Has Vogue Already Broken Its Own 'Health Initiative'?

Did Vogue China violate its own health initiative by putting Ondria Hardin, who reportedly just turned 16, in the magazine?
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Did Vogue China violate its own health initiative by putting Ondria Hardin, who reportedly just turned 16, in the magazine?
Photo: Vogue China

Photo: Vogue China

It's been three months since the launch of Vogue's health initiative, and we've been keeping a close eye on one important tenet: age. The magazine vowed never again to knowingly work with models under the age of 16.

So far, things have been going pretty well. Actually, the models in Vogue's June issues tended to be a bit older than we expected, while July and August have proven the same. On average, models seem to be at least over the age of 20.

That is with the exception of the August issue of Vogue China. Amongst the many faces in an editorial shot by Daniel Jackson was Ondria Hardin, pictured left (She wasn't actually on the cover, just inside the magazine). Don't be surprised if that name rings a bell. You might recognize her as the face of Prada's fall 2011 campaign. Or maybe as one of the two underaged models who walked Marc Jacobs' show this past February, the same show which ruffled feathers at the CFDA.

At the time of that show, Ondria was reported to be 14, which is two years younger than the CFDA guidelines permit for working runway models. If Ondria was 14 as of February 2012, one doesn't need to exercise any complex mental gymnastics to know that there's no way she could have been 16 at the time this editorial was shot.

It's been difficult trying to pin down an exact age for the American model. NY Post reported that she was 13 when her Prada campaign was shot, and NY Times put her at 14 when she walked her first show for Marc Jacobs in September 2011. We reached out to Vogue China, but have no response yet, while a rep at Ford Models told us that Ondria is currently 16, but was unwilling to share her exact birth date.

Why all the secrecy? Sure, Ondria could be 16 now. But was she 16 then? We certainly hope so. Despite the odd cigarette, the health initiative seems to be at least on the right track. But Hardin's age was already the cause for a lot of speculation long before the initiative was announced, and if she was indeed 15 at the time of this shoot, doesn't that seem a bit careless?