#1980 New Zealand Fashion Week should impose an age restriction on models walking shows

Photo: Katherine Lowe

Murray Crane, who’s a cynical kind of guy, wrote a list of things that would invariably occur during this year’s New Zealand Fashion Week. One thing he mentioned was that there would be the usual plus-size/too-skinny/underage model debacle. Proving him right, last night I was interviewed by Jim Mora for Radio New Zealand about the use of hyper-sexualised underage models. According to the Herald, models as young as 14 have been hitting the runways wearing inappropriate outfits. While this will come as no surprise to anybody who keeps a close eye on industry news, it should not be happening in a market like New Zealand. Auckland’s a small town. There are maybe six stylists who work regularly, they know all the models and all the agents, and they should take responsibility and not allow an underage girl to be presented to the public in age-inappropriate outfits.

For a young teenage girl, modelling must be the most aspirational career path imaginable. What better way to boost the self esteem than to be paid because you look good. So with that in mind, if a respected stylist asks a girl to wear an outfit she might not feel comfortable wearing, she’s not going to say no because she doesn’t want to rock the boat or potentially mess up her gig. New Zealand Fashion Week should impose a 16 year old age limit for girls walking in shows, and stylists should impose an 18 year old age limit for girls wearing sexed up outfits.

In a market as small as Auckland, this kind of thing would not be hard to police. Why doesn’t somebody just make a stand? That way, cynics like Murray Crane would not necessarily have so much hot air with which to fill their sails.


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  1. birdhead says

    “What better way to boost the self esteem than to be paid because you look good.”

    What, indeed? Why, this feminist nonsense of girls and women being valued for their intelligence, wit, courage, hard work, or skills will surely only lead to low self-esteem, because teenage girls know more or less the minute they hit 13 that what they should really value about themselves is their appearance …

  2. Rebeccah says

    I understand both the below comments, and I would say I stand on the more feminist side of the debate. I also think that lots of teenaged girls would love to be models. Just look at Next Top Model all around the world. Heaps of girls audition season after season. They may also be intelligent, witty, courageous etc but lots of people like to be noticed for looking good.
    The more important point, I think, is having an industry standard around age/age-appropriateness. Isaac’s suggestions of 16 and 18 seem reasonable and achievable to me, so what’s the problem? Why isn’t this the NZ Fashion Week standard?

  3. Guest says

    I’m a model and my agency says there is a 16 year age minimum for
    fashion week. It’s just not that well policed and a lot of agencies
    ignore it.

  4. Sarahtheobald says

    if some idiot parent lets their 14 year old girl do fashion week in ‘age inappropriate’ outfits so be it. why should agents and stylists parent these girls instead of their actual parents? why should it be the industry to ‘set the standard ‘ and take away  individual choice and decision?
    yes, to some people, letting your young teenage daughter strut down the runway with her nipples peeping through her top is outrageous. but maybe some people don’t really care at all. who is to say that a 14 year model old is being exploited but in fact is actually pretty well adjusted and confident? maybe she doesnt care about not ‘being a kid’ in return for a potentially awesome career? or maybe her parents are just loose and she will become an overtly sexual being in a few years time. oh well…maybe that’s not a bad thing either.if you don’t want to be in a situation like that then don’t go to a casting. don’t say yes in the first place. young girls modeling actually does bother me a bit, but rubbish suggestions like this bother me even more. it’s a tough world, why should auckland be any different? especially if we want to be level with the rest of the world. how will we get there if we keep on wrapping everything up in cotton wool? im not saying they should be open to being exploited and do things they shouldn’t do. not at all! they should be strong enough to speak up if they are feeling weird, uncomfortable and to say no in the first place. and that is not something a stylist should do for them all of a sudden when they are 14 years old. it should be in their character already. one word – parenting. 

  5. Rebeccah says

    What if some idiot parent is fine with their 14 year old girl getting into prostitution? Don’t you think society should have something to say to protect her?

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