From online to print: How child models are being portrayed and perceived in the industry

Written by Fashion

There is no simple answer to this question but plastering a toddler in make-up and dressing them up in luxury clothing that could probably pay my rent for 2 months seems a little excessive.

It surprises me how eager parents are to show off how cute and attractive their children are, but you have to look no further than Instagram to see just how far they will go. Some parents will see the slightest look of Kendal Jenner or David Beckham in their child and it’s enough for them to enrol their child at a modelling agency. Even if it does eventually turn them into materialistic and insecure teenagers.

It is undeniable that when you see children modelling clothes in a magazine, or displayed from wall-to-wall in shops, there’s a part of you that can’t help but go ‘aww’. However, when you really think about what you’re looking at, it’s a child, generally no older than six, who companies are using to model the clothes attractively so customers will purchase them.

Having images of young children on display in stores still opens up to potential dangers, but we are living in a dominantly online generation, where once images are uploaded to the cyber-sphere, they are forever there for the world to see.

Take Instagram for instance, an extremely popular social media site that involves posting a picture along with an appropriate caption. More and more fashion millennials are popping up on my ‘Discover’ feed, and I hate to say it but I wish I looked as stylish as them, not just when I was their age but now as well. The most popular child models on Instagram include; Coco (@coco_pinkprincess) and Ivan (@thegoldenfly), both of which are constantly photographed in high-fashion brands such as; Gucci and Burberry.

There is no issue in sharing cute pictures of your children online, you only need to scroll down your Facebook newsfeed to see how ‘normal’ it is, but Instagram is in a different league. Instagram is arguably driving the fashion industry nowadays, and pictures that seem as innocent as these are really free or paid PR for brands.

According to the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA) guidelines, a child must be over the age of sixteen to become a model, however Marc Jacobs broke this guideline in 2012. He did not apologise for what he did but did tell The Guardian’s Sara Ziff: “I guess if a parent thinks it’s okay and a kid wants to do it, it’s fine.”

Is it really fine though? Absolutely not, the guidelines are put there in order to protect younger children from the pressures and dangers in the fashion industry. It may look like the job of a lifetime but taking away their childhood shouldn’t be the sacrifice the parent makes for them.

Kim Kardashian-West’s daughter North West was on Forbes list of ‘Most Influential Toddlers’ at age 3. She acquired this covetous title for her fashionable style, which was mostly thanks to Kim and her husband Kanye West. Kim has constantly been bashed in the news for dressing her daughter too ‘adult’, as she has some of her own outfits specially made in a one-of-a-kind infant size for North.

This does pose the question of whether or not this is acceptable, as Kim is known to have some very provocative outfits, involving merely a pair of tights and an oversized shirt. An outfit of which North has been wearing on a number of occasions.

Wearing such expensive clothes and being assisted by trained professionals for all your needs is bound to make a growing child too comfortable, growing up to expect these things to be done by everyone. If your child isn’t at the age where they can make decision for themselves and decide on their own whether or not sacrificing their childhood is worth it for modelling, then don’t even consider it.

 

Last modified: 8th May 2019

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