Is 13 too young for a girl to become a fashion model? That's the question facing Australian teenager Maddison Gabriel, who was recently picked as the ambassador of Gold Coast Fashion Week.
Is this girl too young to model?
Supermodel Janice Dickinson spoke with Matt this morning, and in her view, 13 is indeed too young. WATCH VIDEO
Whenever I hear a story like this, I think of two things:
1. What is the role of the parents here?
2. What are the child labor laws?
Yes, there are stage parents out there who will do anything to make their kids (and, by extension, themselves) rich and famous. And Janice Dickinson would know better than I do about the physical and emotional travails of being a model. But at some point, don't we have to trust parents to make the right decisions for their children?
I'm not sure there's a major difference between being a Hollywood actress at 13 and being a fashion model at that age. Jessica Alba, who also appeared on the show this morning, signed with an agent for the first time when she was about the same age as Maddison.
Some people also make the argument that girls are not permitted to compete in some Olympic sports, like figure skating and gymnastics, until age 16. But those girls are allowed to compete in lower-profile competitions, and the age limit is largely to keep growing girls from undergoing the physical rigors of sport.
From his standpoint, Australian Prime Minister John Howard thinks Maddison should be kept off the runway. "Catapulting girls as young as 12 into something like this is outrageous," he said. "There should be age limits, I mean there has to be. We do have to preserve some notion of innocence in our society."
But does being a fashion model inherently rob a 13-year-old girl of her innocence? I'm not sure there necessarily is a correlation there -- as long as the parents and employers have an understanding of what is appropriate for a teenage girl to do, from both a moral and a legal standpoint.