequent protests against the sexualisation of children, a debate that came to a head when Primark was forced to withdraw its padded bras and bikini tops for children as young as seven. Today, the scandal rages on with the Marc Jacobs advert branded ‘sexually provocative’ and accused of ‘sexualising children’: an accusation that the ad definitely achieved. A blonde, young- looking Dakota Fanning leans back with a provocative look in her eyes, and an enlarged perfume bottle clutched between her legs. The tag line reads ‘Oh, Lola!’ an arguable reference to Nabokov’s paedophilic classic ‘Lolita’; Dakota’s pink, translucent chiffon dress and blonde hair could have been lifted directly from the text.

So what prompted Marc Jacobs to believe for a second that such an advert would be acceptable? In this case, it has to be said that the roots of this scandal are part of a deeper malaise, a complaint that is affecting the fashion industry as a whole. It can be argued that the sexualisation of child stars within fashion has become so common place that it is now unremarkable. The perfume ad may have been taken down, but this month Dakota and her 13 year old sister Elle are featured in countless fashion magazines, including Vogue, and front the December edition of W Magazine. Are they wearing clothes meant for children? No, they are wearing this season’s most expensive couture: Chanel, Valentino, Dior. Undoubtedly beautiful, but should they really be worn by children? These clothes are designed and produced with a woman’s body in mind; to flaunt it, adorn it and especially to celebrate it. However, by putting a 13 year old and a 17 year old in such clothes embodies them with the same sexuality as that of a woman, giving them the same sexual appeal.

There is one image in December’s W magazine that haunts me the most. Elle Fanning pouts prettily in a figure hugging, low cut Rodarte sequined gown, her chest only just covered by flimsy panels of chiffon. This child star is 13 years old, and yet she looks about ten years older; of all the scandals currently rocking the fashion industry, it has to be said that this is the most shameful. Hopefully, with the uproar that the disastrous Marc Jacobs ad and the Primark bras have caused, there will be soon a widespread realisation that the sexualisation of children and child stars is not okay. Our fondest memories of childhood are often the most innocent: splashing through puddles in your wellies; covering yourself in mud building dens and ripping your clothes climbing the tallest tree. Only when the fashion industry realises that such memories are more precious than any Valentino dress will it stop dressing children up in such provocative clothing.'

The same argument can be applied to this current campaign. Although Kaia is wearing clothes designed for children, and Elle was styled in outfits far too mature for her, in my mind the Versace ad is in no way better than that of Marc Jacob's 'Lola'. Kaia looks not one of her ten years, and can be seen as at least double her true age. The wide legged pose, hips askew in a super short skirt, seems to me to be an incredibly sexualised image; furthermore, although as a ten year old Kaia has no female curves to display, is there much difference between this shot and that of a super skinny adult model?

She's ten, for God's sake. Let her have a real childhood.

Crawford picture and story from:

Fanning picture from:

No comments:

Post a Comment