the author

1

Ashley Solomon, Psy.D is a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, trauma, and serious mental illness.

post categories

nourishing body image awards

Nourishing Body Image Awards Badge

Vogue plays dress-up with little girls

January 12, 2011 60 Comments by Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

As if the media standards for looking youthful and thin weren’t absurd enough, apparently adult women are now expected not only look prepubescent, but Pre-K as well.

Or so one might assume from a recent spread in Vogue Paris, a notoriously racy and boundary-pushing publication, that featured girls age six donning Valentino gowns, dripping with jewels, painted with heavy make-up, and sporting satin bras.

vogue1

The December fashion piece was entitled “Cadeaux” (or “Gifts”, for those who need to brush up on high school French) and featured girls who should be spending time reading adventure stories or playing kickball lounging on leopard-print sofas giving their most come-hither stares and reapplying their wine-colored lipstick with manicured nails. In one particularly unseemly photograph, a bejeweled youngster is featured with a toothbrush in her mouth. If this was Parents magazine, I’d applaud the promotion of dental hygiene. But this is Vogue, and there is nothing that doesn’t ooze with sex in this publication.

vogue4

Tom Ford, fashion icon, guest edited the issue; however, it seems to be Carine Roitfeld, editor-in-chief, who’s taking the heat. Actually, make that former editor-in-chief, as the woman who told reporters that she tries to do “something every month that is… not politically correct,” has “stepped down,” while rumors fly.

Fortunately, or so I hope, most women will recognize not only the ludicrousness of this 15-page spread, but also the potential danger that exists in portraying girls in this way.

vogue5

So, what’s wrong with playing a little dress-up?

Portraying girls in adult apparel and situations and portraying adult women as young girls (à la Britney Spears sucking on a lollipop in a Catholic school girl uniform) reinforces the sexualization of youth, something that harms both girls and society.

vogue3

In fact, the American Psychological Association created a Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls and found that these media, products, and societal practices are significantly harming the healthy development of young girls. Dr Eileen Zurbriggen, Chair of the APA Task Force, stated unequivocally, “We have ample evidence to conclude that sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development.”

Messages like these in Vogue are sent to young girls during a critical period of identity development. They implicitly convey a message of objectification wherein the girls become objects of adoration for ideals of beauty and sexuality. Girls then internalize these messages and develop shame and fear around their bodies, which results in things like anxiety, eating disorders, depression, and impaired sexual development.

vogue2

And the effects don’t end there. Society suffers as well, with the sexualization of girls being linked to sexist attitudes, poorer relationships between men and women, and sexual harassment. And consider this: If a young girl is too caught up with shame and fear about her appearance to do things like raise her hand in class or join the science club, we as a society lose out on enormous intellectual and leadership potential that could push us forward.

So while little girls playing in mommy’s clothes and make-up may seem benign, it’s not. Vogue Paris is doing a disservice not only to little girls everywhere, but to all us.

What are your reactions?

NTS-Medium

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

51 Comments

  1. Caroline
    4 years ago

    Outrageous and Disgusting. Thanks for bringing this story to light. I’ve posted on FB to share with others. Not that I buy Vogue now, but I surely won’t ever even TOUCH an issue again.

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this on FB to spread awareness!

      Reply

      • Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth
        4 years ago

        And Ashley, thank YOU for spreading the awareness! When I wrote the lengthy resource compilation of evidentiary harm in the Jan 6 post, “Vogue Cadeaux: Children ARE Gifts. Not to Be Wrapped & Sold” http://www.shapingyouth.org/?p=13412 I was hoping others like you would see the massive mind assault with this ongoing media profiteering and really see the damage as what it is…a public health problem.

        To me, we need to clip the weeds at the roots, via funding ties so that this crud doesn’t continue to get watered and grow into a tangled blight on the childhood garden of innocence. Thanks so much for championing change and carrying the conversation forward…(I was at an all day conf yesterday, so just saw your tweet; will RT now!)

        Here’s to nourishing souls with HEALTHIER messaging in 2011. Onward!

        Reply

  2. Michele @ Healthy Cultivations
    4 years ago

    This makes my skin crawl. It just perpetuates the very thing we’d like to stop — girls engaging in adult behavior far prior to being emotionally or even physically ready.

    And as much as it incites anger toward the magazine, photographers, etc., the real people I question in the situation are the parents of the young girl models. Clearly, they’re not exactly the “good enough” parent required for adequate emotional development of these children. Are they really that uninformed? Perhaps they really don’t understand the far-reaching effects of permitting their child to pose for these photos. I like to think they don’t understand… if they do fully comprehend it and still allow it, then it bewilders even more.

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      That is interesting that you bring up the parents, as it wasn’t something that I thought about when writing this post. One has to wonder how much involvement the parents had – whether they were actively supporting their daughters in this endeavor or weren’t aware of the nature… Either way, it is ultimately a parent’s responsibility to protect their child. Thanks for pointing out that issue.

      Reply

  3. Megan
    4 years ago

    Whoa! That’s not appropriate. Not only the sexualization of young girls, it is also the linking of sexuality with a specific beauty ideal. Very limiting and very dangerous.
    Megan recently posted..Beating Heart meditation

    Reply

  4. Margarita @ Weightless
    4 years ago

    Ashley, this is a really well-written and thought-provoking post! My first reaction was shock but then I remembered that we’re talking about fashion magazines here, and I was just back to being disgusted. I understand that publications like to push the envelope and they want to have a fresh, new spin in each and every issue. But seriously?

    Magazines also need to be responsible in the messages they put out – at least to an extent. It’s one thing to shock us with ridiculous adult images. But it’s another to use kids, I think. To me, this is very disturbing and like you said, has a variety of negative consequences.

    Also, like MIchele said, I kept wondering how the parents let their daughters do this. I mean the kids don’t even understand what they’re even doing. I won’t speak for the parents but I’m just surprised – OK, I don’t want to judge, but more like, holy-crap shocked – that any parent would be OK with this.

    Thank you for writing about this!
    Margarita @ Weightless recently posted..Bullying & Body Image- Q&A With Deborah Reber- Part 1

    Reply

  5. Lori Lieberman
    4 years ago

    This sickens me. I must confess, much as I love your writing, AShley, I couldn’t bring myself to read the text; the visual images said it all.
    Yes, fellow bloggers, there’s much work to be done!
    Lori Lieberman recently posted..Please- Refer Sandra For Much Needed Help!

    Reply

  6. Melissa Wardy
    4 years ago

    I agree with every single word you wrote, and will only add that the sexualization of girls MUST stop, but that when it does happen, people need to be shocked and outraged. Our daugthers deserve better.

    Thank you for your excellent anaylsis!

    Reply

  7. Tracie
    4 years ago

    This is so disturbing and upsetting.

    Reply

  8. kittenpie
    4 years ago

    Completely agree about sexualization on the whole, though looking more closely at the article, it seems to suggest this is NOT okay even while showing it. The text on the second page reads “Quel maquillage a quel age? Comment se maquiller a 15 ans? Et a 70? Surement pas comme a 20 ans.” In English, that would read, “What makeup at what age? How does one make oneself up at 15 years old? And at 70? Surely not as at 20 years.” Which really suggests that they are putting the images in the piece to show how absurd that can look in either direction, but of course, without seeing the entire article, I’m not sure if they also put a few old ladies in there for contrast or not, as that intro would call for. That, and of course, they had to know that the images would stir up some controversy and get people talking about (and buying) the mag…

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      Thanks for the translation! I have never taken a day of French, so appreciate someone pointing out the text. It’s important to consider the images in context, though I think they are really disheartening nonetheless.

      Reply

  9. kelly @kellynaturally
    4 years ago

    Wow. Maybe it doesn’t need to be said, but I feel like I have to (dripping with judgment, here it comes:) WHAT WERE THE PARENTS OF THESE GIRLS THINKING?!?!
    Is it for money, fame, boosting the parents’ egos? I can’t even imagine allowing ANYONE to dress my childn in clothes like that & placing them in seductive poses then taking photographs intended for public consumption.
    Wasn’t there a single parent in there – even the photographers, stylists, editors, who stopped & thought, “Wow, this doesn’t send the right message?”
    Deeply disturbing, some of the images moreso than others. This goes well beyond the average everyday sexualization of our little girls (like bikinis for toddlers or sweatpants with sayings on the tushes for tweens), and into an altogether deeper realm of weirdness and disturbia.
    kelly @kellynaturally recently posted..Nine Parenting Truths

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      You make a very good point, Kelly! As I replied in the comment above, this wasn’t an issue I thought about while writing this post, but is certainly an important one. While we can easily chastise the media, we also need to look to the consumers and parents for real change. Thanks for pointing this out!

      Reply

  10. mamapoekie
    4 years ago

    This in an age where parents fear the ‘lurking peadophile’ behind every corner? It’s just outrageous… I’m seriously wondering what on earth they tried to do with this thing beside raising such disgust that ven blogs like this talk about it… indeed a good publicity stunt then.
    Poor girls growing up to be women in Western society…

    Though I don’t necessarily think that playing dress up is about sexualisation… if it’s about throwing mom’s shoes on and a dishcloth on your head… I think it also depends on how much mom is involved in being sexualized.
    mamapoekie recently posted..Quote Of The Day

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      You raise a good point about how things like this create publicity for the magazines or other media. You have to wonder about the meetings that go on…

      Reply

  11. Sarah Ames
    4 years ago

    Reminds me of Jon Benet Ramsey and look what happened to her.

    Reply

  12. Jean Sampson
    4 years ago

    Yes, Kelly, where WERE the parents? I posted it on my FB page and I really am beyond speachless about this. Are we really this sick as a society?

    Reply

  13. Vanessa
    4 years ago

    Paeophiles love these sorts of images

    Reply

  14. Lori Lieberman
    4 years ago

    Funny, Jon Benet Ramsey was the first thing that crossed my mind too!
    What are editors thinking? I just attacked the NY Times for their outrageous piece supporting eating disordered thoughts and behaviors http://dropitandeat.blogspot.com/2011/01/please-refer-sandra-for-much-needed.html
    Lori Lieberman recently posted..Please- Refer Sandra For Much Needed Help!

    Reply

  15. Kate @ Walking in the Rain
    4 years ago

    These pictures, like child beauty pageants, make my skin crawl.

    The parents say its all in good fun and how the girls like dressing up, but to me adding some sort of reward/attention/winning/money component to dress up teaches the notion worth is tied to appearance.

    Reply

  16. Christie @ Abundant Self Care
    4 years ago

    I think it is 100% disgusting. I am particularly appalled by the girl with the gold dress and the rabbits. Why must be objectify our children this way? Being an adult is hard enough in this world without subjecting out children to the same pressures and ideals we have absurdly created for women.
    Christie @ Abundant Self Care recently posted..The Colors of Your Creative Spirit — A Guided Meditation

    Reply

  17. charlotte
    4 years ago

    I just shuddered when I saw this on Jezebel (they’re angle was that Vogue meant it as a satire) but after reading your take on it, I think I was wrong to dismiss it as social commentary in poor taste. I’m surprised at how inured I have become to seeing glamorized pictures of women so thank you for putting the shock back in me! You are totally right.
    charlotte recently posted..Frugal Fitness- Get a Great Workout for Free

    Reply

    • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul
      4 years ago

      Thanks for pointing me to the Jezebel article. It made some really interesting points. My response to it would be that I don’t believe the (perhaps) satirical nature was “obvious” as the writer states and I think that the editor and guest editor’s history suggest otherwise. I guess who really knows the motivations. What I do know is that this is reflective a much wider problem (which the article does acknowledge). Thanks again!
      Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul recently posted..Vogue plays dress-up with little girls

      Reply

  18. Dana Udall-Weiner
    4 years ago

    A 15-page spread? This is so disturbing. I am kind of (surprisingly) at a loss for words. It shouldn’t be surprising, because we see this all the time. But the extent to which these girls are poised and primped to look like high society hookers is shocking. Hello, is there anyone at the helm of Vogue who has a modicum of common sense and decency? Can they hire a few feminists?
    Dana Udall-Weiner recently posted..It’s a Matter of Degree- Do You Use Education for Status

    Reply

  19. Nancy
    4 years ago

    The truth is that artists have every right to create what they want. The question is how did we, collectively as a whole society, get to a place where this kind of art became publishable in a mainstream magazine like vogue? Consumers need to take some responsibility here for feeding this beast, I think. After all, the TV show toddlers & tiaras has been successfully running for how many seasons? And the practice of childhood beauty pageants has been around for decades. If people watch it, buy it, enter it, it grows and lives and turns into this spread. I’m 25 now and my mother wouldn’t let me buy tinted chapstick until I was 13- which was also true for most of my friends- and I grew up in New York, not some small town. If times have changed this much, I shudder to think what’s next. Frankly, even if we watch toddlers & tiaras or bridalplasty to mock it, we still indulge it and fortify it with an audience.

    As for these girls, much like with the entrants of child beauty pageants and child TV and film stars, young children are trying to develop a sense of self, and this kind of work at this age teaches them to put on masks for others to the point that the self is lost. My opinion is that it must be very psychologically damaging, and my hope is that they’ll grow up well. I certainly am not okay with the air of glamour that surrounds young models or actors because I don’t think emulating even seemingly healthy performers is healthy behavior for kids. I’m all about reminding kids to be who they are, no matter who that person is.

    Reply

  20. KCLAnderson (Karen)
    4 years ago

    In in the end, it’s all about the power WE give it. I find it disturbing for sure…creepy even. But here we all are talking about it…isn’t this what the people who produced it want?
    KCLAnderson (Karen) recently posted..What If Both Things Are True Either Way I’m In Awe

    Reply

  21. Sarah
    4 years ago

    These pictures are slightly disturbing but nothing as horrible as Toddlers and Tiaras. That show disgusts me. Unfortunately had I been one of those little girls I would have loved to dress up in fancy clothes with makeup and gorgeous hair but my parents would have never allowed me to be exploited in such a manner. I wonder where these poor girls’ parents were.
    Sarah recently posted..No More Yogurt!

    Reply

  22. Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth
    4 years ago

    But Sarah, comparisons of ‘what’s worse’ only get us so far…For example…one could argue this ‘living dolls’ video of little Mia in her cone shaped bra being prompted to shake it Katy Perry style by her mama is downright child abuse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zPj39PLYtU (children are NOT props fergawdsakes, people!) does that make it any less ‘right’ because a parent is the profiteer instead of a media conglomerate? I’d argue no, it does not. (though some of us may find it even more heinous and give it a double-facepalm!)

    Children have the right to childhood…exploiting them as props and visual tinkertoys on the landscape of life is dead wrong imho.

    Reply

  23. dockie
    4 years ago

    disgusting and sinful, if sin still means somenthing in today´s corrupt world. while the church has been under attack for certain -very few, indeed, but unfortunately- rotten grapes within her body affecting her image worldwide, those hypocrites praise this b.s. as art! thus portraying us how doble-standard the mass media is. At the other hand, having flocks of angry muslims in Europe -particulary in France- these tough lads would want to, in their hypocrite standards, ban the publication -right- while seizing the girls.

    Reply

  24. Vicky
    4 years ago

    I don’t think it’s bad if they do it once and only once, as a game.They look beautiful. At least here there’s nothing arbitrary. But I know it continues… so is not ok. But well, this is my opinion.

    Reply

  25. Rochelle Hays
    3 years ago

    I have never taken a day of French, so appreciate someone pointing out the text. I won’t speak for the parents but I’m just surprised – OK, I don’t want to judge, but more like, holy-crap shocked – that any parent would be OK with this. Outrageous and Disgusting.
    Rochelle Hays recently posted..Many Cures

    Reply

  26. http://www.cupcakes-maken.nu/
    5 months ago

    Un ցros bravo au créateur de ce site web
    http://www.cupcakes-maken.nu/ recently posted..http://www.cupcakes-maken.nu/

    Reply

  27. XXX fille facile
    4 months ago

    Un puissant remerciement au créateur de ce site
    XXX fille facile recently posted..XXX fille facile

    Reply

  28. cassie-cruz.com
    4 months ago

    Je suis entièrement en ɑccord avec toi
    cassie-cruz.com recently posted..cassie-cruz.com

    Reply

  29. Cute Baby Girl Outfits
    4 months ago

    Thank you for your excellent article. The media’s sexualisation of our young girls is detrimental to their overall healthy development. ~

    Reply

  30. http://Www.123stream.biz
    3 months ago

    J’аi guère terminé dee lire mais je pass dans la soiгée
    http://Www.123stream.biz recently posted..http://Www.123stream.biz

    Reply

  31. metal gear solid toy guns
    3 months ago

    Great blog here! Additionally your site quite a bit up very fast!
    What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate hyperlink in your
    host? I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol
    metal gear solid toy guns recently posted..metal gear solid toy guns

    Reply

  32. Iris
    2 months ago

    This is Child Abuse .corruption out Of mind Insane Sinners
    Who post This Pictures is ” Loco “Satan !
    “parents Business .” ABUSE to their Own Child .
    ” Diabolic” Abusing THIS KIDS TO SALE BRANDS .
    LET THE KIDS BE
    SPIRIT OF LIGHT !
    Matthew 18:6King James Version (KJV)

    6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

    Reply

  33. Iris
    2 months ago

    Whats wrong with u .
    Dont you readwe dont want sexy in KIDS
    SUCIOS MUERTOS. Los que hacen de los niños pornografia !

    Reply

  34. Iris
    2 months ago

    Whats wrong with u .
    Dont you reacdwe dont want to see
    sexy KIDS !
    SUCIOS y MUERTOS.
    que hacen con los niños !
    Leave children alone !
    SEARCH
    http://WWW.GODISLOVE.com

    Reply

  35. dental hygienist needed
    1 month ago

    You might unquestionably go to your expertise inside the function you’re writing. A segment desires for additional excited writers such as you who aren’t reluctant to note where did they imagine. All of the time stick to your center.

    Reply

  36. tall guys couple
    1 month ago

    Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just
    extremely wonderful. I acxtually like what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what
    you are saying and the wway in whch you say it. You make iit enjoyable and
    you still care for to keep it sensible. I can not wait to read far more from
    you. This is actually a wonderful website.
    tall guys couple recently posted..tall guys couple

    Reply

  37. giabafi.wordpress.com
    4 weeks ago

    Hello, this weekend is nihe designed forr me, for the reason that this moment i am reading tjis wonderful educational piece of writing here at my residence.
    giabafi.wordpress.com recently posted..giabafi.wordpress.com

    Reply

  38. Windows 7 Service pack 1 Activator
    3 weeks ago

    Managing Microsoft dynamics sure step implementation offers a lot of expertise that offers your career on stronger basis.
    Can they survive without knowing how to work
    a computer’. com is excited to offer HD7 at sale which is beyond comparison.
    Windows 7 Service pack 1 Activator recently posted..Windows 7 Service pack 1 Activator

    Reply

  39. estafa
    2 weeks ago

    Marvelous, what a blog it is! This webpage gives helpful facts to us, keep it up.
    estafa recently posted..estafa

    Reply

9 Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Project Swole. Project Swole said: Vogue plays dress-up with little girls: As if the media standards for looking youthful and thin weren’t absurd e… http://bit.ly/gipUmc [...]

  2. By Dadventure - » Hurting our daughters on January 13, 2011 at 7:40 am

    [...] specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, body image, trauma, and serious mental illness, said this on her blog. Portraying girls in adult apparel and situations and portraying adult women as young girls (à la [...]

  3. By Saturday Surfing « Au Coeur on January 22, 2011 at 9:09 am

    [...] Vogue plays dress-up with little girls – Nourishing the Soul.  I’m just too horrified for words. [...]

  4. By The Buzz in the Hive – Episode 13 on October 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    [...] No fads, just small steps that lead to big change!Ashley at Nourishing the Soul brings up the sexualization of really young girls, and makes a strong case for paying attention to the underlying meaning of seemingly “fun” [...]

  5. [...] is the blog I referenced in the online lecture analyzing the 15-page pictorial in a 2011 French Vogue issue… in provocative [...]

  6. […] Képek forrása és még több fotó a sorozatból itt. […]

  7. […] long ago, Vogue Paris was skewered for a spread that depicted little girls in kitten heels, makeup and sultry pouts. […]

  8. […] long ago, Vogue Paris was skewered for a spread that depicted little girls in kitten heels, makeup and sultry pouts. […]

  9. […] long ago, Vogue Paris was skewered for a spread that depicted little girls in kitten heels, makeup and sultry pouts. […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

  1. CommentLuv badge