Monday, August 8, 2011

Kidulthood

Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau has caused quite a stir lately following her rather provocative photo shoot for Vogue magazine in which she was made up in skimpy clothes and thick make-up to resemble a model who could easily pass for much older than the 10 years she is in reality.

Family campaigners are up in arms about this needless and premature sexualisation of children and are working on an initiative with the government to restrict advertising and media of this nature.

Many of the BDT gang are appalled by the photos which resulted from this shoot, many of them being mothers themselves they are fearful of the free presentation of such a young child in this way but it always pays to look from both sides of the fence doesn’t it.

How many girls when they were little used to dress up in their mothers clothes and put on her heels and perfume and jewellery? Scores of little girls over the generations have played grown-ups and tried to make themselves look older, it’s no big deal and no one scowls at them for it, it’s just that usually they don’t have stylists and make-up artists to help them but really, is there a vast difference between playing grown-ups with your friends and doing it for a magazine?

And what about the thousands of little girls who DO have stylists and make-up artists (aka Mum/Mom) who doll them up for competing in beauty pageants? A quick Google for ‘child beauty pageants’ reveals an endless stream of Barbie lookalike pre-tweens who’ve spent their childhoods perfecting their posture, smiles and learning that if anyone asks you what you want most in life, the answer is ALWAYS ‘World Peace’. The sexualisation of these infants is no different to that of Thylane in her Vogue shoot, it’s just a little more pretty princess in a castle and a little less animal print chaise lounge in a boudoir.

And finally, what about the families who flock to Hollywood each and every year with their mini-me’s in the hope of securing them a glittering future in showbiz and a life of luxury? A new documentary begins on Channel 4 tomorrow detailing the lives of budding child actors, many of whom live with their families in temporary furnished accommodation such as the Oakwood Apartments during the ‘pilot season’ (spring – when casting is done for pilots of new series’). If these children are successful they will be thrust into a celebrity world they’re not prepared for and have little means of controlling and this can be severely damaging to their experience of growing up, you just need to look at the likes of Michael Jackson or Drew Barrymore to substantiate that theory.

So whilst Thylane’s photo shoot is indeed controversial and people are justified in their disapproval or disgust at it, it may be prudent to cast the net of judgement a little wider and appreciate that this is simply one of many examples of what could be considered exploitation and sexualisation of our children. As far as the latter goes, it’s certainly not the worst example which has ever come to light but does prove once again that this is no laughing matter and that our children need to be protected against their adulthood until they’re mature enough to understand it and decide what they want to do with it.

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