This week I shared a photo on Facebook which was doing the rounds of two very young Maltese girls, posing sexily on a rocky beach dressed in leather, tight leggings and killer heels. So what, you may ask?
Well, one of them (wearing a scanty bikini) was heavily pregnant. I wrote that “maybe I’m getting old but I find this pic disturbing” and a barrage of comments agreeing with me started pouring in, ranging from the mildly shocked to those expressing spluttering outrage.
On the other hand there were also comments in the “live and let live” category and a couple of people pointed out that I had invaded the girls’ privacy by sharing the photo (even though by the time I had posted it, it had already gone viral). Normally I would agree…live and let live. But something about this photo made me very uneasy.
As the day wore on, the critical remarks towards the teenage mother (by this time I had learned that she was 15 when the photo was taken) became more and more vicious and nasty until finally I took the decision to remove the photo and the thread altogether. I removed it because it was never my intention to have this young girl torn to shreds – but, unfortunately, that’s what happened. There is a malicious streak in human nature which emerges at times like this, and yes, I should have seen it coming.
So, what was my intention? Well, as I said, I found it disturbing…the need for a woman to feel attractive even though she’s pregnant is one thing, but this photo went beyond that and entered the shady territory of sexual provocation. I saw the rest of the photos from this professional photo session and they were equally questionable. If she were an adult, it would be none of my business, but given the fact that the mother is under age, this raises a multitude of questions about the photographer; questions which I am still looking into.
The photo also reminded me of what I had written a few years ago about the influence of the E! Entertainment culture on today’s generation. This craving which young girls have to be photographed in a sexual way is a real cause for concern. It’s as if the only way they can feel beautiful is by wearing as little as possible and by pouting and preening suggestively for the camera, because that’s what the Kardashian sisters do.
I will never forget one episode where Mama/Manager Kardashian persuaded Kim to pose nude for Playboy because “now’s the time to do it, when you’re young, and this will give you something to show your grandkids”. Yes, because THAT is what grandchildren really want to see – a photo of their granny wearing just strings of artfully arranged pearls and a coy smile.
Then, of course, there is the show Girls of the Playboy Mansion which is making it seem perfectly normal for three blonde siliconed bimbos to live with a withered, aging old man who owns a soft porn empire. I’m convinced that these images of what it is to be a woman are what some girls have in their silly heads when they agree to pose in a certain way.
Oh, and the latest craze seems to be faux lesbian kisses, with everyone sticking their tongues out and peering archly at the camera lens…Facebook is full of these photos.
I realise that most of the time these amateur “photo sessions” are intended to be just a little harmless fun by teenage girls who are idling their time away on a boring Saturday afternoon – but the world out there is full of perverts who feed off of these kind of photos. You post them on FB, and that’s it – your photo is out there for everyone to see and dissect.
And, unfortunately, there are also photographers out there who seem to be exploiting this “need” of young girls to have a sexy photo shoot. That is what is the most worrying. Teenage girls are renowned for being anxious to grow up and look like women, and flattered and excited at the thought that they can be sexually attractive to older men, but the risks involved in doing these photo shoots do not need to be spelled out.
Or do they? Sometimes I wonder.
I have read various comments on other walls where the photo I described above was shared, and apart from saying “live and let live” some young people demanded to know what’s wrong with looking sexy (and pregnant) and flaunting it if you’ve got it, when you’re still young and hot.
Sure go ahead, as long as you’re over 18 and it’s legal.
But I do hope that we agree that we need to draw a line somewhere. Girls under the age of consent should not be doing these type of photo shoots (and, may I ask, do their parents, who are presumably paying for it all, know what their prepubescent daughters are up?). The final point is, of course, the most crucial and obvious one. Any photographer caught taking photos of under 18 girls (or boys for that matter) in semi-naked, compromising poses, is committing a criminal offence and is likely to be charged with child pornography.
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