Storm over Sophie Morin lingerie for kids campaign
French underwear designer targeting girls between four and 12 accused of sexualising children
A French lingerie designer, Sophie Morin, has caused outrage with a campaign using pre-pubescent girls to model her range of "loungewear and lingerie" for girls between four and 12. The campaign for the underwear brand Jours Apres Lunes features images of young girls - their hair in bouffant - reclining on sofas in bras and pants, playing with Jackie O-style sunglasses and strings of pearls.
Fashion blog Fashionista noted "it's lingerie for people who probably shouldn't be old enough to even know what lingerie is". The Daily Mail said the shots were "inappropriate for publication" as they featured "young girls in poses and styling that seem far too mature for their ages".
In the US, the NY Daily News said the brand had "crossed the line from cute to seriously creepy". Fashion writer Marilisa Racco told the paper: "These pictures are not cute. It's entirely inappropriate to put a four-year-old in a bouffant like she's Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman. It's inappropriate to sexualize children."
• In pictures: Child models - how young is too young?
Some commentators believe the reaction reflects a cultural gap between Anglo and French attitudes. When pictures of a 10-year-old French model, Thylane Loubry-Blondeau (daughter of French footballer Patrick Blondeau and TV presenter Veronika Loubry), in heavy make-up and gold stilettos recently appeared in Vogue, the response in England and America bordered on hysterical.
In France, however, they were less bothered. "From a young age, girls practice being women," explained Alice Pfeiffer on Fashionista, "or rather, French women." And on the Paris fashion scene there is no shortage of labels selling clothes that allow young girls to match their mothers in sophistication and sexiness. Agnes B, for example, has carried a 'Lolita' range since 1984.
"There is no real teenage culture in France, no Larry Clark nor Hillary Duff. Somehow, one goes straight from childhood to a semblance of adulthood," said Carol Mann, a French sociologist specializing in gender and childhood. "Hence the [portrayal] of the 'femme-enfant' such as Brigitte Bardot or Vanessa Paradis."
And as the blog MYFDB remarked: "Who didn’t play with makeup when they were younger"?