Fashion Scandal: Men boasting badly. What's new about that?

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The Independent Online
FOR HIS debut series, MacIntyre Undercover, Donal MacIntyre chose to infiltrate the worlds of football hooliganism and fashion. That is hardly surprising. Hooligans are all too ready to mouth off about their violence, and middle-aged men in the fashion industry are likely to boast about their sexual intentions towards young, beautiful women. Such "exposes", although guaranteed to generate attention- grabbing headlines, are hardly challenging.

That said, there is no question that any young woman undertaking a career in modelling is vulnerable, particularly today when girls as young as 12 are seen as potential assets. There is far too much opportunity for them to be exposed to drugs and, yes, the attention of men old enough to be their fathers.

Competition is fierce: There are only a few superstars. Most girls dreaming of being the next Kate Moss will be disappointed and their quest may become more desperate as they realise that they are unlikely to succeed.

The Elite agency is unusual for being run by heterosexual men. Most agencies are run by women and gay men. And women usually chaperone the younger models around the world, which is just as it should be. Even in the case of Elite, although watching Gerald Marie crow about his potential conquests made for depressing viewing, Mr MacIntyre proved nothing. None of the men was caught on film either paying for sex or forcing himself on any young woman. They simply bragged about it - as some men do. There must surely be other, more pernicious targets.

What was noticeable was that Mr MacIntyre failed to direct any of his pompous moral outrage towards the families of the young models. And, had the roving reporter infiltrated the executive levels of the film, advertising or music industries, he would have thrown up equally sleazy material.

They all sell youth, beauty and sex in a way that the politically correct among us might find unacceptable. They have rarely claimed to do anything else.

The public must bear some of the responsibility for responding, however. So long as society values such things, the young, beautiful and sexually desirable are going to be at risk in fashion and in the world at large.

Susannah Frankel

Fashion Editor