It’s no new news that fashion embraces youth, and models continue to start younger and younger. It’s something we’ve just gotten used to and to hear about a 16 or 17 year old walking the runways in Paris and Milan is just as common as a Lindsay Lohan mishap where it was “definitely not her fault.” But it really gets you thinking…what exactly were you doing at this age? Probably not getting photographed by Annie Leibovitz (but if you were, good for you).
The inspiration for today’s post came from an article in yesterday’s WWD about a 17 year model (which is barely ground-breaking for this industry, although her age had little to do with the feature). Around fashion week, there’s always a lot of talk about young models and how young is too young? But then people forget about it and move on to the next (as we do best in fashion). Regardless of the labor laws, though, (which thankfully are better now), it doesn’t stop a 14 year old walking for Prada. Now of course if given the opportunity, how can you say no? Oh you want little old ME to wear Prada at Milan Fashion Week? I’ll have to check my schedule… Can you imagine doing something like that when you were 14? Think about it — what were you doing when you were 14? Personally, I was trying to learn Algebra (or some sort of math I knew I’d never use), wearing either Abercrombie or Juicy (and loving every second of it), and being driven to the movies by my parents. It’s crazy to think that some of these girls are that age and doing what could not be more opposite. At the same time when you’re a teenager, you’re just trying to fit in. Were you confident enough to have the world watch you walk down a runway or go on go-sees to just hear people criticize you before you could even legally drive a car? I’ve always considered myself a fairly confident person but when I was 14 or 15? No way I’d be able to do such things. Lucky for me, I’ve consistently been an average height and size so of course, this was nothing I had to worry about. But to put it all into perspective ten or so years later really gets you thinking.
17 year old Natali Eydelman walks for Marc Jacobs
Like one minute, you’re taking notes in class and the next your jetting off to Paris Fashion Week? Holy Shit. I can’t even wrap my head around that. But it happens everyday, everywhere all over the world. Then you end up playing “guess her age” and you’re almost always wrong. Like how old do you think this girl is?
It’s Natali again…and yes, she’s still 17 (I guess the bellybutton ring gives it away)
So then fast forward to 17…I definitely felt more “grown up” but by no means was I close to that. I moved on from Abercrombie and Juicy to shopping at boutiques in the city with my friend Jennifer (like in Bucktown when there were still bars on the windows, very few restaurants and no hipsters…if you can remember such a thing). I could finally drive and thought it was so cool (and who would’ve thought I’d still drive like a 17 year old to this day?) I was thinking about prom and what dress I should wear, trying not to get caught for underage drinking (as J-Kwon once said “Teen drinking is very bad”…but he’s got a fake ID though), applying to college — the usual stuff. What I wasn’t doing? Living in a model apartment (no parents…woo hoo!), walking in runway shows wearing ridiculously expensive clothing no one else your age has come close to wearing, mingling with fashion icons, or just being interviewed by WWD for that matter. But for the tall, pretty and skinny ones who happen to get discovered during those wonderful years, that is their life.
So the question is — what were you doing at 17? Or even 14 for that matter? Am I just over analyzing this situation or is it insane what these girls are doing at such a young age?
Images via Fashion Gone Rogue & WWD