This month at Melbourne Westfield Fountain Gate, Elodie Russell beat 500 other teens to be named Victorian state finalist in the new Dolly Model Search.
The Geelong student and 500 other girls competed in the model search resurrected after 10 years.
Elodie is 14. But girls as young as 13 can enter. The winner will receive a modelling contract, fashion shoot and cover shoot for Dolly, and be a “Dolly ambassador.”
The would-be models, many just in high school, are told they can be the next Miranda Kerr. The month’s Dolly has the Victoria’s Secret model in a red dress with words and arrow: ‘This could be you!’
Kerr is touted as an “inspiration” for young girls. (I’m not sure it’s just girls who find online images of Kerr semi-naked inspiring).
I asked editor Tiffany Dunk why the original search was shut down. She said: “I understand it was over concerns about negative body imaging”.
Dunk is right. Former Dolly boss Mia Freedman told me she was responsible to putting an end to the competition back in 2002:
“One of the first things I did when I became Editor In Chief of Dolly was to axe the Dolly Model Contest. At the time I felt strongly it was a negative thing for the readers and a negative thing for the Dolly brand.
I wanted the magazine to make a strong stand against the idea of valuing teenage girls purely for the way they look. Because no matter how you try to dress it up, the modelling industry is 100% based on external appearance, something few girls can ever change about themselves no matter how much they torture themselves. Girls who are able to model are a tiny tiny minority who were simply born with certain genetics.
No matter how you dress it up to be about ‘inspiration’, modelling is simply a beauty contest. And I’ve always felt – as a mother, a woman and an editor – that this was the wrong message to send to young girls when they are at their most vulnerable. Aren’t there better things for 13 and 14 year old girls to aspire to?