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Runway rumblings - Concerns raised on 13-year-old model
published: Wednesday | September 17, 2008

Jarmila Jackson, Features Writer


Pulse CEO Kingsley Cooper poses beside the Fashion Face winner 13-year-old Shermonique Ivey at the Caribbean Model Search Finals, held at the Hilton Kingston hotel, New Kingston, on Sunday, September 7. - Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer

JUST OVER one week after walking away with the title of Jamaica Fashion Model in Pulse's Caribbean Model Search competition, 13-year-old Shermonique Ivey is the topic of controversy.

In a 'Letter to the Editor' published in yesterday's Gleaner, Dr Marcie Hamilton expressed "discomfort with seeing a young child being elevated to a position where she is being represented by an overwhelming view of sexual imagery under the guise of the Pulse fashion model competition", and called for the Office of the Children's Advocate to take action.

However, in a letter sent to The Gleaner, Pulse CEO, Kingsley Cooper, defended his company. He said it was customary for Pulse to enter teens in its contests.

Not the first time

Cooper pointed out that it was not the first time a 13-year-old had entered the Caribbean Model Search. It is the first time a contestant that age has won.

In 1985, the year Althea Laing won, 13-year-old Rori Coombs was an entrant; there was no furore then.

But with yesterday's letter raising concern about underage entrants, Cooper said he had to give it some consideration. He stressed that Ivey was not being exploited.

"Shermonique will not start modelling professionally until she completes high school (CXC level)," he said in his letter.

Cooper added that Ivey would not be placed by Pulse in any "sexualised situations" and insisted that the company would keep her out of the professional market until she completed high school.

Appropriate

"We'll certainly have a look at this again, to see if we remain convinced that it is appropriate to have a 13-year-old enter the competition," the statement read.

Acting Children's Advocate, Henderson Downer, said that he would investigate, with regard to the law, before making a comment on the issue.

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