When I was 14, my life revolved around my friends and school. I watched MTV, complained about too much homework, and didn’t really think about the future.
When you’re 14, you’re not a child anymore, but you’re definitely not an adult either. You’re a teenager: mostly naive and pretty clueless. Signing a $200,000 contract with Dior when you’ve just started puberty might seem impossible, but it’s exactly what happened to Israeli girl Sofia Mechetner.
It’s a modern fairy tale: Living in poverty with her mother and two younger siblings, Sofia gets signed by a modeling agency who send her to Paris where she is at the right time at the right place (a Dior boutique where designer Raf Simons happened to be too) and gets offered a lot of money for seemingly little work.
Shortly after, she walks in a Dior fashion show wearing a very sheer dress, which of course gives her and the fashion label a lot of publicity. Apparently it was “all for art” and not meant to look sexy. Right.
Sofia is of course happy to earn money to support her family, Dior is happy to have found such a beautiful girl, and they lived happily ever after. Now, let’s talk about the problem here, shall we?
Why does a multi-million dollar designer house feel the need to pay a young teenager to wear their clothes, which are meant to be bought by adult women? Why does anybody think it is a good idea to take a young girl out of school and put her on a runway with hundreds of (adult) photographers taking pictures of her with her not yet fully developed breasts showing through the transparent fabric of her dress?
When you are 14, you don’t know what your rights are. You feel self-concious and insecure and you will believe anything you are told, because you don’t know any better. In other words, you are easily exploited. You are exploited of your kindness and innocence, and most of all, your time to be a child.
The fashion world is tough and even though we are constantly confronted with youthfulness, it is a very adult world. The CFDA and the British Fashion Council have banned models under the age of 16 from New York and London Fashion Week, but Paris remains irreverent.
There is no need for any 14-year old girl to model. Enjoy your childhood and teenage years. Hang out at shopping centres, play sports and worry about exams, not about photo shoots. Once you’re 18, you’ll have enough time to do all the adult things you were naively looking forward to.
I don’t blame Sofia or her family for taking this opportunity, but I am disappointed by Dior. When they made the decision to sign Sofia, they didn’t just make a business decision, they changed a girl’s life. Let’s hope they changed it for the better.
Image via web.de