I am sure 13-year-old Kirsty Thatcher is delighted at winning the 2012 Dolly Model Search announced yesterday (July 10). It will certainly provide a great story for the inevitable essay “Things I did on My Holiday” when school returns next week.
When I saw her on television she was a charming winner, articulate and generous to her fellow finalists with an apparently good grasp on reality, as much as you can have at 13 with a fabuously glamorous world being dangled in front of you.
If you ignore the whole philosophical issue of what damage beauty contests can do to young minds and young bodies, my issue was not the fact that she was scantily clad. She wasn’t. Nor that she was rake thin. She certainly didn’t seem to be.
The problem was that she didn’t look 13. Or 14. Or 15. Or even a teenager. In fact, she could easily have passed for well over 21.
Soon she’ll be off to New York to get a first-hand look at modelling industry. Hopefully mum Debbie, who admitted to being “nervous” about her daughter’s “long-time” dream to become a model, will support her by making sure she doesn’t just value herself through the prism of her looks.
And she will make sure sKirsty also gets to immerse herself in any one of a hundred other experiences between now and when Kirsty leaves school so she has something with which to compare her “long time” dream.
Chadwicks, the modelling agency which teamed with Dolly to reintroduce the Model of the Year competition after it had been canned a decade ago, say that picking Kirsty at such a tender age was very like the selection of an elite athlete.
“If a kid shows a great talent as a sportsman, you don’t ignore it, you recognise it and you guide it properly,” managing director Martin Walsh was quoted as saying.
Sadly, I don’t think that’s true. An elite sprinter may fail to win a race, or an Olympic berth, because someone else beats her. But she doesn’t get turned down simply because the selector doesn’t like her face. Or thinks her butt is too big.