At age 13, Kerr entered and won the 1997 annual Dolly magazine/Impulse model competition. She was flown to Sydney a week before her 14th birthday to shoot for the magazine. Upon Kerr's win, local media expressed "concerned outrage" at her young age. The controversy raised concerns about the glorification of young girls within the fashion, beauty, and entertainment industries.
Some media outlets[according to whom?] claimed her Dolly shoot (including images of a 14-year-old Kerr in bathing suits) constituted a form of paedophilia . Of the press, Kerr said: "In the media at the time they were trying to cling on to anything remotely to do with paedophilia. Dolly is a magazine for teenage girls, not for old men. And I was fully clothed! Doing a winter shoot! They just made something out of nothing."
Kerr at the David Jones AW13 Fashion Launch, February 2013
Kerr signed to Chic Management's Sydney division. She received considerable commercial exposure after a series of beachwear ads predominantly for Australian surf chain Billabong, in which Kerr modelled surf brands Tigerlily, Roxy, Billabong Girls, and One Teaspoon. This increased her profile in the Australian and Asian markets, after which Kerr relocated to New York where she became co-owner of the Bowery Ballroom.
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