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Brooke Shields, Calvin Klein's Controversial Lolita: Then And Now

Icons | November 19, 2020

Brooke Shields modeling Calvin Klein jeans. Source: Vanity Fair

Brooke Shields, as the young star of the films Pretty Baby, The Blue Lagoon and Endless Love, and as a model in TV and print ads for Calvin Klein jeans, walked a fine line between glamor and scandal. She cultivated a Lolita-esque persona, repeatedly playing on a look that suggested maturity even though she was only in her mid-teens. 

Most child stars live pretty unconventionally compared to the average youngster, but Brooke Shields’ early career took the young celebrity life to another level. Exposing her nude body, starring in sexually provocative films, and posing for sensual magazine covers all before the age of sixteen caused extreme controversy from society. Despite the criticism, Shields still succeeded as one of the most successful child celebrities of all time, and her fame has stayed consistent from the ‘70s up until the present day. 

Shields Was Considered The Most Beautiful Baby

Source: Pinterest

Shields was destined to be a star, as her mother decided her daughter’s fate the moment she first held her. Shields was born in 1965 in Manhattan, New York into an elite family of model/actress Teri Shields and businessman Frank Shields, who divorced shortly after her birth. When Shields was only five days old, Teri announced that the child was going to be in show business stating, “She’s the most beautiful child and I’m going to help her career.” 

Source: Pinterest

Brooke’s career was launched soon after her birth when she received her first gig at eleven months old appearing in a commercial for Ivory Soap. From that moment, she was considered “The Most Beautiful Baby In The World,” and already became a star. Brooke’s adult-like appearance and natural photogeneity as a young child captivated Hollywood. Teri then became increasingly more controlling, and she pushed Brooke to do more than she even wanted. Even with all of her praises, Shields suffered with self-esteem issues and sometimes wanted to enjoy average kid-activities like horseback riding, ballet, and piano. 

Source: IMDB

In 1978, Shields starred in one her most controversial roles as the child prostitute Violet in the film Pretty Baby. At only eleven years old, Shields displayed her nude body to the world which caused quite a stir as critics accused the film of crossing into child pornography. Teri stood up for her daughter, bashing all of the attackers as her child’s sexualization was acceptable to her. Teri also protected Shields from predators and the media which upset the press because no one could ever reach Brooke herself. The next year, she appeared in Wanda Nevada. -- a film that was unusual for Shields in that it was not terribly controversial. (It was also not terribly successful.)

Shields pursued modeling and acting simultaneously, with similar results in both fields. She was judged to have a look beyond her years, so when most kids her age were shopping in the children's clothing section, Shields was modeling clothing for women on the national scene. Ford Modeling Agency founder Eileen Ford once said about her client Brooke Shields, “She is a professional child and unique. She looks like an adult and thinks like one.” At the age of thirteen years old, Shields was featured on the cover of Seventeen Magazine, and immediately her modeling career set off in an upward spiral.

Source: 80s Movie Guide

By 1980, Brooke Shields was the most famous teenager on the planet and her controversies had only just begun. That year, the 14-year-old starred in one her raciest films ever, The Blue Lagoon. The plot revolves around two children, Shields and 18-year-old Christopher Atkins, who are isolated together on an island and naturally fall in love. But unlike most innocent child-love stories, these two lovebirds experience puberty and end up having sex -- a lot of sex. 

There were other things going on in The Blue Lagoon -- the movie explored ideas about civilization and societal norms, about innocence and survival. It was part Adam and Eve story, part Lord of the Flies. But its other merits were drowned out by the hysteria over the sheer amount of sex and nudity and the depictions of sex between underage characters. Shields spent most of the film topless, with only her long, thick hair covering her breasts. Years later, when testifying before the U.S. Congress, she declared that most of her nude scenes were actually shot with body doubles. The film faced backlash for eroticizing Shields -- but it was still a massive box-office success, grossing around $60 million in the United States and Canada. 

The next year, Shields played the beautiful Jade Butterfield in yet another controversial film Endless Love, originally an X-rated movie until many of the intense sex scenes with 15-year-old Shields and 22-year-old Martin Hewitt were edited into R-rated acceptance. Today, teenagers are usually played by actors in their twenties to avoid these kinds of scandals.

Shields Stuns The World With Her Provocative Calvin Klein Ad

Source: Pinterest

In 1980, Brooke Shields broke records when she became the youngest model to pose for the cover of the highly esteemed fashion magazine Vogue. Later that year, she worked with the company that would produce her most notorious ad, Calvin Klein. The famous designer called the teenager “the most beautiful girl in the world” and chose her as his official denim model. Another controversy ensued when Calvin Klein released a TV commercial starring Shields, who states the suggestive line, “You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” A print ad was also released in magazines with the teen seeming to be unbuttoning her blouse. Many viewers found the entire campaign to be a shocking sexualization of a child, so much that many TV networks, including CBS, banned the commercial. Despite the objections, Calvin Klein and Shields became even more popular. 

Source: Pinterest

Shields’ career took a pause when she decided to live as a normal teenager for a bit by attending college. The highly intelligent actress/model enrolled at Princeton University in 1983 and graduated in 1987 with a degree in French Literature. After graduating, Shields stepped back into the entertainment scene, but now was showing the world how funny she was when she landed more comedic roles. After guesting as a hilarious stalker in the ‘90s hit sitcom Friends, she was cast as the lead role in NBC’s sitcom Suddenly Susan, which ran from 1996 to 2000. In the 21st century, Shields starred in another NBC series, Lipstick Jungle, which ran for 20 episodes, but has had more success as a guest performer, playing recurring characters on That '70s Show, Hannah Montana, Law & Order: SVU, The Middle and Jane the Virgin. Shields has also occasionally guest hosted for shows such as NBC’s Today. In her post-college years, it's safe to sat that Shields; career has been much less controversial and much more peaceful.  

Tags: Brooke Shields | Calvin Klein | Endless Love | Pretty Baby | The Blue Lagoon

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Emily Morenz

Author

Despite her younger age, Emily Morenz (Emo) is a serious 1960s/1970s enthusiast who is pretty much the Austin Powers of this decade. Through her all-vintage wardrobe, obsession with old time rock 'n' roll, and her mid century bedroom and 1,200+ vinyl collection you might think she just stepped out of a time machine. Emo plays the rare gems of the ‘60s and ‘70s on her radio show on OC’s 101.5 KOCI and teaches rock ‘n’ roll history on her podcast “The Rock & Roll Sweetheart.” When there's not a pandemic, she's rockin’ out with all the middle aged-men at every single classic rock concert happening around the town, and she will battle her away to front row and dance hard. Paul McCartney even once brought her up on stage to dance...while she was in a walrus costume. You also might find Emo surfing waves, skateboarding through a neighborhood, groovin' '60s gogo style, and pretending like she can play bass. And she's obsessed with peanut butter and corgis.