Wearing heavy make-up and gold stilettos, Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau sprawls seductively on leopard-print bed covers.
The provocative pose might seem nothing unusual for a Vogue fashion shoot – except that Blondeau is a 10-year-old girl.
The highly-sexualized photo spread of this Parisian preteen, which appears in a recent issue of Vogue Paris, has stirred up an adult-sized controversy.
As the daughter of Véronika Loubry, a French actress and television presenter, and former soccer player Patrick Blondeau, Thylane Blondeau has lived her young life in the midst of the high fashion world.
She strutted the catwalk for Jean Paul Gaultier at the age of 4 and already boasts an impressive modeling CV, with several magazine shoots to her name.
The fashion industry’s interest in a younger generation of consumers and models is nothing new.
Hollywood child actresses Elle Fanning, 13, and 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld have both recently signed modeling deals with Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu respectively. Before them were actresses such as Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried and Lindsay Lohan, who started their careers as young models.
But the outcry over Blondeau’s Vogue photo shoot has refreshed the debate over the sexualization of young girls.
A recent government initiative in Britain aimed to restrict the sexualization of children in the media. A spokesperson for the Mothers’ Union reacted to the Vogue shoot, telling the Daily Mail: “Photo shoots requiring her, a 10-year-old girl, to dress in full make-up, teetering heels and a dress with a cleavage cut to the waist across her pre-pubescent body deny Blondeau the right to be the child she is.”
And many believe Blondeau’s grown-up beauty is giving other young girls unhealthy ideas about how they should look.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), sexualizaton by the media directly affects how girls view femininity and sexuality, promoting “appearance and physical attractiveness” as key values.
It’s also linked to low self-esteem, eating disorders and depression.
"The fashion industry affects girls and women’s images of themselves and their self-esteem if they do not meet the industry ‘image’ that is currently in vogue,” Shari Miles-Cohen, senior director for the APA, told the ABC News.
"Even the very young are quite conscious of media images of what is ‘pretty’ and desirable.”