Why are we culturally obssessed with youth/beauty?
Its a question that I would like to answer without having the thread moved to the Tar Swamp, but I have a feeling its simply not possible. As a photographer I find myself wanting to shoot what I want to shoot, and most of what I want to shoot are men I find attractive. I choose models 25+ and while I try to flatter them with lighting, oil, and funky clothing. I tend to ease off the Photoshop that seems to be prevalent in magazine covers, finding their natural beauty without creating 'hyper realism' or 'unrealistic beauty'.
I was recently watching "Robssessed" a documentary on Robert Pattinson's rise to fame. Regardless as to how you feel about Twilight, and the crazy media attention thrown about its cast, this awkwardly handsome, musically gifted young superstar is actually quite talented. I have no shame in stating that I find him interesting. During the documentary I discovered he had his 'start' in the industry as a model. Some photos were shown, and he was approx 16 when shooting. This photos were of him posed in underwear/high boots, and I didn't feel like there was anything particularly fashionable about them. If anything, the shoots were overtly sexual, boring and something that I feel isn't trying to sell me clothing, but rather display a under developed skinny male body.
So without getting too deep into the feelings glossy pages of half naked boys/girls under the age of 21 may stir in the people who see them, who do you think the intended audience for this material is? There certainly aren't too many 16 year olds out there (outside the upper class) who can line up to buy $100 undies and $2000 boots. So if its the 25-45 year olds with disposable income that are able to afford designer luxury, why is it that it seems these high price point items, require some scantily dressed, immature, underdeveloped body to sell them?
I have limited experience shooting female models, whose international careers can begin as early as 15 years old. Most of the girls I knew at 15 were still having sleep overs and wondering if they will pass their next math test, and if Buffy will fall in love with Angel, and if that cute boy will talk to them. While the girls I worked with seemed demure and mature for their age, looking back at the photos I took, while they were PG, I feel the models will ultimately be chosen for material I would not feel comfortable producing myself.
Do my suspicions about the real thought processes behind this material come from a dated moral code that's perhaps a little too 'conservative'? Perhaps the world isn't populated with predators, dying for their pound of flesh. Perhaps there is nothing inherently wrong with people. While the adult entertainment industry is often touted as being negative, reputable studios have stringent rules about the age of participants. 15 does not fly for film, but its perfectly acceptable for overtly suggestive print material. Seems like a terrible double standard.
Given the cultural shift in the past 20 years in regards to the age of stars in magazines, music and reality tv. Kids open themselves up to the world online via blogs, videos and sometimes they do so in the most shameless of ways, with little consideration for what just may come their way.