Highly sexualized photos of 10-year-old Parisian preteen Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau reclining on leopard print pillows and pouting her rouged lips has reignited the debate over the sexualization of young girls.
Wearing makeup, high heels and haute couture, Blondeau looks nothing like your typical 10-year-old girl.
The adolescent model reportedly hit the runway for Jean-Paul Gauthier at age 5 and has lived her young life in the midst of the high fashion world, gracing the covers of numerous magazines and fronting several campaigns.
She is already drawing comparisons to sixties siren Brigitte Bardot, who appeared in ELLE at the age of 15.
Born in the Ivory Coast, Blondeau is the daughter of actress and television presenter Veronika Loubry and former French international soccer player Patrick Blondeau.
Blondeau's seductive photographs in the latest issue of Vogue Paris, which was guest-edited by designer Tom Ford, provoked concern that she is part of a growing -- and disturbing -- trend of sexualizing girls at too young an age.
"This isn't edgy. It's inappropriate, and creepy, and I never want to see a 10-year-old girl in high-heeled leopard print bedroom slippers ever again," wrote Chloe Angyal, editor of Feministing.com.
"The research clearly shows that the fashion industry affects girls' and women's images of themselves and their self-esteem if they do not meet the industry 'image' that is currently in vogue," Paul Miller, an associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University, told ABC.
"Even the very young are quite conscious of media images of what is 'pretty' and desirable," Miller added.
"We have grave concerns about the modeling agency who represents Blondeau, which clearly does not know if it represents a child or an adult," the Daily Mail quoted a spokesperson for Mothers' Union as saying.
"Photo shoots requiring her, a 10-year-old-girl, to dress in full make-up, teetering heels and a dress with a cleavage cut to the waist across her pre-pubescent body deny Blondeau the right to be the child she is," the spokesperson added.
Blondeau's Tumbler account - which was not associated with Vogue and featured additional photographs including one of her posing topless on a bed - appears to have been taken down.
Blondeau's Facebook page has posted several articles about the controversy, asking questions like, "What do you guys think?"
One person responds:
"I do not understand how boys / men dare to hit the "like" button. For me, it feels as if everyone here is pedophile... if my dad liked this page I would snap him! Its soo wrooong."
While another says:
"If u understand fashion, if u appreciate good taste, if u feel like a new star might born, then u could hit "like". It's nothing erotic in that, dont u think?"
While Blondeau may be one of the youngest, she is certainly not the first young starlet to stir up the sexualization debate. In 2007, a 13-year-old Dakota Fanning posed in a controversial campaign for Marc Jacobs. Currently, her 13-year-old sister Elle Fanning is following in her footsteps as the face of Jacob's Fall 2011 campaign.
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