“I’ll Take ‘Things That Are Not Right For $1,000,’ Alex.”

Update:  I’ve attached a belated follow-up to the very thoughtful comment thread below the jump. Thanks to all who contributed to that thread, and apologies for taking this long before returning to the discussion.

Via my friend, science writer (The Carbon Age) and twitterer Eric Roston (@eroston) I just learned of the Tom Ford-edited issue of French Vogue featuring fashion-porn pictures of female child models.*

The girls are real children — one is said to be six years old — presented in the clothes, makeup and poses that suggest the sexual agency and availability of much older women.

Beyond a kind of weary sorrow/rage at the thought that someone’s going there yet again, the pictures crystallized for me the feeling that’s been taking shape all week as I’ve thought about Ross Douthat’s now well-covered foolishness in his recent column on adoption and abortion.

Lots of people (see my last post on this for a very partial selection of links) have pointed out the obvious about that piece. Recall that Douthat’s “argument” was that evil of abortion could be seen in the way it constrains the supply of  livestock babies sought by wealthy child-poor couples.  That’s a view that instrumentalizes both (poor) women and the children they are supposed to produce to satisfy that family-acquisition impulse.  The mothers and their infants become means to others’ ends.

Ford and Vogue make similar use of their subjects.  The girls, dressed and made-up in haute hooker chic, are toys — dolls, really — onto which a viewer is supposed to project … whatever.

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Those photographs suggest erotic presence, but they depict kids, after all, and in these images, like the babies and women Douthat would bend to the service of other women, those children cease to be actual individuals.**  Instead, they become blank canvases on which others paint their own aims and desires, with the requisite ugly twist on the word, “desire.”

The bottom line?  To put it in the syntax of Jeopardy,  I’d ask:  “What is the fact that both Douthat and Ford/Vogue think it’s OK to diminish the people that are women and or children into anonymous, interchangeable objects”  And with that I’d win the category that answers:

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Things that are not right.

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I’ll close with a bit of science fiction geekery.  A long time ago I read what still seems to me one of the best of dystopic visions of our commodified and manipulated future, John Brunner’s The Shockwave Rider. It holds up remarkably well, and in my own idiosyncratic sequencing of such things, it seems to me that it should be thought of as one of the founding texts of cyberpunk.

Brunner’s story can be read as a kind of pilgrim’s progress, in which more than one character is coaxed to the realization that (in my bad, from-memory paraphrase of the book’s ending) the operational definition of the concept of evil was the use of another human being as a thing.

That notion is the source of my disgust with Douthat, and my loathing for whatever it was that passed for thought in Ford/Vogue‘s decision to peddle some kiddie porn.

And as for what I’d do about it?

__

This, of course.  I’m a free speech fundamentalist, or pretty close to it, and I believe that the best response to grotesque speech is to point out its wens and warts, which I have here tried to do.

And on that cheerful note…goodnight, y’all.  Better dreams.

*The link is to BoingBoing, through which you can dive as deep as the ‘net lets you now into this particular wading pool.

**In case it’s not obvious, can I say here that the issue is not with the idea of fashion photography and/or erotic tensions and meanings in images.  It’s the six year old problem: the fact that little kids do not possess the agency to figure out whether the process of being turned into any particular image is OK by and for them.  Clear?  (Obviously, there is a lot more to think and say here, but it’s late, and this is a blog post, not a monograph…and this is why we have comment threads.)

Image: Dirck van Baburen, The Procuress, 1622.

First — thanks to all.  I spat this out in haste last night, and it describes a reaction more felt than thought, and the comment thread offers the corrective I hoped it would to what I think is my incoherence.

Most important, I realize I didn’t think all the way through the argument.  I agree with those who’ve pointed out that Ford =/ Douthat, and for that matter, pictures of little girls in age-inappropriate costumes and poses =/ baby brokering.  If there is a link — and I think there is, still, it is that both Douthat’s writing and Ford’s images reduce women and girls to attributes.  But still, I think that what I was trying to say could have been better said with a focus on the Vogue spread itself.

There, as a number of commenters pointed out sexualized images of child models have a history (see e.g. Mike Kay at comment 15) — and as J. Michael Neal points out at number 5 and Debbie does at comment 55, Ford may very well be attempting critical comment on that history and on the habits of fashion photography.

But that still doesn’t resolve my sense of dread as I look at this pictures, and I think that reaction derives from two interwoven thoughts.  The first is that objects like these photos shape social relations.  I look at these photos and see this:  to be female, of any age, is to be an object, a vessel for other’s desires and intentions.  I recognize that there are other ways to interpret what’s going on here– but it is the kiddiness of the images that tip the balance for me.

The second is that context matters.  The spread’s presence in Vogue cuts both ways.  Given who reads that pre-eminent women’s book, the notion that this is criticism carries weight, as I’m not sure how much an audience of couture-fascinated women are going to see six year olds playing dress-up as objects of desire.  On the other hand – these kids are selling stuff, clothes and style, and it is the leap from stuff to selves that makes me very queasy.

I don’t know how many of you have read Andrew Vachss.  His novels – I’ve only read ones in the Burke series – center on horrific stories of child abuse and worse.  He emphasizes over and over again what should be obvious:  children don’t have agency when adults sexualize them.

That’s what makes me very, very wary of  even well made, ironic, fashion-tradition hedged images like the one’s here.

So, in response to all the well-thought criticism of what may be an unfair juxtaposition of Ford and Douthat, I think the commenters who point to the real differences between the two are onto something, and if I were to write this piece again, I’d focus just on what bothers me with these pictures, rather than trying to tease out this comparison.

I’m older than I once was, as Paul Simon says.  Fifty two and counting.  I have a young kid of my own.  I can imagine (though not really remember) myself as a twenty-something journalist in New York thinking that Ford’s images (Calvin Klein’s back then, actually) were pure transgressive art, full stop.  (I never bought into Douthat’s intellectual pathology, thank FSM.)  But I’m not that mostly notional young pup any more, and for all that I can see the artfulness in those photographs, I can’t get over my sense that these pictures help us make strangers of each other — and of the most vulnerable among us.






76 replies
  1. 1

    Oh god. I feel as if I’ve aged a decade just by looking at the one pic. And, then I read the comments, and I felt even worse about the people who were snickering or pooh-poohing. This and child beauty pageants and such really starkly say what we (and not just Americans) really think women are–commodities.

    I couldn’t even click on the rest of the pics. I know it would enrage me and make me incredibly sad at the same time.

  2. 2
    suzanne says:

    But sexism is DEAD, Tom! Didn’t you get the memo?!

    That six-year-old is asking for it! Men are the real victims!

    Vomit.

  3. 3
    burnspbesq says:

    How quickly they forget. Does the name Jon-Benet Ramsey ring any bells?

    Seeing this stuff from the inside is even creepier. The kid has been dancing since age five. The way they tart up these itty bitty girls for competitions is … shudder.

  4. 4

    @burnspbesq: I haven’t forgotten her at all. Tbogg linked to this gem, and I couldn’t laugh at all.

  5. 5
    J. Michael Neal says:

    It’s not even sexy. It’s some weird parody of sexy. I have no idea what the intent was, but the only way it makes any sense is that it is lampooning the whole idea of fashion photography and showing how empty it is.

    I dunno. That’s all I’ve got, except some anger.

  6. 6
    cmorenc says:

    Um…I agree with the critique that he’s proposing forced commoditization of infants as a substitute for abortion. I also agree that use of child models intentionally dressed/made up to appear sexually slutty is a sick form of commercial pornography, especially when used by the fashion industry.

    Nevertheless, trying to link these two things thematically together is a stretch, and attempting to thereby tie Douthat’s notions to pornographic exploitation of children in the manner Vogue is accused of is completely untenable and without any convincing credibility to the vast majority of people, me included. Frankly, the argument you’re making linking the two is complete bullshit to me, and I’m on your side on each of the two separate issues at hand.

    I’m no fan of Douthat at all; he’s a douche-bag of conservative hangups parading as a humane conservative intellectual. But of one thing I can predict with certainty, regardless of whether or when Douthat ever gets around to addressing the Vogue child-model pictures in question; he would be even more firmly disgusted and against them than the most ardent feminist. He would be on the side of protecting the children. The problem with Douthat and his notions of abortion vs commoditized adoption is his unwillingness to see the monstrous implications of his proposals, so blinded he is by the superficial notion that he’s come up with a win-win solution for all three parties involved (bio mother, fetus, would-be adoptive parents).

  7. 7
    The Dangerman says:

    I don’t get it; I’ll give it a pass only because perhaps there is something cultural I’m missing (the French aren’t all pervs, are they?). That which I saw (I sampled a few) did nothing for me; don’t see the art, but … I’m an old fart, I guess. I also don’t get tats (at 6′ 7″, I’ve played more than my fair share of ball, and some of these tat jobs on today’s ballers are horrendous).

  8. 8
    Church Lady says:

    You can bitch and moan about Tom Ford/French Vogue all you want, and I’ll be right there with you, but most of my outrage is reserved for the parents of these children. What the hell is wrong with them?

    Objectifying your child (heck, any child) sexually is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

  9. 9
    Yutsano says:

    @Church Lady: I have a feeling some idiot agent convinced the parents it would be a good thing for their childrens’ careers because, well, it’s TOM FORD!! But I agree with you, there are limits to what children should be doing, especially when it comes to being photographed. Unless Ford is showing solidarity with Roman Polanski. Then that’s just creepy on so many levels.

  10. 10
    suzanne says:

    @The Dangerman: I could actually see these as somewhat intriguing examples of art photography if they weren’t in a fashion magazine or other commercialized context.

    But art or no, this is a pretty fucked-up thing in which to allow one’s children to participate.

  11. 11
    cmorenc says:

    @The Dangerman

    I don’t get it; I’ll give it a pass only because perhaps there is something cultural I’m missing (the French aren’t all pervs, are they?). That which I saw (I sampled a few) did nothing for me; don’t see the art, but … I’m an old fart, I guess. I also don’t get tats (at 6’ 7”, I’ve played more than my fair share of ball, and some of these tat jobs on today’s ballers are horrendous).

    I’m confused; what is it you “don’t get” about a fashion magazine for adults using photos of 6 and 7 year old girls deliberately dressed and posing with an unmistakable “FUCK ME” sort of look? There shouldn’t be any requisite to be hetro or French either one in order for the intended effect of the photos to be blindingly obvious. “Art” is no defense to predatory sickness, whether for personal pleasure or commercial advantage.

  12. 12
    eastriver says:

    I don’t see what the big deal is. I have an almost-eight year-old girl. When she was four she was waaaaay hotter than that floozy on the couch.

    Damn. Wrong answer, right?

  13. 13
    Uloborus says:

    No. I completely disagree here, Tom. In fact, I disagree for the same reason I disagree with Doubt Hats. The issue here is the damage to *people* versus a nice sounding ideal. If these girls are being damaged by their parents manipulating them into a job that makes them feel unappreciated as people, that’s bad, but who knows? The pictures themselves are pictures. You can’t objectify an object, and if people use these pictures to justify their opinion of women or children they are Doodlehats and that’s their failure. The odds that these pictures themselves will damage the child in the future? I can’t even imagine it. You don’t have to like the tastefulness of the pictures or the art involved. Your art tastes are also immaterial – one person is not the standard for humanity.

    The only issue of importance here is whether or not the modeling job hurts the child. *Real people* rather than constructs of what sounds like right or wrong.

  14. 14
    The Dangerman says:

    @cmorenc:

    I’m confused; what is it you “don’t get” about a fashion magazine for adults using photos of 6 and 7 year old girls deliberately dressed and posing with an unmistakable “FUCK ME” sort of look?

    No, what I don’t get is why people would want it to be done with their children or what the market would be that drove it (other than the blindingly obvious as you state); as previous, I can’t condemn, as I hope that I’m missing something because of cultural issues. Just trying to be fair.

    I don’t get why someone in Colorado would dress up JBR in such costumes, either, but … well, I’ll leave that tragedy alone.

  15. 15
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    this is a shock-jock thing they do in fashion advertising every 10 to 15 years.

    calvin klien did it in the mid 90s and I remember how brooke shields was used this way in the late 70s. in fact, Shields first “big” role was a 12 year old hooker in louie malle’s “pretty baby”.

  16. 16
    Peter says:

    @J. Michael Neal: This is the only way that Ford/Vogue can walk away from this with even a little bit of dignity intact. Even if that’s the intent, though, it’s still super-super sleazy.

    That said, I think the link to Douthat is pretty weak. Even if they have similar results in a broad philosophical sense, the way they reach those results is too different to invite comparison.

    If you want to turn your stomach, though, tune into TLC for Toddlers and Tiaras. Absolutely horrifying.

  17. 17
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    @eastriver: Roman Polanski wants to know if your daughter would like to take a screen test.

  18. 18
    wag says:

    @Church Lady:

    Objectifying your child (heck, any child) sexually is just wrong, wrong, wrong

    Um, I think that is the entire point of the Tom ford photo shoot. I think it is meant as a SATIRE of our culture’s view of youth.

    Sometimes siatire is so subtle as to be mistaken for the real thing

    Then again, maybe tom Ford is just a pedophile. But I doubt it.

  19. 19
    Amir_Khalid says:

    I remember my reaction to the picture of Jon-Benet Ramsey in make-up: I said to myself, “This must be what child-molesters see when they look at little kids.” I also wondered what the hell was up with her parents, that they would put her up for this kind of thing.

    Maybe Vogue’s intent was indeed to satirize how sex appeal is used to sell fashion. But it would backfire — for me, and for a whole lot of other people — because of that reaction that I had to it.

    Where, if anywhere, is the line between that (or, say, Martin Scorsese dressing up the 12-year-old Jodie Foster as a hooker) and the intentional, pitchfork-worthy exploitation of kids in sexualized images?

  20. 20
  21. 21
    eemom says:

    This subject is unspeakable. Not in the sense that it shouldn’t be spoken of seriously; but it is far, far, beyond any bloggeresque late-night snark.

  22. 22

    @Amir_Khalid: Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction. If it’s satire, it’s widely off the mark. If it’s not–it’s just sick.

  23. 23
    Yutsano says:

    @Amir_Khalid:

    Where, if anywhere, is the line between that (or, say, Martin Scorsese dressing up the 12-year-old Jodie Foster as a hooker) and the intentional, pitchfork-worthy exploitation of kids in sexualized images?

    Well FWIW Scorsese got a lot of flak for that too. Even though he was going for the realism of child prostitution which required using a real child. It’s considered bold and artistic now, but when it came out it was highly controversial. But Ford is gonna have to do a lot of explaining of his intent here or he’s just a child pornographer in all but name.

  24. 24
    Uloborus says:

    @Amir_Khalid:
    It’s at the same place where where the line between the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is and making gay porn. I don’t care if you think (as I do) that there’s nothing wrong with gay porn (and everything wrong with child porn). They’re still totally different, but the dividing line is going to seem like it’s in a different place to everyone. Sex is art and always has been. The human body is art and always has been. Nude photography of children was common in Victorian times and they’d have been shocked if you thought it was sexual. Your standards and the things you find disturbing are not universal, or necessarily even common. American society is terrified of pedophiles or any hint of it, and the rest of the world finds that as weird the rest of our puritan obsessions (although I’m told Australia’s just as bad).

    I’m making no judgments on THIS PICTORIAL, but there was nothing even especially sexual in that one picture. She was dressed like an adult fashion model.

    EDIT – Incidentally, I object to child beauty pageants. Why? Because it’s invited a culture of abusive parents who use their children to satisfy their own fragile egos. Not because it’s some kind of meat market for a mythical culture of pedophiles.

  25. 25
    The Dangerman says:

    @Uloborus:

    …but there was nothing even especially sexual in that one picture.

    Didn’t miss much in the other pics (I saw 3 or 4, not all, so cut me some slack if I missed something overt).

  26. 26
    maus says:

    I don’t really see this as sexual. I see it as a lot more “playing grown-up dress-up” than child beauty pageant, really. I don’t know, is it wrong that it doesn’t creep me out? It’s obviously not my bag, but these are not hooker/whore poses, just kids looking “fierce”.

  27. 27
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    well, they’ve succeeded in getting the attention they were seeking. sarah palin couldn’t have done a better job.

  28. 28

    I did look at the rest of the pics, and I have to revise my opinion. The pics just made me incredibly sad because they had little girls mimicking what is acceptable in (barely) older girls who do model. It still has an ick factor for me because they are six and seven and the suggestion is sexual, though, I would agree the poses aren’t, but I wouldn’t say it’s porn. Still, it’s disturbing (and not in a ‘gee, look, we’re poking fun at modeling’ kind of way) to me. It still speaks to me of how we (our society and others) make women’s bodies (and girls’ bodies) commodities first and foremost.

  29. 29
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    O.T.

    Looks like President Obama has some Colonel Kilgore in him.

    http://cache.daylife.com/image.....p/610x.jpg

    “charlie don’t surf!”

  30. 30
    Yutsano says:

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff): Continuing the OT, but dayum that SS guy on the left is kinda cute.

  31. 31
    The Dangerman says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    It still speaks to me of how we (our society and others) make women’s bodies (and girls’ bodies) commodities first and foremost.

    Cuts both ways, sadly (what’s that guy from Jersey Shore that is known for his six-pack abs?). As long as women will do what it takes to get on the cover of a magazine (or get the film role or whatever) and as long as there is a public that will pay for the product (i.e. don’t buy Vogue and let them know why you’re not buying Vogue), it won’t get any better. Supply and demand; everything comes down to economics in the end.

  32. 32
    Amir_Khalid says:

    @maus: Sure, kids can play grownup dressing up games, and grownups can even take pictures of them looking adorable while doing that. That part is fine.

    What bothers a lot of us here is that little girls are shown wearing grown-woman makeup and striking what look to us like come-hither poses. And that an adult got them to do that, for a magazine intended to be read by adults. Do you really not see the age-inappropriate sexuality in these pictures?

  33. 33
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    @Yutsano: yeah, I hear he packs a big gun.

  34. 34
    Gustopher says:

    They’re dressed like models from how many decades ago? Not that I would want them to, but they really aren’t showing much skin, and there’s much more of a suggestion of creepiness than anything actually disturbing.

    I’ve seen way creepier things in American Apparel ads.

    I think the photographer hit the mark perfectly in getting an emotional reaction and making a statement about fashion photography. Making people object, but not actually doing anything very objectionable.

  35. 35
    Batocchio says:

    Creepy photos. Ford should stick to consenting adults.

    I haven’t read that Brunner novel, but I’ve liked the others I’ve read. I’m currently about halfway through Iain Banks’ latest.

  36. 36

    @Uloborus:

    The only issue of importance here is whether or not the modeling job hurts the child. Real people rather than constructs of what sounds like right or wrong.

    Or whether that modeling job contributes to harming other children, who are also real people.

  37. 37
    Steeplejack says:

    @Batocchio:

    Surface Detail? I had a mixed reaction. I always like entering Banks’s big universe, but this one seemed a little plodding and meandering. And the grinding dystopian was a little, er, grindingly dystopian. But maybe I caught it at an off time (for me).

  38. 38
    Sirkowski says:

    Just because you don’t get the joke doesn’t mean it’s not funny.

  39. 39
    Steeplejack says:

    Lemme, see, I’ll take the one on page 3 . . . Oh, wait, you say I’m not at that double-secret white slavery club for billionaire pervs? Well, then, I’ll just have a club soda with a dash of bitters. Ahem. Kato, bring the car around. We ride for the capital tonight!

  40. 40
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    I think the photo spread would have been better had the children been Iraqi and missing limbs.

  41. 41
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    Interestingly, the same issue seems to contain pics of seniors in suggestive poses.

    No idea what he’s thinking. But ecchhh.

  42. 42
    Lysana says:

    @Zuzu’s Petals:

    Interestingly, the same issue seems to contain pics of seniors in suggestive poses.

    I think those shots are fantastic. Guess what; you’ll be doing the same damn thing at that age if you’re lucky. I sure intend to be.

    As for the children… (goes to look) two of them are in flirtatious poses, the rest are not. NONE of them are pornographic. Some of you are reading way too much into them.

    BTW, Tom, while I may disagree that the child model shots are on the same level as Douthat’s piece, you get so many points for invoking Shockwave Rider with me.

  43. 43
    R-Jud says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Cuts both ways, sadly (what’s that guy from Jersey Shore that is known for his six-pack abs?). As long as women will do what it takes to get on the cover of a magazine (or get the film role or whatever) and as long as there is a public that will pay for the product (i.e. don’t buy Vogue and let them know why you’re not buying Vogue), it won’t get any better. Supply and demand; everything comes down to economics in the end.

    Half-right. There’s a long legal and cultural history of treating women and girls like property or chattel, which we’ve only started turning our backs on in the last hundred years or so. The lingering assumption that women are less than fully human by dint of being female makes a lot of this stuff– casting couches, shoots like this– possible.

    It is sexist against women. It doesn’t “cut both ways” because one dude on a TV show (or any number of them, for that matter) chose to objectify himself. I am objectified when I go out in public simply because I’m a woman. There’s no choice in the matter, and there should be.

    @ Tom Levenson: Carine Rotfeld, the EIC of French Vogue, was suddenly and unexpectedly let go in December. This shoot is probably why.

  44. 44
    Jebediah says:

    Maybe I don’t “get it” etc. but pictures of little girls “sexied up” make me want to punch someone in the face.
    Shit. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

  45. 45
    gene108 says:

    If a guy is getting turned onto kids, I don’t think this photo spread will make a difference in whether or not he’s going to molest someone.

    It’s an interesting way to try and advertise clothing, in my opinion. A different way to get eye balls onto a page, with something slightly different.

    Maybe I’m just bad at subtle hints, but the pictures didn’t look particularly sexual. Even if adults were in the poses, the poses wouldn’t be sexual. The hot adult models would be what got me aroused.

  46. 46

    How is Ford adding anything to our cultural conversation with this photo shoot of little girls dressed up in adult attire? Hasn’t this been done to death? If anything this is just cliched tripe. Kind of surprising coming from a smart guy like Tom Ford.

  47. 47

    Tangential – agree on The Shockwave Rider. As far as I’m concerned it is the ur-cyberpunk novel (and holds up quite well). Brunner should get more attention – see also Stand on Zanzibar (and Greg Bear’s /).

  48. 48

    I’ve long said we are actually living in The Sheep Look Up courtesy of the Bush administration.

  49. 49
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    In this culture, anything for a buck, and that includes the sexual exploitation of the young big time.

    Have you looked at little girls toys and dolls lately?

    ========================

    Bratz, Wikipedia

    Bratz is an American line of fashion dolls and related merchandise manufactured by MGA Entertainment.[1] Four original 10″ dolls were released in 2001 – Cloe, Jade, Sasha, and Yasmin. They are portrayed as teenagers distinguished by large heads and skinny bodies, almond-shaped eyes adorned with eyeshadow, and lush, glossy lips.

    New concerns over the body image and lifestyle the Bratz dolls allegedly promote were raised by the American Psychological Association when they established their “Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls” in February 2007. In their published report, they cited concern over the adult-like sexuality the Bratz dolls allegedly portray.[2]

    Bratz dolls come dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings, and feather boas. Although these dolls may present no more sexualization of girls or women than is seen in MTV videos, it is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality

    – APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls[2]

    Bratz were not the only dolls to be criticized in this report,[2] which highlighted not only toys but also other products and the wider media; including the Bratz animated series.[2] In the United Kingdom a spokesman for Bratz defended the toy line by saying that Bratz are purchased by over-eights and are directed to the preteen and teen market. They are for 11-18 year old girls,[7] and that the focus on the dolls while on looks was not on sexualization and that friendship was also a key focus of Bratz dolls.[7]

    The Bratz brand, which has remained number one in the UK market for 23 consecutive months focuses core values on friendship, hair play and a ‘passion for fashion’.

    – Bratz spokesman, ‘The Daily Telegraph[7]

    The spokesman quoted Dr. Bryan Young of Exeter University as saying “parents may feel awkward but I don’t think children see the dolls as sexy. They just think they’re pretty”.[7] Isaac Larian, in comments given to the BBC, voiced the opinion that the report was a “bunch of garbage” and that the people who wrote it were acting irresponsibly.[8]

    ============================

    And have any of you watched the Disney Channel lately? It all comes down to pretty much young girls learning how to dress like a Ho, as Eddie Murphy’s Velvet Jones would have put it.

    For the “High School Musical” series, you can even buy your five year old girl padded bras and bikini panties from the show. How cool is that? Protecting Children from a Sexualized Childhood

    Here is a primo example of the sexualization of the young teen girl by Disney, in this music video produce starring Selena Gomez, one of the current stars on the channel.

    This video sums the phenomenon up pretty well.

    Selena Gomez & The Scene – Naturally

    P.S. I simply do not understand how to code blockquotes on this site and make them work. How in the world do you do it? The standard bracketing of the blockquote tag just does not work.

  50. 50
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Lysana:

    Sorry, I’m close to that age and I find it rather gross. It isn’t passion, it’s salaciousness posed for shock value.

  51. 51
    Uloborus says:

    @Linda Featheringill:
    Yep. Except… how is it doing so? By encouraging people to molest children? Not bloody likely. Children are molested by parents and other family members. It’s no more about pedophilia than the Catholic priest molestations are about being gay. It’s about horrible people abusing their power over the weakest victims they can find.

    ‘Objectifying’ women? That’s tarring with an insanely broad brush. At that point you’re including any depiction of women of any age as beautiful. You’re punishing men for feeling lust. Hell, you might as well take Johnny Depp out of his movies. He’s in there exactly because he’s a sex object. And is there any damage there? Do pictures of pretty girls make men think of women less as people? Sure… for about fifteen minutes. It should come as no surprise to anyone here that being turned on makes people stop thinking. There’s no evidence for a cause/effect relationship at all.

    Pictures of little girls dressed up like this do not hurt anybody. They just feel creepy, but there’s nothing immoral about that.

  52. 52
    Wilson Heath says:

    That definition of evil is going to stick with me. It’s surprisingly apt.

  53. 53
    Uloborus says:

    @Linda Featheringill:
    Actually, let me add a revision. It might be that you mean that children should not be in modeling because modeling is a Hellish career that tears people’s egos apart, and there aren’t many situations where a six year old having a job isn’t bad for them.

    THAT I could go with. But it still has nothing to do with the picture itself.

  54. 54
    ET says:

    You really want to get sick – watch Toddlers & Tiaras. It is all over the kiddie pageant industry. Sadly the parents are pimps here.

  55. 55
    debbie says:

    @ wag:

    Um, I think that is the entire point of the Tom ford photo shoot. I think it is meant as a SATIRE of our culture’s view of youth.

    I heard Ford interviewed on Fresh Air when A Single Man came out, and he specifically criticized the fashion industry for the hard and painful turn fashion had taken with women’s clothing. I can’t remember the specific wording, but he was very critical of the image these styles perpetuated. For that reason, I’m inclined to think you might be right.

  56. 56
    The Dangerman says:

    @Uloborus:

    ‘Objectifying’ women? That’s tarring with an insanely broad brush. At that point you’re including any depiction of women of any age as beautiful.

    Exactly; cuts both ways, based on physical characteristics. I just don’t recall the last time that a woman told me what attracted her to a man was his ability to artfully handle integral calculus.

    You’re punishing men for feeling lust.

    No, it’s punishing the WRONG men for feeling lust; if Brad Pitt gave a woman “that look”, it would result in tearful glee.

  57. 57
    kay says:

    @HeartlandLiberal:

    For the “High School Musical” series, you can even buy your five year old girl padded bras and bikini panties from the show. How cool is that?

    Sex issues aside, the reason adults shouldn’t put little girls in clothing designed for adult women is because the kids can’t move naturally in those clothes, and kids have to move.

    Women move differently depending on what they’re wearing. Sheer stockings are fragile, and high heels are precarious. Little girls respond to the constraint, and they stop moving freely. You may as well bind their feet.

    You can see them change. They tug on the short skirts, they cross their arms and legs, they walk slowly.

    I had an eight year old tell me her new sneakers made her faster. It’s not that, of course. It’s that she can’t dart around and pivot in sandals with heels.

  58. 58
    Pococurante says:

    “… that suggest the sexual agency and availability of much older women.”

    Is that what the kids are calling it these days? Just as well, I always did think “hottie” was kind of meh.

  59. 59
    Henry says:

    I was given up for adoption at birth. Spent 4 months in an orphanege and then was adopted by a soon to be well to do couple who adored me and my adopted sister from a differen’t family.
    I am now 57 and I still have adbandonment issues.
    I have been married twice, I am a working stiff, and have 4 kids of my own, and I still can’t imagine giving up a child.
    Oh boy; I don’t want a generation of lost souls like me wandering about, wondering Who they really are.
    I Already know their pain.
    Henry

  60. 60
    Pococurante says:

    @R-Jud:

    There’s a long legal and cultural history of treating women and girls like property or chattel, which we’ve only started turning our backs on in the last hundred years or so.

    You know what else has happened in the last one hundred years? Dignity and freedom of destiny for all people, even those below a certain elite landed class.

    Let’s not fool ourselves by believing only women and children suffered being chattel. Men too were treated as little more than beasts of burden, feudal serfs herded and mown down at a whim.

    Life is better now. It’s better because technology enabled better economics which created a middle class which created self-destination.

    For everyone.

  61. 61
    Uloborus says:

    @The Dangerman:
    I didn’t want to get into the double standard not being as double as is usually claimed because both sexes are being mistreated in different ways. I really think it’s a separate argument. But I don’t disagree with you!

  62. 62

    @HeartlandLiberal: Have seen a bit of Disney lately due to a 12 year old grand daughter & some of the programs have now been banned for her. It’s a long way from Mickey Mouse. Also in the fall during a clothes shopping session noted (in the pre-teen dept. ) a display of VERY short shorts with leggings attached. Said leggings were black fishnet. After muttering “who on earth thinks pre-teens should wear these” I noted the brand – Disney. Mentioned my concerns to store manager. She said it’s what people want. I really hope she’s wrong.

  63. 63
    RP says:

    I agree that linking these stories is a bit of a reach.

  64. 64
    cmorenc says:

    @maus:

    I don’t really see this as sexual. I see it as a lot more “playing grown-up dress-up” than child beauty pageant, really. I don’t know, is it wrong that it doesn’t creep me out? It’s obviously not my bag, but these are not hooker/whore poses, just kids looking “fierce”.

    Are you always this colossally oblivious? These aren’t kids playing among themselves, these are kids who’ve been deliberately dressed/made up/posed to look like this by ADULTS, in order to convey a very calculated effect. – it’s totally unnecessary to dress kids up with a whorish “fuck me” appearance to look fierce.

    Bona fide “fierce” is a 7 yo girl playing some kind of sport with a Mia Hamm-competitor game-face on.

  65. 65
    Ed Marshall says:

    I don’t see anything there. It’s not sexy, I don’t think it’s supposed to be sexy. It’s like he went for transgressive and didn’t quite want to do it and made something boring.

  66. 66
    Steeplejack says:

    @HeartlandLiberal:

    I simply do not understand how to code blockquotes on this site and make them work. How in the world do you do it? The standard bracketing of the blockquote tag just does not work.

    Here’s what works:

    Last line of “regular” text above blockquote.
    &#060blockquote&#062
    Paragraph 1. Don’t leave a blank line above the blockquote, else your quote will be in bold. FYWP.
    &#095&#095
    Paragraph 2. Put two underscores between each paragraph to keep the blockquote together.
    &#095&#095
    Paragraph 3, etc.
    &#060/blockquote&#062
    Resume normal text. (Blank line not needed after blockquote. WP takes care of it.)

    (h/t Monkeyboy © 2009)

  67. 67
    les says:

    @dr.hypercube:

    Well, you can’t do Stand on Zanzibar and not mention The Sheep Look Up. There are many days that I think we get closer to Brunner’s vision all the time.

  68. 68
    Geeno says:

    The girls, dressed and made-up in haute hooker chic, are toys—dolls, really—onto which a viewer is supposed to project … whatever.

    I can guess what some viewers are “projecting” on to the images.

  69. 69
    Tom Levenson says:

    Thanks to all who commented here — smart, good thread in response to some rather bleary-eyed late night blogging. I’ve written some thoughts in response, which, as usual for me, expanded to rather more than just a comment — so kick back up to the jump in the unlikely event you want to pound through another mini-tome.

    Best,

    Tom

  70. 70

    […] night–and that I then added to after reading the comment thread there this morning. Check that thread out here if you want to see the context for the second half of the […]

  71. 71
    Nemo_N says:

    All those kids look very silly. Almost ridiculous.

  72. 72
    HyperIon says:

    @J. Michael Neal:

    It’s not even sexy. It’s some weird parody of sexy.

    Umm, having sex with an animal doesn’t strike me as sexy either. But some guys like it. Obviously “sexy” is in the eye/groin of the beholder.

  73. 73
    maus says:

    @cmorenc:

    Are you always this colossally oblivious? These aren’t kids playing among themselves, these are kids who’ve been deliberately dressed/made up/posed to look like this by ADULTS, in order to convey a very calculated effect. – it’s totally unnecessary to dress kids up with a whorish “fuck me” appearance to look fierce.
    __
    Bona fide “fierce” is a 7 yo girl playing some kind of sport with a Mia Hamm-competitor game-face on.

    I agree with the latter, while I see why people would get upset, I just don’t get my hackles raised by these images because I know they’re staged, I get the feeling that (hopefully) these kids aren’t like the lifestylers in the pageant circuit, they can go and play and do silly kid things outside of this. Sure, it’s inappropriate, but I can’t take this seriously. Perhaps when I have a kid this age, I’ll feel differently.

    My lack of anger is not obliviousness. The kids are in adult poses, but it stops short of sexual.

  74. 74
    mclaren says:

    I don’t think it harms the kids, since they’re too young to have any idea what they’re doing. They probably just think it’s fun to put on those weird clothes and lie around in strange poses.

    No, it’s pathological because of the sick twisted appeal it makes to youth combined with the suggestion of sexuality. You can see a very dysfunctional progression here: in the 1940s, 20 year old women were considered young and that was the age of girls who were features in fashion layouts. By the 1970s 17 and 18 year olds were considered young and the age of the fashion models crept downwards. By the 1980s, we had Brooke Shields appearing in suggestive Calvin Klein commercials and photo layouts at age 12.

    Now we’ve got 6 year olds appearing in fashion layouts. This is sick. What’s next? Foetuses?

  75. 75
    mclaren says:

    @les:

    And don’t forget Brunner’s best book, The Jagged Orbit.

    Very underrated writer, Brunner.

  76. 76
    debbie says:

    @ maus:

    I just don’t get my hackles raised by these images because I know they’re staged, I get the feeling that (hopefully) these kids aren’t like the lifestylers in the pageant circuit, they can go and play and do silly kid things outside of this.

    Then I suggest you review the life of Lewis Carroll/Charles Dodgson. He took more than a few nude photos of little girls, and a reading of his diaries (or you can check out the biography by Cohen) reveals his tortured inner thoughts and irredeemable guilt. It’s pretty safe to say that if he hadn’t be restricted by Victorian guilt, he’d have lived the life of an active pedophile.

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