Parents take girl, 12, off catwalk
Wednesday 08 May 1996
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."
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party is the right choice for you
General election: Conservatives mocked online over Boris Johnson's claim of SNP 'jockalypse'
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...