How Young is Too Young? 1978 Brooke Shields article after Pretty Baby

I thought this might be interesting to look at after the 10 year old Tylane Loubry Blondeau Vogue Paris controversy, I think that it might illustrate how with time things change as do our perceptions…
I found it on People Magazine’s archives

‘People like to hear that Brooke’s childhood is taken away from her,’ says Mom. ‘It isn’t’

“Brooke is a gift from God.”
—Teri Shields

Midway through her wrenchingly beautiful film, Pretty Baby, Brooke Shields is auctioned off in a New Orleans bordello. She plays a child prostitute with a disconcertingly angelic air: Her Toulouse-Lautrec pout is sensual, ethereal, mesmerizing. Yet her body—later seen naked—is a child’s, thin and gawky. “I can feel the steam,” she whispers to her successful bidder, mimicking coquettishness, “coming through my dress.”

On May 31 Brooke will be 13 years old. Tall for her age at 5’4″ (her father is 67″), Brooke is blessed with the most stunning new child’s face in movies since Elizabeth Taylor. The skin is flawless; eyes deep blue; lashes black; hair silken. The direct gaze is full of ambivalent sexuality. Now her scandalizing role in the R-rated film has plunged the former child model into an international furor. Pretty Baby has been banned outright in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan. No less a moral arbiter than Rona Barrett solemnly advised her TV audience that the movie is “child pornography.” Others have attacked its French director Louis (Lacombe, Lucien) Malle as a combination of Humbert Humbert and Roman Polanski.

He gets off lightly compared to Brooke’s divorced manager mother, Teri Shields, 44. “The press has referred to me as a stage mother, a frustrated actress living through Brooke and even a one-woman film-wrecking crew,” Teri admits. On the set Brooke is sweet; Teri is salty but clearly a favorite with the crew. She can also be meddlesome and was briefly banned from the set of Pretty Baby. “They can say what they want about me,” Teri explains. “But Brooke can’t fight back. That’s why I’m here. I’m not a stage mother. I’m Brooke’s mother. The most important thing is that I love Brooke, and it’s fun to make her happy.”

Brooke seems to have kept her perspective over the Pretty Baby uproar. “It’s only a role,” she explains. “I’m not going to grow up and be a prostitute. If I were in a Walt Disney movie people would never ask me if the part would affect my life. That’s so dumb.” For all their shock value, Brooke’s “nude” scenes were shot with her wearing a body stocking, with one exception. When Violet (the role Brooke plays) chastely poses naked for the photographer Bellocq (Keith Carradine), Malle closed the set to everyone but himself and cinematographer Sven Nykvist. “I knew it would be tasteful,” says Teri. “Anybody who calls it child pornography has not seen the damn thing. Rona Barrett is a fool. I don’t mind Brooke being called a sex symbol. But nymphet and Lolita rub me the wrong way.” Malle, who picked her over 300 auditioners, admiringly calls Brooke “a natural. She carried the entire picture on her shoulders.”

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