There's nothing particularly captivating about the photo. A model in a cropped tank-top and hot pants, or perhaps it's a skirt? The model is sitting straight with both legs bending to her right, her feet arched as if she's in five-inch stilettoes, although it's a pair of ballerina pumps she's wearing.
Nothing striking, indeed, except for the fact that the model in question was a child. Yes, a child, not even a tween, not even a teenager. She's barely 10, and now she's in crotch-squeezing bottoms that many mothers wish would disappear from their daughters' wardrobe.
I wouldn't consider myself a conservative, it's not likely that you can be one if you work in fashion. I'm fine with a number of things that many people would raise their eyebrows at, even the use of underage models that many international glossies have set a bar against.
I've seen many Thai models working since they were 14 or 15, some even finishing their A-levels with the grades that many others who spent eight hours a day at school couldn't. But, well, Bangkok isn't a fashion city where demand for runway work is so intense that it could make or break a fragile, unprepared teenager.
Designer Marc Jacobs once questioned the Council of Fashion Designers of America's decision, as well as the public reaction, against the use of underage models. He asked why it's okay for child actors to work on movie sets but not for teenage models to work on runway shows.
Some promptly argued against Jacobs' claim, saying child actors are completely different from teenage models in that they are not made to represent people of any age but their own.
Child actors play children in movies, but 14-year-old models represent an image of grown-up women on runways _ their make-up, their pouts and sensual glare don't, or at least are not supposed to, belong to a 14-year-old.
If it was difficult for me to swallow that response at first, it wasn't after I saw the picture of the child dressed in hot pants posing provocatively.
I understand that the clothing range targets pre-teens and teens with a rock 'n' roll street style, and I have no questions regarding the aesthetic quality of the advertising campaign.
The problem lies in the representation of the child.
The model _ a well-known child star in her own right _ has years ahead before she'll grow fully into a beautiful woman. But she is pictured in red lips, hot pants that reveal most of her legs and her feet are arched far enough to slip a pair of Louboutins on. The only reason she's in a pump and not a high heel is because the brand cannot sell the bloody stilettoes in children's sizes!
The problem, you could say, isn't whether about it's fashionable or not or whether or not those against it are conservative.
Fashion-wise, it's fine by me. Socially, it isn't, and the problem isn't about the child. It's about the perception that some could generate about young children by looking at these pictures.
I don't mind if anyone calls me a conservative or doubts my understanding of fashion, but one of the last things I want to see in this world is the image of my seven-year-old daughter in leather hot pants or fishnet stockings. And yes, that scarlet pout!
And it's not just fashion we're talking about here.
It's about those television shows that make children imitate grown-ups. It's about those events that have children clad in body-conscious dresses swinging their hips and dancing their hearts out.
And it's about the fact that the public is confusing "confidence in self-expression" with over-confidence that knows no limits _ attention-seeking, you might say.
Perhaps it's time we start to draw a line on the representation of children in the media.
It shouldn't be a complicated issue in the least because children, as all mothers, fathers, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles would agree, have the basic right to be nothing else but children.
Samila Wenin is Deputy Editor of Life.
About the author
- Writer: Samila Wenin
Position: Muse Editor