“How Young Is Too Young To Be A Professional?”

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Meet Thylane Lena-Rose Blonde, the latest face of controversy in the modeling scene. Though this time it’s not about anorexia or fur, it’s about her age.

Thylane is 10-years-old, the daughter of notable football player Patrick Blondeau and designer Veronika Loubry, and just so happens to be all the rage in the fashion world, having already appeared on the cover of Vogue Enfants.

So what’s the problem?

The media and those aware with her name are generally in consensus that she is “over-sexualized” based on a few pictures from her portfolio, most notably from those associated with another Vogue shoot.

The arguments are nothing new: children are getting sexy too fast, how young is too young for makeup and heels, where does the fashion industry draw the line, and will she now become objectified and a desired object to pedophiles and sexual deviants?

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They’re all valid points, but I don’t hear another question which as just as important – how young is too young to be a professional?

When Thylane gets outfitted in the makeup and the heels and the dresses, and poses in a certain “come hither” manner, it’s not because that’s necessarily who she is, it’s because she’s doing a job. Whether it’s right or wrong, she’s being told what to do. Surely mothers worldwide would never want to see their daughters looking like that at that age, and the reasons it’s shocking are obvious. But she’s doing her job. 

And that’s the thing. She has barely been alive for one decade, and she’s working. Most children that age are in grade school, counting down the minutes until recess or eating junk food at the pool during summer vacation. Picture a young child doing any other job besides modeling, acting, or performing. If a pre-teen was working the cash register at a grocery store, it would be out of place, right? If they were working as a receptionist, it would get funny stares, correct?

Though there is a need for child actresses, models, singers, etc., they are not low stress careers.

Anyone in the entertainment business knows that things are not as simple or as glamorous as they appear. Add in stress and pressure born from media campaigns labeling the young girl as the latest controversy, and one can’t help but worry about her future.

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Whether or not children are growing up too quickly is an extremely important debate, however it’s not necessarily what they wear, more so than what they do. Will this girl ever have that awkward stage in life which will produce school pictures she will laugh at twenty years from now?

Will she have the same kind of memories we all have from our school days? Will she be able to grow up and one day remember life when nobody in the general public knew her name? Whether she’s wearing an Osh Kosh B’Gosh turtleneck or a pair of platform pumps, Thylane’s face is now recognizable and the privacy she may have had during this time of her life is now in jeopardy.

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Looking back on one’s own youth, if professional work had been involved at as young as nine or ten years old, things would have been way different.

And the fact of the matter is, when she’s out of the outfit that got Thylane onto the media’s radar, she’s still obviously a young girl (and other pictures in her portfolio which aren’t nearly as suggestive can prove this). Though all we see is her physical appearance, what the pictures don’t tell is how grown up she has become in her mind. If her biggest concern at that age is the next move she’ll be making in her career, that’s where the problem starts.

The clothes can be changed, the makeup can come off, and the resulting opportunity to bring attention to the issue of oversexed kids will be talked about until the next big news story comes along. But unlike an outfit switch, a mind state doesn’t just go away. The stresses of working a legitimate job are no playful or youthful matter, and when you’re the face of the latest issue vilifying the fashion scene, that stress can’t be easy to bear. At any age.

-Amanda Bassa 

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