The French edition of Vogue is rightly under fire for publishing a series of photos of Thylane Lena-Rose Loubry-Blondeau, a 10-year-old who appears in heavy makeup and a plunging neckline exposing her nonexistent cleavage and stiletto heels.
Blondeau's beauty has been compared to that of film icon Brigitte Bardot. She is, however, most likely years away from puberty and more years away from being able to have a consensual sexual relationship with an adult.
The images of Blondeau prove beyond any doubt that children are now being portrayed as erotic by mainstream media and industry. I’ve been warning about this trend for a long time, noting, for instance, that clothing companies like Abercrombie and Fitch were selling padded bikini bras for 8-year-olds (without any boycott of their stores), that Spanish toymaker Berjuan is selling a doll to little girls that encourages them to breastfeed (while wearing a vest that has flowers instead of erect nipples) and that fashion house Juicy Couture has no problem finding parents who’ll buy their little girls tight velour sweat suits with the word Juicy emblazoned across their bottoms.
In one Vogue photo Blondeau is pictured lying on her stomach atop a tiger pelt.
She is wearing diamond earrings, lipstick, eye makeup and a red dress. In another, she looks about 20, with her mouth open and her finger gliding along her scarlet lips. The clear message is that it is A-OK to feel sexually stimulated by her (since that is the obvious intention of the photos), that little girls are inherently sexually desirable and that they desire men, in turn. Why else, the unconscious part of a man asks himself, would she dress that way?
The answer is, of course, because her reprehensible parents (no better than pimps) got paid to dress her that way by Vogue, and Vogue gets paid to dress her that way by selling magazines. But that doesn’t do away with the impact of the images themselves. Men don’t dismiss what they are made to feel sexually about little girls simply because they are looking at a staged photo shoot, any more than they dismiss their sexual feelings about female movie stars simply because they know the glib and erotic things they are saying and doing are scripted.
It may be that something about social media and the Internet and technology is contributing to this trend. The fact that little girls have assimilated glib, flirtatious turns of phrase harvested from the Web (without even intending to be glib or flirtatious) and that they own the props of adulthood—like cell phones—prompts damaged men to think of them as little adults.
Not only do I believe Vogue is stimulating pedophiles to act on their desires, but I believe Vogue and Abercrombie and Juicy are creating pedophiles by coaxing dark, illegal desires out of men who would never have otherwise consciously felt them, let alone acted upon them.
Any adult woman who buys a Vogue magazine, or sets foot in an Abercrombie and Fitch store or buys a stitch of Juicy clothing (just to name a small number of examples) is on the side of those who would deprive our children of childhood and turn them into the targets of predators.
Keith Ablow, MD is a psychiatrist, and was host of the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show." He is a former member of the Fox News Medical A Team.