But my troubles don't seem so bad in comparison to photographer Jason Lee Parry's, who was the first-named defendant in a lawsuit by parents of underage model Hailey Clauson concerning allegedly "salacious" photos taken for Urban Outfitters. You'll recall that last week, when news of the suit had just come out, CATWALK JUSTICE wasn't too optimistic about Parry and Urban's chances of prevailing in the case. But the more this writer learns about the background of the suit, the sketchier the lawsuit seems.
First, as pointed out by Alice Davis, a videographer who assisted Parry in the shoot, "[Hailey] is a professional model" who "posed herself" in the Urban shoot. Indeed, rather than hide under the covers after the photos came out, now 16-year-old Hailey posted them on her Facebook page. Not exactly the narrative of exploitation laid out in the parents' complaint.
Further, as I explain on LAW OF FASHION, the crux of the lawsuit appears to be the photographer's failure to obtain written consent from the parents, who apparently knew about the photo shoot "and its racy poses" and did not object at the time -- or for a year-and-a-half after that. If the parents did, in fact, know about the nature of the shoot, they might face a couple of obstacles in their attempt to squeeze Urban for cash: 1) consent can sometimes be implied from the circumstances, rather than explicit; and 2) a party who allows another to detrimentally rely on a mistaken belief, especially for an extended period of time, may be "estopped" from complaining about actions taken under such reliance.
Of course, none of this has stopped the mainstream media from touting the story as "land[ing] smack in the middle of a global spasm of controversy over the sexualization of young girls.” ABC, the outlet responsible for this quote, goes on to report that certain "psychological experts" are worried "that our culture and our corporations are stealing girls’ childhood.” (Um, double-standard! Where are the rallying cries over 17-year-old Patrick Schwarzenegger's "salacious" Hudson Jeans billboard?)
Bombastic though it may be, this news coverage can't be good for Parry, who appears not to have benefited from the expert legal coaching that the owners of Thursday Friday have had. Parry failed to live up to his name by giving ABC the following strategically ill-advised quotes:
• “I look at it and think, ‘this is a really cool shot.’”
• “Her facial expression looks tough. Look at that, you can’t tell me that doesn’t look tough.”
• “Is she showing any private parts – that’s the real question.”
*Sigh of relief that my firm isn't representing Parry.*
To be fair to ABC, its reporter did conclude by pointing out that the "controversy" surrounding the sexualization of underage girls is nothing new; a 1980 ad featuring a "salaciously" posed 15-year-old Brooke Shields shows that, in the wise words of Battlestar Galactica, "all of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again."