The December 2010 issue of Vogue Paris features girls as young as five years old, it seems, posing in hypersexualized ways, clad in high heels, tight dresses, bright red lipstick and lounging on leopard print pillows.
Is this high-fashion? Or just highly wrong? It's clearly over-the-top and disturbing in more ways than one. These young girls are photographed in a spread clearly meant to mimic the allure and beauty of adult female models. How is it that these horrific photos made it past numerous editors, onto the pages of one of the most widely-read high-fashion magazines in the world?
This sort of exploitation of girls in the media is not only wrong - it's harmful. According to the American Psychological Association, the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is undoubtedly harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development. Published reports and well-documented studies show a negative impact on the development of girls' healthy sexuality, these sorts of over-sexualized images can also lead to eating disorders, depression and anxiety.
The good news is that we can combat the hypersexualization of girls' in popular culture. Thanks to positive images and portrayals of young girls in magazines like New Moon for girls, and reports that acknowledge how important "safe media" is to the development of healthy self-esteem in girls, we are on our way towards remedying the situation. Now, we have to speak up and tell Vogue Paris and Conde Nast, the publishers of the magazine, that images that exploit young girls by attempting to sexualize them for a mass audience, are harmful. They are not artistic, fashionable or acceptable.
Tell Vogue Paris and Conde Nast to issue an apology to all of its subscribers, and consumers of the magazine and to promise not to publish exploitative and harmful images of young girls ever again!
These photos are also disturbing and clearly detrimental to the psychological and physical well-being of girls. The American Psychological Association (APA) was concerned enough, in 2007, to convene a task force on the sexualization of girls. The task force released a report which found that the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is undoubtedly harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development. Not only do young girls suffer from eating disorders and depression, among other psychological impairments, but research has also shown that this kind of hypersexualization of girls in the popular media - from magazines to video games - leads to an inability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.
Sexuality is an important and healthy part of who we are as adults. But teaching girls that their value is, first and foremost, a result of being sexually objectified, or made into a thing for another's sexual use is detrimental.
We know this is not what you want. It's not what we want either. Please do your part to keep young girls around the globe on the road towards developing a healthy sense of self and apologize for the harmful photo spread, and promise not to exploit young girls' in the name of high-fashion moving forward.