Yet again, the question of very young (think too young for middle school) fashion models is phrased in Think of the Children terms. Guardian writer Viv Groskrop at least offers, as an afterthought, a look at what it means for adult, female consumers that a model has to look 12 and if she also is 12 so be it.
Tucked away at the very end of the piece is, I think, the real story:
How young, then, is too young for fashion? And what's too old? "Sixteen is a good age to start," says [modeling agency director Carole] White. "Seventeen is the perfect age for a model, because most girls feel comfortable in themselves by then; 18 is good too, though, because then all their schooling is out of the way. If a girl started at 20, she would find it difficult to get work. Her agent would probably lie about her age and say she was a year or two younger."As a 28-year-old full-time student with plenty of student friends my own age or older, I'm tempted to address the bit about all plausible "schooling" being finished by 18. But I will instead highlight the bit about what happens should "a girl" begin modeling at the decrepit age of 20. I will, at the risk of repeating myself, note that the very language of the industry assumes a grown woman couldn't model clothes. I mean, 20 is old for a "girl."
No doubt, the telling-it-like-it-is response would be something about how, for men, for the usual evo-psych reasons, a woman is past it as soon as she's no longer a girl. But it's not clear how this would relate to the preferred looks in images very clearly directed at women, not men. Even if men prefer 15-year-olds (and I'm not saying they do), they wouldn't be the same 15-year-olds.
It would seem, then, that having ever-younger models is a way to draw as many consumers as possible into the insecurity tent, to make even college juniors feel inadequate, and how else to address that inadequacy than by buying crap?