Is 13-year-old Elle Fanning’s Blackbook photo shoot inappropriate?

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Elle Fanning is the star of Super 8, which comes out today. She’s the 13-year-old little sister of Dakota Fanning. I can remember seeing Elle in an episode of Law & Order: SVU several years ago – and she was so tiny then! Puberty hit, and now she’s got the same lanky, slender, coltish body that her sister has. But she’s still 13! Still very much a GIRL. But she’s also a movie star, right? So that’s why she did a photo shoot and interview with Blackbook Magazine. And while most of the shots are just nice black-and-white fashion-y pics, with Elle styled to look slightly older, but still very girlish, there was one photo that kind of upset me. Here it is:

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Now, I sucked in my breath and went “Oh, no.” But it doesn’t really offend me, it just depresses me. I get that 13-year-old girls today are way more advanced than I was (although I was a wild 13-year-old, honestly), but my complaint isn’t about what Elle did or didn’t do. This, I feel, is the fault of BlackBook and whoever styled and photographed her. They purposefully wanted a “Lolita” shot, probably to hype the magazine. Maybe Elle’s people wanted it too, to hype the movie. But it’s just gross. I’m sure that she’s wearing a real dress or something in the shot, but it looks like lingerie. And they made her pose like an adult woman. Please don’t do this again to a 13 year old kid, people. And you know what’s even worse? Other sites tried to crop the image to make it less offensive too. I still think this version sucks:

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Anyway….here are some excerpts from Elle’s interview. You can read the whole thing here.

How Elle seems: Talking to Fanning, one begins to appreciate the beguiling blend of childhood and professionalism she represents. She squeals, giggles, sprinkles her speech with cusp-of-teen parlance (“like,” “oh my god,” “you know?”)—in short, she’s genuinely delightful. She also handles an interview like a seasoned vet, summoning equal parts deflection and flattery. (Fanning on the possibility of future career clashes with Dakota: “We haven’t gotten really competitive with movies yet. I don’t think we ever will.”) Like many children still on the lunch-pail side of puberty, Fanning is comfortable with herself. She’s comfortable with her age, her acting, and her unique traits, which are just beginning to come into focus: goofiness, intelligence, the discipline of a prima ballerina.

Elle on Super 8: “We were sort of scared,” says Fanning about maintaining the strict code of silence. “We didn’t want to slip up and say anything.” Even during the auditioning process, the plot of Super 8 remained obscure. Then the script arrived. “It was just, like, the biggest thing ever,” Fanning trills in her helium-balloon falsetto. “J.J. was so good with us,” she recalls of filming Super 8. “When we were doing the big train-crash sequence, all these explosions were going on, and there were so many people everywhere—and then you have these six kids. He had to take care of us and make sure that we weren’t getting into trouble. There was fire.” When he wasn’t acting as a sort of paternal deus ex machina, issuing stage directions through his ever-present microphone, Abrams was “like one of the kids,” according to Fanning. “He’s obsessed with his iPhone, obsessed with Angry Birds. He’d just be sitting in his chair playing Angry Birds.”

More on Super 8: “[Super 8] is based in the ’70s [1979], around the same time Steven and J.J. were growing up,” she says. “J.J. told me that Steven did exactly the same thing the kids in Super 8 are doing—he made crazy monster movies with his super 8 camera. You could tell he was really excited because he saw us doing what he did.”

Meeting Francis Ford Coppola: “I feel like he’s my Italian grandfather now!” He gave Fanning a piece of advice: “He told me, ‘You always have to love it. You can never just act because someone else wants you to. You always have to feel it in your heart,’ which, well, I thought that was great.” Giggling, as if realizing it for the first time, she says, “And it’s so true!”

[From BlackBook]

I hope she doesn’t turn into one of those oddly mature teenagers, flashing her bits on her 16th birthday. Dakota seems well-adjusted (but who knows?), so there’s hope.

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Photos courtesy of BlackBook.

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79 Responses to “Is 13-year-old Elle Fanning’s Blackbook photo shoot inappropriate?”

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  1. Marianne says:

    I don’t see anything inappropriate. It’s not like she’s rolling around in lingerie. I think she looks gorgeous in the shots. And I like all the cute pictures of her making faces.

  2. Eve says:

    This kind of thing — the Lolita styled photoshoot — depresses me too. Her face even looks like Brooke Shields’s back in the day (although Shields was fully naked in those pictures), the “Pretty Baby” year.

    And yesterday I was just saying I hoped she would remain “girlish”. Spoke too soon, I guess.

  3. danny says:

    There’s an age limit for getting a driver’s license.

    Why can’t we at least wait until a girl gets her Learner’s Permit before we dress them up for adult consumption?

  4. metatrix says:

    I don’t get what the big deal is. Nothing about that photo seems the least bit inappropriate to me. It’s not a sexy pose. It’s a sweet, totally age-appropriate fashion pose. And that dress looks nothing like lingerie. It looks like a pretty dress, and it isn’t too tight or revealing, either. I think people are just taking this one photo out of context and trying to twist it into something that it is not. She is 13, not a prepubescent six year old.

  5. Lucinda says:

    When compared with the series of funny face photos below, that one does really make you catch your breath and think, oooh…ick! The fact that it’s inappropriateness is even questionable says so much about how far the line has moved and how desensitized we have become to the sexualization of our children. So depressing. If that were my daughter at 13, there would definitely be some uproar from her mama!

  6. MJ says:

    For the most part, she looks pretty adorable.

    Spielberg was lying to her if he said he grew up in the 1970s! He would have been 33 in 1979.

  7. Mr. Greek says:

    As the dad of a beautiful 10 year old girl…GIRL, YES, this angers me, very much. We and the media have made it acceptable to consider the sexualization of children and young teens as being the norm, and for me to elaborate on the myriad of reasons why this is wrong would take me many a paragraph. Call me an overprotective dad, but I stand my ground.

  8. danielle says:

    Yeah, that shot seems designed to appeal to pedophiles.

  9. Rachface24 says:

    Eh, I’m not bothered too much by it. Those are obviously dancers leg warmers shes wearing. I think shes meant to look ballet-esque, not sexy

  10. HotPockets says:

    Pedophilia themes in high fashion are everywhere. Whether it be women over 18 styled like young girls with dolls and teddy bears as props or when they use very young girls and put them in provocative poses. All these models started out their careers (Adriana Lima, Karen Mulder) when they were about 13, 14 years old.

    Terry Richardson loves to incorporate his lolita, pedophile themes in all of his work.

    I would say this is innocent, but we have all just become desensitized to shoots like these. I don’t think all of the pictures are inappropriate, but the one where she is pant-less goes a little far.

  11. Trillion says:

    No question the stylists and photographers knew exactly what they were doing here but did she? I hope not. That’s a lot of weirdness for a girl to have to handle.

  12. Raised brow says:

    Praise you, @Greek, and no need to apologize for being a *protective dad!

    *No need for the word ‘over’, either. It’s become quite apparent our children need all the protection we can give them.

  13. jacquie109 says:

    I just think her face looks odd on her body. She has that supper baby face and looks about 8 years old in most of the pictures but her body says otherwise. In the snap shots she looks like a 13 year old but the rest are weird. I don’t see anything wrong with the pics, like others said she fully dressed and isn’t posing sexually.

  14. David - a nudist says:

    Pretty? Yes. Inappropriate? No. I agree with those that defended these photos.

  15. Toe says:

    I see nothing shocking about these picture. She is not even in a sexual pose. There is nothing here…..

  16. duh says:

    What’s with the hand signs, are they asking her to do that or was it her idea? Creepy.

  17. duh says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t allow MY teenage daughter (if I had one) to pose like that and put the photos on the Internet (who knows who’s looking at the pictures…) but it’s not my kid so I don’t care and let her parents decide.

  18. Mr. Greek says:

    Really, Phil? We’re making something out of nothing? And this mindset, folks, is exactly WHY it’s all so F’D up on so many levels.

  19. RocketMerry says:

    Sick. Young kids sometimes want to imitate adults. That’s when the adults should go “No, stop that!” in a very severe voice and not “Oh, yeah, go on…” in a reassuring voice. SICK.

  20. Whatever says:

    I have a 13 year old and I’d have a problem with a photographer posing her like that. My daughter is very innocent, not into boys in the least and enjoying every minute of her childhood. If she wants to dress sexy, she can do that when she is older, not at 13. Childhood is getting precariously short (seems to get shorter all the time) and we want our kids to savor it.

  21. Mr. Greek says:

    For the record, I don’t have a problem at all with the multiple “mugshots” of her, as they are cute…it’s the first two photos that tick me off.

  22. GoofPuff says:

    Look, the photograph is MEANT to be a Lolita shot. She is meant to look like a sexy 13 year old. She’s covered up but her posing and the styling of the dress with the thigh highs and the flashes of thigh, that is meant to be sexually alluring. That pose is a variation of crotch shot poses, except a little more demure.

  23. Mr. Greek says:

    Whatever, I feel the exact same way about my adorable 10 year old daughter. Kudos to you.

  24. djork says:

    She may not be exposing anything, but the subtext of the Pretty Baby photos is a beautiful, rumpled “woman” staring open-legged into a camera with a look that can be interpreted as desire that a 13-year old does not possess. Adult manipulation.

  25. Mr. Greek says:

    GoofPuff wrote: “Look, the photograph is MEANT to be a Lolita shot. She is meant to look like a sexy 13 year old.”

    WTH? And just how the HELL does that justify the photos? Give your head a shake, will ya?

  26. Turtle Dove says:

    I’m with you on this Kaiser. The top is too low and showing her inner-thigh like that is too sexualized. The other pictures are great, especially the facial expression montage.

    She’s a gorgeous girl and has plenty of time to do more mature photo-shoots.

  27. Alexa says:

    Where were you all during “Britney’s” heyday? Now SHE was a product that severely offended me.

  28. hatsumomo says:

    Aside from the photo shoot, I like Elle! I saw Super 8 last night/early this morning and it was AWESOME! It had a very throwback feel to the style and the way the characters were filmed. And I loved all the kids castin it, including the chubby one and the little pyro with the biggest buck teeth I ever seen on a kid. Elle was quite beautiful in the it, in a very sweet way that kinda breaks your heart. I recommend everyone go see it tonight if they can!

  29. Ally says:

    The more assertive women are in real life — in families, in the workplace, in society and politics — the more that ‘desirable’ women are pictured as slim and youthful, helpless and physically weak.

    This pictorial is grotesque. The photo you highlight is a 19th century hooker outfit paired with a dreamy come-hither look. (Google the paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec for reference.)

    I guess there aren’t enough 18+ actresses to photograph like this, you have to degrade the 13 year olds, too.

    Meanwhile, male actors mostly get photographed in suits and tuxes.

  30. Annie_Grey says:

    The knee to her face pose bothers me. The rest are fine.
    She’s a gorgeous & very talented kid (unlike Dakota). Her parents need to be careful about how she’s represented.

  31. taksi says:

    I don’t think the photos are meant to sexualize her. At least not consciously. But I think Lolita motifs exists in our culture and the editors, stylists, and photographer are used to working with that. We see that kinda stuff with adult models. I think Fanning is also at an awkward age. Teens are not asexual but they are also immature in many ways and it makes people uncomfortable.

  32. Dominique says:

    These pictures are quite beautiful.

  33. xxodettexx says:

    i think i dont agree that its inappropriate and join the chorus of “meh, its okay”… i mean, i grew up in the 80s and dressed a lot like a beach bunny [aka short shorts and skimpy tanks, lots of leg action), probably bc i mostly lived in the south or the Caribbean! :)

  34. gee says:

    She’s so pretty. It is a little old, but not inapropriate, IMO.

  35. snapnhiss says:

    I’m not seeing anything sexual here but she certainly is a beautiful girl.

  36. ladybert62 says:

    I am beginning to think that sexualization of children starts in the womb since they are getting younger and younger nowadays – 13 is too young to have a sexy photoshoot.

  37. Bella Mama says:

    ugh,absolutely inappropriate. I’m even more sad that some people think that the shot of her with thigh high socks/stockings is an appropriate pic for a 13 year old girl.

  38. 4Real says:

    As a mother the second picture is inappropriate. I wouldn’t allow it…

  39. lucy2 says:

    I’ve seen worse, but if I were her parent I would have vetoed those.

  40. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    I think the fact that it is meant to look like a Lolita shoot is the very thing that’s sticking in the craws of these upset parents. I don’t have kids, and since I do work with any anymore, I sure don’t hang out with them. From my uninitiated position though, I think I can see the source of the consternation expressed. When all is told, when is it ever not a Lolita scenario? How did that aesthetic become the go-to? It’s certainly not groundbreaking and even the liberally-minded viewer could say that it’s highly unoriginal and lazy to go back to this well, no matter what that person’s personal ethics may say.

    Anyway, is she the new one that has to be in everything, now? I just hate it when kids call adults by their first name. The older one did that, too. I’m not demanding a ‘seen, not heard (entirely)’ scenario, but hearing a pre-teen go on about the upcoming wedding of ‘Tom and Kate’…it’s strangely distasteful to me. Just because children and adults alike deserve to be treated with respect and care, it doesn’t mean they’re equals. I guess that reaction was inherited from my mother, who would lost not only her own shit, but the shit of the entire snow belt, St. Lawrence Lowlands and far beyond. Is it still like that? I remember teachers all the way into high school sometimes never letting us know their first names, should things get too familiar. Maybe it’s just not like that, now.

  41. John Wayne Lives says:

    hmm, inappropriate, maybe not. But it certainly allows in the sexual element to this child that they could have waited a few more years to attach to her. And i totally agree the stylists and photographer knew what they were doing. Did she? To a certain extent. I think it depends on what she’s already been introduced to as acceptable. I fight to keep my almost 13year old innocent. She remarks to me things like “my friends think it’s weird that I’ve never been to a ‘real’ party” I say, “you’ve been to a ton of parties” she says “I mean like party’s of people just my age”. Now, I know what she means. I also know some of the parents in our community/her school who allow these kid only parties. And I know that some of these parents allow underage drinking at these parties. And I say, “well, we do things differently”.
    I could give a rats ass about the status quo. I have an insanely beautiful girl (who, interestingly enough has had alot of people comment on how much she looks like Dakota Fanning)who will have her whole life to be a woman and discover her own sexuality etc. I want her to be a girl, free from all the image garbage, for as long as possible. The oversexualization of girls is sad to me. I see it all the time in my daughters peers. 12 year olds kissing their boyfriends in front of the JrHigh when I go pick up my daughter, and boys bragging about which girls let them finger them. I’m not kidding people. I hope her parents put the kibosh on future photo shoots like this.

  42. John Wayne Lives says:

    And I would also like to humbly add…I think if she was wearing a pair of jeans in that 2nd pic, all of this would be a non-issue. And I think the rest of the photo shoot is darling.
    It is OKAY to think girls should be appropriately dressed!

  43. Maritza says:

    She is a beautiful kid with a model’s body. I get the feeling she is well grounded and probably will follow her sister’s steps by doing all the right things.

  44. Pirouette says:

    The viewer can CHOOSE to look at these pictures as sexual, I suppose. That says little, however, about the photographs and their intended meaning. I do not think her gaze into the camera is seductive, as some posters suggest. Again, that isn’t what I’m looking for, though.

    Just as we are desensitized to sexualized images of young women, we are trained to view all women as sexual objects. As a society, we have a difficult time seeing women outside of that context. It is our responsibility as consumers to break that pattern, as it is the producer/artist’s responsibility to reject sexual objectification for profit.

  45. serena says:

    I think she will be just fine :)

  46. telesma says:

    The second shot is very Pretty Baby, but the rest are fine. She’s a lovely girl.

  47. aloe juice says:

    i think that’s the mama bear in you wanting to protect her, but otherwise i don’t find it offensive because she just oozes such pure innocence…

    i love her!!! i think she’s such a beauty

  48. imabrat says:

    She’s such a beautiful child; I sure hope she doesn’t go the way of Lohan and those before her. So much promise, she’s a good actress and seems grounded.

  49. OMG says:

    totally cool, besides I don’t see anyone else giving a shit when actual models who are young appear like they are 21 in ads and mags???

  50. Missy says:

    She’s beautiful…the picture everyone has a problem with isn’t inappropriate at all to me. She isn’t oozing sex, it’s just her beauty.

  51. Lisa Turtle says:

    The thigh high stockings are the problem. That style of stocking never looks elegant. It’s the “dirty school girl” look. Girls like Taylor Momsen wear them, not to look innocentl, no. To look like a whore. Whoever styled this shoot was probably just like ZOMG – This chick weights 90 lbs! Fashion industry failure.

  52. bitca says:

    @telesma: exactly. Nothing new. Anyone old enough to remember the Brooke Shields ‘Controversy?’ Beautiful 13 yr-old girls know what they’re doing in shoots like this. Like it or not, has nothin’ to do with ‘Today.’

  53. Belle Epoch says:

    @djork – ditto that. Manipulation of her, and manipulation of the viewer.

    I’m pretty sure for the “cute” pictures someone asked her to be different animals. They are refreshing, compared to the other shots.

  54. beth says:

    i love the one making faces, but the second one, where her leg is drawn up directing the eye to her crotch, i would veto. when my sis was 15, and that wasn’t very long ago, she started posting pictures of herself like that on her myspace account and got befriended by men she didn’t know… who commented on how pretty she was, and then made a bunch of inappropriate comments that grown men SHOULDN’T say to a girl who is still mentally a child – it really made our skin crawl. any picture of a girl child that so much as sexually arouse put out for adult consumption, and goes into the collection of a closet pedophile is OUT!

  55. Io says:

    In these photos, she comes off as a cross between Brooke Shields and Mila Jovovich (she was doing high fashion by the time she was 13). But it’s something about the makeup. The clothes are great and THAT pose is not really that objectionable to me, but there’s something about all that eyeliner and mascara–which she doesn’t wear, not even on the red carpet–that makes her look a bit too sexy for a girl of 13.

  56. jemshoes says:

    ITA Kaiser – that shot you singled out is too ‘Lolita’ to sit well with me, and it’s made worse because Elle has a mature 13-yr-old body with a little-girl’s face on top of it. The big blue eyes and fluffy blonde hair just emphasises this.

    When I was 13, I was such a dork. Very awkward and shy and immature. But you know – this is kind of normal!

  57. ZenB!tch says:

    I don’t know. I remember Milla Jovovitch (sp) in my magazines when she was 12 (and I was 15 or so?). She probably shouldn’t have been in them and I probably shouldn’t have been reading them.

    Oh gee Brooke Shields – SHE was over the top inappropriate. This is NOTHING like that. I remember seeing a movie with her where all she did was have sex. Again she should not have been in it and I DEFINITELY should not have been seeing it since I was 10 or 11.

  58. dj says:

    Anyone remember when these “Pretty Baby” Brooke Shields pictures came out. It was scandalous. Now apparently, we are so desensitized (as some have mentioned) that we barely raise an eyebrow. How easily we shrug off young girls being peddled as objects even more so today. One positive thing is she looks like she models well and already has Scarlett Johansen beat! LOL.

  59. thegorilla says:

    it doesn’t bug me at all, it doesn’t offend me – and with models we don’t know how old a lot of them are, and they’re young a lot of the time it’s just how it is, and i don’t find these lolita-ish, but for example that glee shoot had a sexy underage vibe going on and that was kinda gross

  60. Sally says:

    It’s definitely the thigh highs that make the photo look icky, along with the hiked up skirt. Like another poster said, if she was wearing jeans the pose would be fine!

  61. Enny says:

    Too sexy for 13, but nothing new. I’m 32 now, and you should see some of the costumes we used to wear at 10, 11, 12 for dance recitals. We made Lady Marmalade look tame, and it’s really disgusting.

    However, the point I would like to make is that while JJ Abrams (b. 1966) was certainly “growing up” in the ’70s, Steven Spielberg (b. 1946) was not. Did she really think they were the same age? That, to me, speaks to her lack of adult maturity and awareness and just makes the whole Lolita get-up that much more depressing.

  62. Shay says:

    The only inappropriate thing is how stupid stylists dress a young girl as an adult. The first dress is way too old for her.

  63. whybenice says:

    What a shame 13 became the new 31. I’m trying to live like 50 is the new 30.

  64. texasmom says:

    I will vote for “depressing” — I wouldn’t want my kid’s thighs out there for public consumption. That photo makes me think of Lewis Carroll, and you don’t get any creepier than that!

    In other news, ny niece met Dakota Fanning and it sounds to me like she is a regular girl, they met visiting colleges (like, ZOMG! we might go to the SAME COLLEGE!).

  65. janna says:

    very lovely girl. when i was thirteen i had scabby knees and nappy hair and could’ve cared less.. too much emphasis on looks for girls this young these days…

  66. pato says:

    the pics are beautiful and she is so georgeous!! I envy her long legs!! they both seem (Dakota and Elle) so down to earth. let´s hope they continue being like this.

  67. Cheyenne says:

    @Phil: I’m betting you have no daughters of your own.

  68. lucy2 says:

    I saw the movie today (it was really good!) and Elle was great in it.

  69. Kat says:

    Hollywood is not a good place for young kids.

  70. Missy says:

    If a five-year old were posed like that second picture, I’d be angry. But she’s 13. And although 13-year-olds are legally children, they really aren’t. One of the problems in this country is that we insist on infantilizing teenagers when we should be treating them more like the adults that they soon will be. People often behave as per the expectations of others.
    Anyways, these pictures are fine by me. Elle Fanning is even more gorgeous than her sister. I hope that she turns out as well as she did.

  71. Trillion says:

    Phil, your multiple comments are suspiciously hyperbolic, labeling us “idiots” for having an opinion other than yours and then claiming every single one of us who finds the photo (I believe we’re all referring to the second one) “AT ALL” inappropriate” to be “obviously attracted sexually to children”. I think the weirdly over the top one is a bit closer to home here.

  72. SusieQ says:

    Interesting: in light of recent posts, I did a quick search on this page for “Phil” just to see what all the fuss was about. I kept getting directed to “pedophile.” Just sayin’.

  73. Dingles says:

    I’d be surprised if some of the people on this site don’t have premature arthritis from clutching their pearls so often.

  74. Kosmos says:

    Yes, the picture with her exposed upper thigh is definitely inviting sexual thoughts. It was meant to entice and draw sexual attention.

  75. jc says:

    For anyone who finds these photos sexual or provocative, I suggest you take another look at yourself. There is nothing suggestive about these photos unless of course you are looking for it. She seems to be normal, sweet 13 year old who makes faces at the camera and acts like a kid. I’ve seen her on talk shows and she is very natural and seems a well adjusted young girl. I just saw a movie called “Somewhere” with her about the relationship between a father and daughter that was interesting and well done. Both she and her sister seem to come from a loving, supportive family who will keep her from crossing that line.

  76. Ally Ambrosio says:

    I don’t think the photos are racy AT ALL. And if you do obviously your looking at them the wrong way. She’s a thirteen year old girl. It doesnt look like she’s wearing underwear. Its a DRESS for goodness sake. She look appropriately her age and shouldnt be put in the same category as other raunchy child stars. She’s in her own category already by being an AMAZING actress. I believe her ballet training grounds her alot too. She is so much better then Disney Channel “actors”. She should be a rolemodel for children who want to become actress. She picks movies to do that appeal to her and have meaning. Not for a bunch of ratings. She’s definitely one to watch. Also, her personal style is unique and makes her even more different (In a good way) from child stars.

  77. phillip says:

    ok pics of a teenager fully clothed not looking like a Slut yeah the world is in trouble i hope my children make this type of mature decision at that age they show worse on disney everyday and nothing gets said