I’m Too Sexy for My Age: The Growing Trend of Preteen Models

One of my Facebook friends recently posted something that brought me back to the silly exuberance that marked the pop music of my childhood. And all the focus I’ve been giving to the modeling world over the last few weeks brought this particular music video’s gentle jab at the fashion industry to a heightened hilarity. I challenge you not to laugh:

Ah, but seriously, the British band Right Said Fred is doing here what the Brits do so well, sarcastically mocking the slightly disturbing aspects of society that we might otherwise take as being somehow normal.

It’s funny to laugh at the culture of adult models, for sure. But what about the growing trend in preteen runway models? Not quite so funny anymore… Well, at least not to someone like me who has a daughter rapidly approaching those years that precariously straddle the great divide between childhood and maturity.

An article posted a few days ago on Slate asks the question “When and why did high fashion models get so young?” The answer, they say, is complex, but boils down to the fact that

“Global competition among talent scouts and the growing field of aspiring models have led to a fierce need to snag the next hot thing before anyone else does. The result is that girls get discovered sooner and flame out more quickly. In fact, given the history of the business over the last 40 years or so, it seems inevitable that we would have ended up with prepubescents on the runway.”

Really, I don’t think this would have concerned me so much had I thought about it before I had my own little girl to raise. Not like it does now. I might have thought it wasn’t a great thing, and generally agreed that the culture of modeling probably isn’t very good for girls so young to be exposed to. But it strikes me how much my attitude around this stuff is changing because I have a daughter. Now something like this puts me on high alert—and actually makes me angry.

Have you had the opportunity to care for a girl since babyhood, whether she’s your own child, a niece, or a friend’s daughter? If so, have you experienced a heightened interest and emotional charge around this kind of thing? And what, if anything, do you do about an apparently growing cultural trend like this?

2 thoughts on “I’m Too Sexy for My Age: The Growing Trend of Preteen Models

  1. I’m in the same boat with a young daughter, Meg! Little girls modeling age appropriate clothing doesn’t concern me – but when makeup and clothing make preteens look older, that does not feel right to me. Childhood is such a fleeting time. Why does our culture seem to want to accelerate it? Great blog!

    • Good point Mary! I agree, age appropriate modelling is fine. Fashion is fun and can be a great art form! It’s the way this trend influences young girls (the models and any who view them) to start seeing themselves as sexual objects at such a young age that’s so disturbing. Even if they don’t understand what they are acting out or mimicking from adult models, it influences the way they will learn to express themselves and what will draw attention to them.

      Thank you for your response!

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