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 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.