Fashion has long worshipped at the altar of youth.
Most models are discovered in their teens, when they've just barely started high school, and walk their first shows shortly thereafter. (Karlie Kloss, for example, signed with Elite Model Management at age 15.)
But that doesn't mean everyone is turning a blind eye to the issue of young girls getting whisked into the very adult world of fashion too early. Just last month, the CFDA released its revised health guidelines for models in an attempt to preclude the development of eating disorders; the rise of panels discussing healthy body image and the launch of the Model Alliance also represent a growing concern for how models are being both treated and received in the couture world.
The issue of underage models reared its head again at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on Monday. Though 16 is the minimum model age recommended by the CFDA, at least two of Marc Jacobs' 50+ runway models from Monday's show were under 16, the New York Times reports.
When contacted by that paper, though, Jacobs frankly said he doesn't care:
"I do the show the way I think it should be and not the way somebody tells me it should be," he said. "If their parents are willing to let them do a show, I don't see any reason that it should be me who tells them that they can't."
The models in question are teens Thairine Garcia and Ondria Hardin, both of whom are represented by Ford Models.
The CEO of the CFDA, Steven Kolb, recently told Fashionista that the org isn't too thrilled that designers like Jacobs continue to stock their runways with teen girls.
"We continually message the importance of models 16 and over. In the instances where we might see a girl under 16, we'll let the designer know that. A lot of times the designer doesn't know."
But as long as teens' parents give them express permission to model at a young age, is it OK? Or should fashion designers and execs crack down on letting girls under 16 into any aspect of modeling?
Tell us what you think in the comments, and click over to the NY Times to read more about the CFDA's determination to keep underage girls off the catwalks.