Parents take girl, 12, off catwalk

The parents of a 12-year-old girl have put her modelling career on hold following the outcry over her sophisticated appearance in a fashion shoot in which she wore adult clothes.

Rachel Kirby, from north London, was signed up by the Select Model Agency last month after she was spotted shopping with a friend. By her 13th birthday she was expected to be earning pounds 500 a day.

But the decision to employ Rachel has prompted concern over the increasingly young age that models begin their careers, and the example they set for women and young girls, many of whom are obsessed by their weight. A recent survey revealed that half of 11- and 12-year-old girls believed they were overweight.

The Select agency, which has 70 schoolgirls on its books, denied yesterday it was exploiting Rachel. It said that with the backing of her parents, James Kirby, a chartered engineer studying law, and his wife Gaye, a charity worker, it had put her career on hold to protect her from "press interest".

Although Rachel is only 12, she is 5ft 10in, and appears much older in photographs taken for ID magazine. She is heavily made-up and pouting in the style of adult models, but she has the skinniness of a child known as the waif look.

Dr Dee Dawson, who runs the Rhodes Farm Clinic in London for anorexic children, said: "There are two problems here, one for the girl who will be absolutely terrified by the changes happening to her body, because she will no longer be placed in the 'superwaif' category.

"Secondly there is the problem for the 16- and 17-year-old girls who see these pictures in magazines, and will aspire to a figure which is completely impossible."

Other agencies said yesterday they would resist employing such young girls in the first place. Although most will take on 14-year-olds part- time, they would be reluctant to expose them to the spotlight until they were at least 16.

Jose Fonseca, director of Models One which represents Yasmin Le Bon, Twiggy and Jerry Hall, said: "You are playing around with their childhood, it's just too young and they need their time to grow up and for their bodies to change shape."

She added: "The older models have actually become much more popular because women are fed up of buying clothes and make-up that is modelled by a 16- year-old. A lot of the American designers, including Donna Karan, are using the older ones because women want to see real women."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn