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Should 14-Year-Old Model Roos Abels Be Walking the Runway?


Dutch girls are regulars on any fashion runway, but one in particular has folks buzzing. Roos Abels, the 14-year-old babydoll-faced beauty, has been turning heads, partially because, well, she’s gorgeous, but also because her young age isn’t stopping her from gracing the runway.

The Brave Models newcomer just walked in Prada’s Spring 2015 show as well as for Giambattista Valli‘s new line, Giamba, which has raised more than a few eyebrows. In the past few years, the fashion industry at large has been taking steps to reform the modeling business. Vogue launched its health initiative in 2012, a plan that included a commitment to avoid using girls under the age of 16. The magazine has since had a few hiccups on that front. Vogue China published an editorial with Ondria Hardin soon after the initiative was announced, though the mag said the shoot was produced before the agreement was reached. Vogue Mexico printed a spread with then 15-year-old Julie Borawska last year.  

Last October, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in New York giving under-aged models rights similar to those of child performers. This legislation doesn’t extend beyond the borders of New York, but it seems that members of the industry were hoping designers would at least try to adhere to the example set by Vogue and the state of New York.

Indeed, the call for using only models ages 16 and over didn’t reach the ears of Miuccia Prada, who had no problem casting Roos in her Spring 2015 show. Roos might look a couple years older (we were honestly surprised to find out she was 14), but a 14-year-old girl is a child, period. Sure, she’s not doing brain surgery or running for political office, but the fact remains that Prada and Giambattista Valli are selling clothes to grown women. To put a child on the runway and call it aspirational seems a bit unfair to customers.  

While we can argue that casting directors and designers should take more responsibility, let’s be real. Fashion is an artistic industry driven by aesthetics. If a designer thinks someone is beautiful, they’re going to use them no matter what. If a photographer thinks a girl from the Netherlands would be perfect to depict an African Queen, they’re going to cast her. If a magazine has taken a liking to a certain shutterbug regardless of his questionable behavior, they’re going to use him. While there are people who make an effort to stick to certain guidelines and morals, in a creative industry, you can’t expect everyone to acknowledge the rules. Especially when they’re making a decision in the name of artistic license.

We’re not sure if Prada or Giamba plans to use Roos again, but as the 14-year-old’s Instagram profile reads, “No one can stop me now.” And if her runway appearances so far are any indication, she’s probably right.