If you thought the soft-porn image of Disney teen queen Miley Cyrus -- wearing nothing but ruby-stained lips and a bedsheet -- in Vanity Fair magazine was disturbing, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Pop diva Beyonce Knowles, 27, and her fashion designer mother have launched a girls clothing line that makes Miley's bare-backed glam session look like a Shirley Temple photo shoot.
The Knowles' family business, "House of Dereon," recently published advertisements for its "Dereon Girls Collection" with young models who look no older than my second-grade daughter. They are seductively posed and tarted up, JonBenet Ramsey-style, with bright lipstick, blush and face powder. Draped in bling, several of the girls sport leather jackets and studded accessories.
One of the children wears sparkly, killer high heels (more pint-size Pussycat Doll than Dorothy from "The Wizard of the Oz") and another slouches, gangsta gal-style, with a neon pink boa, leopard-skin fedora and stilettos. An even younger model is a toddler-aged Beyonce Mini-Me with huge hair, skinny jeans, spike-heeled leather boots and attitude to match.
Abercrombie & Fitch prompted an outrage a few years ago with its line of thongs for elementary school girls and pedophilia chic catalogues. And, of course, Calvin Klein started it all with 15-year-old Brooke Shields purring that "Nothing comes between me and my Calvins." But the House of Dereon photo spread sinks even lower. It's sick and it's wrong, and it's not social conservatives who first said so. Fashion and celebrity websites have been buzzing with outrage over the past week:
"Pimp my kid," decried one blogger. "Dereon Girls ad too adult," concluded another. Gossip king Perez Hilton polled readers on whether the ad was appropriate. The overwhelming consensus: Hell, no.
The creepiness factor is heightened by the fact that women were responsible for marketing this child exploitation. I'd ask: "Where was Beyonce's mother to tell her daughter to wipe all the gunk off the Dereon models' faces?" But Beyonce's mother -- who has helped manage the "Bootylicious" singer's career from childhood -- is her eager and willing partner in crime.
As for the mothers of this new crop of Little Girls Gone Wild models, they were undoubtedly thrilled to see their daughters painted up and posing like Victoria's Secret angels-in-training. If we've learned anything from Lindsay Lohan and her hard-partying mother, it's that the Lolita-posing apple doesn't fall far from the bosom-flaunting tree.
So, what's next? Nine-year-olds performing stripper routines? Oh, wait. It's been done already. I saw that very nightmare last fall on the cable TV reality show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" -- featuring the grade-school-age daughters of Olympic star Bruce Jenner strapping on stilettos and twirling around a stripper pole in their parents' bedroom as friends and family cheered them on. Future House of Dereon clients, no doubt.
Beyonce's clothes, you should know, are available at Macy's department stores and other "fine" establishments willing to carry titillating tot wear. Shame on them all. Shame them all. It's time to redouble our efforts to fight back against the Forever 21 culture that poisons Hollywood, Halloween, prom season and every season in between. In our indecent world, 7 has become the new 21. Shouldn't a child's innocence last longer than a porn star's .25-ounce pot of lip gloss?