Nah, who decides here what is in the best interests of the child in a case where that child can be commercially exploited whether that be in the fashion world or on TV or anywhere else for that matter. This issue has come to a head in Australia when a 14 year old Polish model, Monika Jagaciak, was invited to be a part of Fashion Week.
What should be the minimum age for models to work in the industry. In a technical sense anyone under the age of 18 is a child and therefore the legal capacity to enter into contracts and the like is restricted. The legal functions are normally fulfilled by a parent or guardian of age who can make these legal decisions on behalf of the child. So, in this case, if a 14 year old Polish model has the permission and support of her parents and all things are above board then what is the problem?
If we are going to institute a minimum age for certain professions then this is a slippery slope. What should the minimum age for a child actor be? Let's face it, child actors are exploited in much greater numbers than children working as models. Child labor is a serious issue and one that must be addressed on a global scale and in a comprehensive manner because there is child labor and then there is "child labor". This is not a case of a young girl being forced into work breaking stones or stitching shoes to make ends meet for a family living below the poverty line.
Once again assuming that everything is above board and that she is earning what she deserves for the work she is doing in comparison to other models, then who should make the decision on whether this is in the best interests of the child?
Yet, the real issue here might not be the exploitation or the sexualization of children (although this is a serious problem in its own right) but rather the peer pressure that teens, particularly teenage girls, are under with regards to body image. It is often cited that these body image pressures lead to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
For me though the issue is one that where kids start working at a young age they miss out on being kids. They do not get to enjoy life like other kids and it is these experiences in these formative years that colour your views of the world in your adult life!
This particular issue blew-up because there is also a provocative picture of the then 13 year old Monika Jagaciak in a swimsuit being hosed down. Once again though if the standard is that a photograph that may be used in an ad campaign of a child in a swimsuit is exploitation of the child then who should make this determination? The parents? A guardian? The Government?