Magazine in row over 'child porn' fashion photos: 'Vogue' is accused of projecting women as sexually vulnerable. Roger Tredre reports

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The Independent Online
VOGUE, the world's glossiest fashion magazine, has been accused by psychologists and other women's magazines of publishing material verging on child pornography.

The June issue of the British edition of Vogue, published by Conde Nast and which is now on sale, features Kate Moss, the supermodel from Croydon, south London, wearing see-through knickers reminiscent of sex-shop merchandise. The pictures have provoked outrage.

Kay Toon, a clinical psychologist and co-author of Breaking Free, a book to help survivors of child sexual abuse, said: 'It's not far from being child pornography. People who are abusers of children can use images like these to reinforce their own desires.' The pictures projected women as 'child-like, frail and sexually vulnerable objects'.

The series of eight pictures, intended as a lingerie fashion shoot, depict the 19-year-old model in a sparsely furnished flat looking pre-pubescent and dressed in skimpy underwear. In one picture, she poses in socks and a see-through bra with a duvet wrapped around her. In another, she plays on a bed in a white T-shirt, lace briefs and tights. The caption reads: 'Hold me tights, don't let me go.'

Susie Orbach, a psychotherapist and writer, said: 'She looks like a child, innocent, helpless, almost a junkie. It's just this side of porn.'

The photographs, which are headlined 'Under-exposure', were shot by Corinne Day, who is considered a hot new property in fashion photography. Alexandra Shulman, editor of Vogue, claimed yesterday: 'They capture the spirit of the moment, the move away from the work ethic to a new way of dressing.'

In recent months, fashion magazines have stopped using the supermodels with shapely bodies and large breasts, who have dominated fashion since the mid-Eighties. The preference now is for teenage girls who wear minimal make-up and look barely out of school. Even within the fashion world, however, there is concern that the trend is being pushed too far.

Marcelle D'Argy Smith, editor of Cosmopolitan, said: 'The pictures are hideous and tragic. I believe they can only appeal to the paedophile market. If I had a daughter who looked like that, I would take her to see a doctor.'

Psychologists also claimed the pictures could encourage young women to extremes of dieting. But Ms Shulman said: 'I don't understand the fuss. It has been proved over and over again that anorexia and bulimia have nothing to do with fashion pictures. Models have always been thin. Kate Moss is shorter than most models, but no thinner.'

Some women's magazine editors criticised Vogue. Gill Hudson, editor of New Woman, said: 'Vogue is trying to experiment, but it hasn't worked. They're meaningless pictures.'

Jenny Barnett, assistant editor of Marie Claire, said: 'From a fashion point of view, it's neither modern, nor innovative.' However, Vicki Woods, editor of Harper's & Queen, said: 'When the pictures were shot three months ago maybe they summed up how the young felt: bleak, broke, sleeping baggy.'

(Photograph omitted)

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