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France

French report calls for ban on Lolita lingerie

Text by Sophie PILGRIM

Latest update : 2012-03-05

A report commissioned by the French government has called for a ban on "Mini-Miss" beauty pageants and children’s lingerie in the wake of a worldwide controversy over a Vogue magazine cover featuring a provocative image of a 10-year-old girl.

The controversy began in the US – the land of pre-teen beauty pageants – when the media got wind of the December 2010 cover of French Vogue magazine, which featured a provocatively dressed and heavily made-up 10-year-old, Thylane Loubry Blondeau.

The Vogue shoot that sparked the controversy
Ten-year-old Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau poses for the December 2010 French edition of women's fashion magazine, Vogue. Blondeau is daughter of TV presenter Veronika Loubry and international football player Patrick Blondeau.

Fifteen months later, a parliamentary report on the “hyper sexualisation” of prepubescent children has been released in France. Entitled “Against hyper-sexualisation, a new fight for equality,” the paper calls for regulations that would ban child-sized adult clothing, including padded bras and high-heeled shoes, and see an end to beauty pageants for under-16s.

“This phenomenon is a real concern for society,” the author of the report, UMP senator Chantal Jouanno, told Le Figaro.fr on Sunday. “Today, children are forming their identities in a context of declining gender equality and growing stereotypes featured in music videos, toys and reality TV,” said the former French minister for sport, adding that “As parents and politicians, this is our responsibility.”

Her report outlines the psychological effects sexualisation can have on children, especially girls. Damage is irreversible in 80% of cases, and can also lead to disorders such as anorexia, the report details.

Jouanno argues that while the sexualisation of children is not rampant in France, it is increasingly becoming acceptable because of what she describes as the “normalisation” of pornographic images.

But for the time being, those who actively defend dressing girls up as women – including Blondeau’s mother – remain a minority. According to a survey carried out by parenting website Magicmaman in the wake of the Vogue controversy, 84% of 1,200 participating mothers said that they found the images of Thylane demeaning.

'Bring back school uniforms'

FRANCE'S FIRST 'MINI-MISS'
The “Mini-Miss France” contest, reserved for girls aged between seven and 12, has been running since 1990. The first ever winner, seen here on the cover of French Christian magazine, La Vie, later became a judge on the competition.

Jouanno’s report was commissioned by Roselyne Bachelot, the French minister for unity and social cohesion, following similar initiatives in Quebec, Belgium and the UK. Last year, a British report entitled “Letting children be children” recommended excluding sexual imagery from children’s daily lives by targeting advertising and pre-watershed television programming.

Jouanno wants the French government to go further. She recommends restricting beauty pageants to girls aged over 16 or 18 and banning advertisers from dressing underage models in adult attire. She also advocates the reintroduction of uniforms in primary schools.

Asked by Le Figaro whether her report would be discarded if the opposition Socialists won forthcoming elections, Jouanno argued that the issue was a major concern for parties on both sides of the aisle. “In any case,” she argued, “the measures I’m suggesting are very simple to put in place. And besides, they will not cost a penny.”


 

Date created : 2012-03-05

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