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How Young is Too Young for Modeling?

How Young is Too Young for Modeling?
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How young is too young for girls to work as models? Recently, a 14-year-old opened Christian Dior show in Paris, renewing an ongoing debate on the age of models.

Many children have dreamed of growing up and living the glamorous life of a fashion model.

Sofia Mechetner, 14, is living that dream, and enjoying it, despite some who say she is too young.

"I feel ready and I am not alone, I am being looked after, closely. They are treating me really nicely here. Everything I ask for is being taken care of, they help me. So the fact that I am 14 years old is not really an issue," she said.

It's not an issue for her manager, Rotem Gur, either.

"Before she started with Dior she was cleaning houses with her mother so if she is not too young to clean houses, I don't think she is too young to walk on a show," said Gur.

But others - like Caroline Rush with the British Fashion Council - are not so sure.

“All of the designers that are contracted to London Fashion Week, the models must be 16 or over. We think that's really important," said Rush.

Carlo Capasa of Italy’s National Chamber of Fashion said Italian models must also be no younger than 16,

"Yes, there are rules. In Italy we don't use models that are under 16. (They are) too young," said Capasa.

Models themselves have their own take on how young is too young.

"I think you should start modeling at 18. I mean, that is the age I started up,” said model Neelam Gill.

"You do get scrutinized, you do get disappointment and that's very hard to take when you are 14 or 16. Eighteen, you are a little bit more experienced but even at 18 ... I was probably ready by 21, 22," said David Gandy, a male model.

But Karl Lagerfeld, of the Chanel Fashion House, said the public wants to see young models.

"They can identify even if it's not the same age group. That's the girls of the moment, fashion is about the moment. I'm an opportunist, a fashion opportunist, but there's nothing bad about that because that's our business," said Lagerfeld.

It remains to be seen if the business is going to continue to allow children to be the new face of fashion.

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    Faiza Elmasry

    Faiza Elmasry writes stories about life in America. She wrote for several newspapers and magazines in the Middle East, covering current affairs, art, family and women issues.  Faiza joined VOA after working in broadcasting in Cairo for the Egyptian Radio and Television Corporation and in Tokyo for Radio Japan.