Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau‘s photographs have sparked quite the debate about what’s appropriate for a young girl when appearing in advertisements. Even though the 10-year-old is by far the youngest in a slew of popular ads, she is certainly not alone. A few young girls such as 13-year-old Elle Fanning and 14-year-old Hailee Steinfield have been cast as the muses for Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu respectively. But why are children suddenly been chosen as beauty ideals?
Marc Jacobs’ Elle Fanning campaign depicts her in various states of surprise and coyness. Taking on her viewer with big, doll-like eyes, Elle is also presented as clutching her chest with a very demure, yet forlorn expression. In another shot, she poses most stoically with heart-shaped glass and a fur coat. Elle is clearly a very photogenic and striking girl, but the context in which her youth is being captured should raise some eyebrows with parents. By aligning her big eyes and child-like vulnerability with the statement of the brand, Marc Jacobs & Co are essentially idealizing, and therefore fetishizing the the beauty of children.
The same argument can be made for Miss Hailee Steinfield’s ads, which illustrate her hugging a purse to her face and smiling among a bed of glittery shoes. Although a teenager, the Miu Miu ads are focusing and highlighting her more tender exuberance and child-like engagement with the brand. The fashion industry is notoriously and shamelessly obsessed with youth, but these ads present a different trend as Elle and Hailee’s disposition and appearance as children, not as women, are being deemed fashionable — even enviable.
I wouldn’t consider either of the aforementioned ads to be sexually explicit, but I strongly question the ethics behind making children the face of ad campaigns geared toward adults. Why are we be lured into handbag and accessory purchases by the beauty of children?