Model was 15 when she posed for this shot. Now she's suing.

Hailey Clauson is 15 years old in this photo

While the media get themselves into a righteous lather about something Alex Perry said on Australia’s Next Top Model (you can read about that in today’s NewsBites post here),  there’s a far bigger model scandal erupting in the US.

Before I leave Frockwriter’s Patty Huntington to fill you in on the details of that and for you to discuss Alex Perry’s comments (that are said to have been taken out of context), I have something I’ve been BUSTING to say about modelling for a long time now and it’s this:

If you do not want to be judged on how you look and what you weigh, do not become a model.

If you do not want your daughter to be judged on how she looks and what she weighs, do not let her become a model.

Same with your son.

If you do not want your daughter to be photographed looking sexy and made to look much much older than she is, do not let her become a model.

If you don’t not want your daughter’s self-esteem to be DIRECTLY and inextricably linked to her weight and appearance, do not let her become a model.

If you don’t want your daughter to believe her value as a person is determined solely by how she looks and what she weighs, do not let her become a model.

If you don’t want your daughter’s self confidence to be smashed to smithereens by an industry that rejects her 99% of the time based on how she looks or what she weighs, do not let her become a model.

It is not the responsiblity of the modelling industry to take care of your kids or boost their self-esteem.

There. Got it? It’s pretty damn simple.

Now to the case of Hailey Clauson who is suing various companies over this shot which she claims has damaged her reputation. Patty Huntington has a detailed post about it on her Frockwriter blog but here are the basics:

Another day, another tabloid scandal involving controversial fashion images of an underage model. On Friday The New York Post broke the news that American Hailey Clauson has commenced proceedings in the New York federal court against American photographer Jason Lee Parry and three US retailers, including the US streetwear chain Urban Outfitters, over the sale of merchandise featuring sexually provocative images of Clauson that were shot by Parry when Clauson was 15.

Clauson, who turned 16 in March this year – and last December, told New York magazine that she still sleeps with her baby blanket – is seeking US$28million in damages. Court papers claim that although Clauson’s representation at the time, New York’s Ford Models, obtained an assurance from Parry that the images would not be published, the shots were subsequently published in Germany’s Qvest magazine.

The court papers allege that “She is posed in a blatantly salacious manner with her legs spread, without a bra, revealing portions of her breasts. The image of Teen in a spread eagle position making her crotch area the focal point of the image may portray a child in a sexually suggestive manner and may be in violation of one or more federal and/or state laws”.

Earlier today a statement signed “Team Parry” was released to a number of blogs on behalf of the photographer. According to the statement:

– The model’s father was present for a majority of the shoot. He was shown photos while on set and sanctioned them long before they were published.

-There was absolutely no breasts or genitalia visible in the image in question. There is less skin observable in the image than could be seen in any contemporary bathing suit photo.

Evidently there are a number of facts in dispute in this case. But some evidence seems incontrovertible: that at 15, Clauson posed in a sexually suggestive manner for Parry. Just as at 14, she posed in an equally sexually suggestive manner for Gorna.

Just a reminder that Clauson is no consenting adult. She is a minor.

If underage models continue to appear in these kinds of photoshoots , it is solely because adults have enabled them.

Exactly. I am forever baffled by any adult who consents to their daughter becoming involved in modelling. Just. Don’t. Do. It. The people in the industry are not monsters but they’re also not interested in the welfare or self-esteem of models. They just want pretty pictures. Sexy pictures. Pictures that will conform to their impossible ideal of perfection in the hope it will make people buy things.

“Oh but she really wants to do it” I hear parents say. Sure she does. Kids and teenagers REALLY want to do lots of things. Surely our role as parents is to help guide them towards good choices and away from those that can damage them physically, mentally or emotionally.

I think modelling ticks every one of of those damaging boxes.

So whose responsibility is it when it comes to the welfare of models and particularly the way underage models are depicted? Who wins when a 14 year old girl who sleeps with her baby blanket is dressed up to look 24 and told to spread her legs by a room full of adults?