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Australian Fashion Week dumps 14-year-old model


A 14-year-old Polish girl has been dumped from Australian Fashion Week (AFW) after organisers bowed to public pressure to adopt a minimum age of 16 for its models.

The controversial decision to feature 14-year-old Monika Jagaciak in the major Sydney fashion event was reversed "in light of industry and community concern regarding the acceptable age for models".

"Effective immediately, both male and female models participating in Rosemount Australian Fashion Week will need to be at least 16 years of age and must be represented by a model agency," AFW said in a statement.

Monika, who was to have been flown to Sydney for the event which begins on April 28, has previously fronted a campaign for French fashion house Hermes and has been photographed in a white swimsuit being sprayed by a shower jet.

Vogue magazine added to the pressure for an age limit of 16 to be adopted, saying it would not feature Monika in its AFW coverage.

AFW founder Simon Lock said he was happy to take the lead from the community.

"Policies are constantly revisited and endorsed by the AFW's industry advisory board to ensure the event best served the industry and reflected community attitudes towards issues surrounding the fashion industry," Mr Lock said.

Australian Childhood Foundation chief executive officer Joe Tucci said it was a responsible but belated position.

"I think it is a long overdue decision because it recognises that children shouldn't be pushed into an adult world without us thinking about the consequences," Dr Tucci said.

"It finally recognises kids need to be protected engaging in adult-type activities.

"It also puts us in line with other countries around the world."

However, well-known fashion writer Patty Huntington said AFW organisers had overreacted, and that many famous models began their careers in their early teens.

"It's a contentious issue because some people think that 14-year-olds shouldn't be modelling, but by the same token you may as well say 14-year-old shouldn't be acting either and there are plenty of child actors," Ms Huntington told Macquarie Radio.

"Gemma Ward would not have been able to participate in fashion week and Twiggy and Kate Moss would not have been able to participate in London fashion week - both of those models started when they were 15."

Dr Tucci said the key difference was that child actors portrayed children, while child models often portrayed adults.

Earlier Friday, the NSW government said it was "comfortable" with the involvement of the 14-year-old model in AFW, provided organisers complied with their legal obligations.

These included ensuring she was given frequent breaks, worked shorter hours than adults and did not appear in "inappropriate" situations.

"As long as those standards are maintained, and she works within the requirements of our legislation under the guidance of the Children's Guardian, then NSW is comfortable," Community Services Minister Kevin Greene said.

But NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said Monika's involvement was "simply unacceptable".

"The fashion industry made it clear that no models should be employed under 16 and that's where it ought to end," Mr O'Farrell told reporters.

"Those who employed a 14-year-old have a lot to answer at a time when particularly young girls are under enormous stress in relation to body image."

Friday Apr 11 16:54 AEST

Reader Comments (10)

I totally agree that models should AT LEAST be 16! Honestly i can not imagine someone so young being in a business where things are beyond any young persons understanding. When i was that young i was very influensed by the people surronding me, i can only imagine the bad habbits she/he has picked up from being surrounded by people being pressured to go to dirastic messures to be thin. At the age of 14 you are still a child, enjoy it while you still can!
June 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAshley Robin
she still has a baby face...

this is probably why people cant tell how old a young girl is... b/c the media puts these young girls in sexy outfits in sexy poses...

13 looks like 17 now, 17 looks like 27.
March 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEkari <3
so adults should model children's clothing? Are people looking at the clothing or deciding which girl they would like to sex with?
May 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterme
Isn't she too young for the industry? She has a unique face and style nevertheless. Wait 1-2 years and you'll hit the stage. Good luck for the show!

Will -
July 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwillis
The smartest people do not need such socializations, lol.. I believe some even tend to feel better when they are alone.
August 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoyceSachs
All I am going to say is actually 3 cheers for the author.
Wouldn't that be too cruel? I feel sorry for the young models!
September 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjessie
Yes, I agree to the policy. They are not yet suitable for sexy poses and outifts, just to look a bit like the girls at Hot and tempting, but over 18 for sure. Wait some years until you're mature enough, then you have it all your ways.
September 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelinda
I think they are starting to find out the solution. That's not easy to fix the problem. Good luck!
September 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWhiteMelon
Wouldn't that be too cruel? I feel sorry for the young models!
December 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGinault Rolex

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