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Has Vogue violated its own policy against hiring underage models?

Lia Grainger
Shine On
September 21, 2012

In the world of high fashion modelling, how young is too young? Last May, Vogue magazine set the bar at 15, promising only to use models aged 16 and up in all of the magazine's many international editions.

Vogue isn't the only one urging healthier policies in modelling. Last season, the Council of Fashion Designers of America asked runway designers to not use models under 16, and in February of this year the first union designed to protect the rights of fashion models was launched.

Also see: Vogue bans underage models, calls for healthy fashion reform

But a recent image in the pages of Vogue China reveals that the fashion publishing giant is having trouble practicing what it preaches. The image in question features model Ondria Hardin, an up-and-coming teenage model from North Carolina. The young American has been modelling since she was 13 when she debuted in Prada's 2011 campaign. This fall, Hardin walked for no less than seven designers in New York's fashion week, and her look book reads like a who's who of haute couture.

Now here's the catch, according to Jezebel, Hardin may have been no older than 15 at the time she was strutting her stuff in New York City this fall, which means she was definitely not 16 when the August Vogue China editorial was shot.

Also see: Robyn Lawley becomes Ralph Lauren's first plus-size model

So why is Vogue using Hardin, mere months after they launched their so-called Health Initiative? Hardin's agency Ford tells the Daily Mail that she is currently 16, but they haven't provided any proof.

Vogue's ban on under-16 models also came with a series of other pledges, including a commitment to not knowingly employ those who appear to have an eating disorder, and to ask designers to consider the consequences of providing only extremely small sample sizes of their clothing.

Unfortunately, those promises ring a little hollow now that Hardin's fresh face is gracing the magazine's pages. So far Vogue has not responded to allegations about the broken pledge — let's hope they learn from the this incident and remain committed to a healthier fashion industry in the future.

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