MOSCOW: Kristina Pimenova has been dubbed “the most beautiful girl in the world” but her mother says the eight-year-old Russian supermodel is completely ignorant of her worldwide fame.
On catwalks since the age of three, Kristina, who models for Armani and Roberto Cavalli, is famed for her big blue eyes and bewitching smile, with over 2.5 million fans on Facebook and nearly 500,000 followers on Instagram.
“She is a very modest girl, she does not know what it is, this star-mania,” said her mother Glikeria Pimenova, a former model herself.
“She never hears the word ‘popularity’, we simply do not use it at home,” she said.
But besides the millions of fans, the Pimenova phenomenon has also raised worries and plenty of hackles, with many claiming some of her photo shoots are too sensual for an underage girl.
“She is too young to be so sexually explicit,” one of the girl’s fans commented on a photo where she is sitting beside a vintage typewriter with her mini-skirt riding up on her thighs.
“Don’t forget to be a child!” another commentator wrote.
Pimenova — who handles her daughter’s social media accounts and updates them with new photos almost daily — has rejected the criticism.
“If someone reacts to photos abnormally, it’s not my problem,” she said, adding that Kristina — who turns nine on December 27 — only wears children’s clothes and rarely uses make-up in her modelling photos.
“Photo sessions take very little time in Kristina’s life as she chooses them in a very meticulous manner ... Otherwise, she would have worked almost every day,” the young model’s mother said.
The American actress, model and former child star Brook Shields said that the controversies over Kristina’s photos highlight ethical problems around child models in the social network age.
As a child, “I had pictures just like that ... I think that with social media and with the access it becomes a bit more dangerous,” Shields told the New York-based Meredith Vieira TV show earlier this month.
“I don't think these photos [of Kristina] are bad, however you are asking for a certain type of reaction and person ... [People on social media] can say whatever inappropriate thing they want to say, they don’t have to be responsible and that just becomes dangerous,” Shields added. “It can get out of hand.”
An ordinary girl
Born in Moscow on December 27, 2005, Kristina spent the first months of her life in France, where her footballer father, Ruslan Pimenov, played for FC Metz.
She “has good genes” is passionate about gymnastics and spends four to five hours a day training, her mother said. “This is more than a hobby.”
“Kristina is a very ordinary girl and goes to an ordinary Moscow school.”
But the young model has a busy schedule. After school she goes to gymnastics classes and only comes home at around 8pm, “sometimes later”, the mother said, with only one day off a week.
Her mother said Kristina loves pizza and pancakes and when she has spare time likes to read “Alice in Wonderland”, Greek myths and “The Little Prince”, or make mini-films on her iPhone.
“She dreams of becoming an actress or a filmmaker,” Pimenova said.
“I don't think her popularity is related to her modelling career. This only added to the interest she has always attracted since her birth."
“Kristina has a great inner beauty. Maybe others feel it,” she said. “And then there is her face which many people find attractive.”