A young Russian fashion model is gaining international attention, and now her mother is facing criticism because people are calling her 6-year-old "the most beautiful girl in the world," a creepy and problematic label that neither of them asked for. According to Allure, Anastasia Knyazeva is the third young model to be saddled with the label in recent years, and all three just so happen to be thin and white, which is its own can of worms. But the label shouldn't be applied to any child, because it only serves to perpetuate the idea that beauty is a girl's only value. True, as a model, her appearance has literal, financial value, but she's also a multifaceted human being.
Several British tabloids reported earlier this week on Knyazeva, a professional model with several successful campaigns under her belt, such as Russia's Chobi Kids, Brazilian shoe manufacturer Amoreco, and children's couture designer Mischka Aoki, best known for outfitting Blue Ivy in gowns that cost more than your first car. Knyazeva's mother, Anna, maintains an Instagram account showcasing her daughter's work, which has amassed more than 600,000 followers. Not gonna lie; the kid is super cute, and it probably won't be long until she's made enough to leave Russia and move herself and her mom to a more free country, like Canada.
All the tabloid reports claim that Knyazeva's being hailed as "the most beautiful girl in the world," in quotes, without specifying who, exactly, bestowed that title on her. The phrase appears to have originated with a report in The Daily Mail, which makes an unnecessary comparison between Knyazeva and French model Thylane Blondeau, who sparked controversy in 2011 when she was featured in a provocative French Vogue spread at the age of 10. But there's nothing provocative about Knyazeva's work; she models children's clothing, wears minimal makeup, and nothing about the styling or her facial expressions hint at anything remotely sexual.
The concern-trolling of Knyazeva and her mom is completely without merit; other than the made-up label, there's nothing to be alarmed about. She's not posing topless or being forced to make "come hither" eyes at the camera — she's modeling kids' clothes. Since the Daily Mail article was published, Knyazeva's Instagram is now receiving unsolicited comments from strangers who are worried that she's working too hard, or that occasionally wearing makeup for work is somehow damaging to her skin, prompting her mother to assure critics that her daughter is doing just fine.
Please forgive the rough translation of Knyazeva's latest post:
There is nothing inherently wrong with a child doing modeling work, as long as it's only one part of a rich and diverse life, as it appears to be in Knyazeva's case. What's wrong is giving a child a title like "the most beautiful girl in the world," which tells her, and every other little girl, that she's defined solely by her appearance. Knyazeva is objectively beautiful, and she's been lucky enough to make it work for her. But looks aren't everything, even for a model, and labeling her as nothing more than a pretty face not only devalues her, but sends the message that every other "less beautiful" girl in the world is effectively worthless. Rather than pitting kindergarteners against each other in virtual beauty contests, we should be celebrating what makes each and every girl uniquely beautiful, and here's a hint: it's not their looks.
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