Photographer Renowned for Child Portraits Is Criticized for Sexualizing Her Subjects in New Images

Photographer Renowned for Child Portraits Is Criticized for Sexualizing Her Subjects in New Images

Meg Bitton, a photographer renowned for her portraits of children, is receiving backlash online for posting images of youngsters — some allegedly aged 11 — wearing revealing outfits, smoking, and in t-shirts supporting cannabis. In an age of children growing up and being sexualized too fast, how far is too far?

Bitton is widely regarded as a respected children's photographer, with tens of thousands of followers across various social media pages. Over the last few days, though, a number of photographs have been circulating the Internet for all the wrong reasons. Many are deeming that some of her recent work is highly inappropriate, largely due to the overtly sexual nature, despite her subjects being children.

In one, two young girls are seen pressing themselves against each other, while one has her hand on some money that is tucked into the other's shorts. In a second, Bitton has positioned her child subject in the front seat of a van, wearing barely-there underwear and smoking on a cigarette. Another sees a child so young that she’s likely not even in double digits, bearing a top promoting the legalization of marijuana.

https://twitter.com/WebbDawgTG/status/1035185601664954369

https://twitter.com/WebbDawgTG/status/1035185739355619328

https://twitter.com/WebbDawgTG/status/1033579785241468928

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It’s an increasing trend, treating children like adults. Earlier this year, "Lil Tay" gained notoriety online and was giving TV interviews for simply behaving outrageously on Instagram at the age of nine. Meanwhile, celebrities like the Kardashians parade their offspring around in outfits tailored by high-end fashion houses. But these images feel incredibly distasteful and a step too far. Bitton’s subjects are likely old enough to be consciously aware of many of the themes portrayed in the photos. However, positioning them as the subjects within them is in poor taste. It risks putting incredible pressure on these children to be or behave a certain way before they’ve had a chance to figure out who they are as people or the consequences of such behavior. It blurs the lines of how it is or isn't acceptable to behave in front of a minor.  And it certainly calls into question the legality of such images; many online are calling it gross at best and pedophilic at worst.

Setting aside the sexual aspect of such images, there is nothing realistic about these photos. They aren’t artistic, documentary style images that capture the livelihood of innocent children. They depict something unrealistic and forced. When was the last time you witnessed 11-year-olds in such pants, gallivanting in the streets, and leaning close to each other in a provocative manner? Never, I hope.

Bitton’s response, written within the comment section on Facebook, was:

Too young for what? To be embracing each other in shorts and tops? Too young to be out at night? Too young to explore? Too young to feel? What are they too young for? What is disgusting?

She claims she is simply depicting a normal child’s evolution into adulthood. Thankfully, the Internet disagrees. Sexualizing children is never justified.

At the time of writing, her Instagram is set to private.

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539 Comments

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Brady Barrineau's picture

You're talking out of your ass Charles. She took a major risk posting some of those photos and yeah I get it that she's a rich and a highly skilled photographer. It makes no difference what you or she thinks is art or not, law enforcement decides that. There might be a cop or two in that group but they're distancing themselves far away from any of workshops that depict children in any sexual manner agency or no agency. The last thing a cop wants is to be guilty by association and they know what 'probable cause' means in the real world. This means Charles that all law enforcement needs is a slight reason for snatching hard drives from anyone that attended any shoot where minors were photographed that pushes the limits of the what's legal or not and they don't give a fuck what some photographer thinks is right or wrong. The police will assume that there might be one or ten pedophiles in a workshop taking photos of kids in underwear to sell later. They'll run each and every adult through the sex offender database just to be sure - if they're one man or woman its game over.
There's some weak ass argument that because little girls go to the beach in bikinis, photographing kids in some sexual way is just fine. You're full of shit - go down to Venice Beach with your camera and a 300mm and start photographing kids in bikinis - first you'll get your ass kicked then most likely an undercover will snatch your camera.

Gina K's picture

There is a well written post about this here and accurate to everything I have witnessed these last few days: https://www.jodieotte.com/business-of-photography/exploitation-lies-phot...

mike brannon's picture

they're trying to bring attention to something she's massively profiting from in secret now. how would you do it?

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Sex is in the eyes of beholder

Not Telling's picture

100% agreed. It is the author’s dark mind instigating this entire situation. Anybody who denies this is sexual using children inside as well.

Moira Neale's picture

Yes and these are the people that are beholding the images.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

So, you went to deep dark web to find this image for me?

Moira Neale's picture

No of course not! Its is on other photography sites that are exposing exactly what is going on here because some people are pretty naive.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

So where, how and most important - why - did you find this sexual minority community? Why you advertise it on this website? 8 out of your 16 comments on this site contain this image.

Moira Neale's picture

I have already answered that. You are focused on the wrong thing. We are focused on the abuse of these children you are not. You are okay with Meg Bittons images and see no harm in them. I find your comments very disturbing. Are you a friend of Lisa's as well?

Alexander Petrenko's picture

You haven’t. I’m not. I’m ok. I don’t. I’m not.

Kurt Hummel's picture

And the children’s parents were ok with it, pretty sad.

Umit Pala's picture

I am curious what they feel when they see that pictures. Ohh what a nice photo ! my little girl looks like sk..nk and we are proud of her !

Sarah Morris's picture

I'm sorry, a what??? Umit??

Robert Proctor's picture

A Skank.... Not too hard to figure out

Sarah Morris's picture

Yeah, thanks Robert. :eyeroll:

heidi adams's picture

Sarah-the pic of your daughter is all over the internet-I keep seeing it as an example of one of the most disgusting images. It is one of the images that many have screen shot and sent to the authorities. The intent and sexualization is clear to everyone but you. If everyone sees it as sexual, maybe you need to think about this. This image is never going away-for the rest of her life it is out there, and no one thinks it is innocent.

Lisa Holloway's picture

Kids - child actors - play roles in movies all of the time. How is this any different at all? Are you all going after people casting children in what you deem 'inappropriate' roles in movies and television? There's nothing more disgusting than a rabid, mindless internet mob.

David Pavlich's picture

So you're justifying the above photo by saying that "others do the same thing"? Let's assume that you have a 10 year old daughter. Would you allow this? If so, then there's nothing to discuss other than to say that you'd be considered a lousy mother.

Nothing more disgusting than a rabid, mindless parent that exploits his/her kids for notoriety/financial gain.

As a street photographer, I go out of my way to ensure that I don't shoot kids out of respect for their parents and how difficult it is to raise kids in the present culture. Yet here's a "photographer" that somehow convinces parents that it's okay for their pre teen daughters to look like they're ready for a night on Bourbon Street, take a photo and display for all to see.

Sorry, this is low life.

Lisa Holloway's picture

I do have a 10 year old daughter. And that is totally NOT the point I was making. These are child actors/models playing a role. Nothing more, nothing less. Keep your implied commentary about my abilities as a mother to yourself.

Deleted Account's picture

That's why I deleted my comment, Lisa. A bunch of intellectual bottom feeders, engaging in a self-reinforcing moral panic, and who are unable to entertain more than a single thought which has been drawn for them.

I mean, we have such egregious offenses as an article of apparel promoting cannabis. The horror. Sure, not the core offense objected to, but let's just throw that in.

Won't somebody please think about the children.

But then the author of the article is still a baby at 26. One would hope that when he grows up that he'll learn nuance and objectivity.

David Pavlich's picture

We're bottom feeders because we think it unwise to dress an 11 year old like a two bit hooker? So does that mean you approve? Just asking....

If you had a pot promoting t-shirt on, I'd commend you since I think it should be legalized everywhere, but to have an 11 year old promoting something that is still illegal in most locations is pathetic in the extreme.

We are thinking about the children...are you? Is it somehow avante garde to be in favor of using an 11 year old in such a way? What am I missing here? Please explain the logic beyond the shock value.

Deleted Account's picture

No. You're an "intellectual bottom feeder" because you are trapped inside your own moral panic, lensing your entire worldview through it, and are incapable of thinking your way out of a wet paper bag, or any form of intellectual rigour or cogent argument.

Savvy?

Deleted Account's picture

No, observing that those who are unable to concurrently hold and analyse a hypothesis which is competing with the hypothesis that they favour are not exactly intellectual powerhouses is my fundamental point.

The fact that you seem to be incapable of comprehending what I'm saying supports my inference.

It's super complex stuff...if you're an idiot.

Deleted Account's picture

Given that you consistently demonstrate your intellectual inferiority and insecurity, I'm feeling pretty comfortable right about now.

Deleted Account's picture

Fine. If it makes you feel better.

Now, kindly go away, and take your utterly mediocre images with you.

Deleted Account's picture

It was more polite than 'garbage' or 'shit'.

Now, fuck off, you ignorant, uneducated, moron.

Deleted Account's picture

Congratulations. You are Hugh Janus.

You are not educated. You are not clever. You are nothing more than a troll.

I gather I can't block you, but I can make a formal complaint.

Seriously, fuck off.

Tim Ericsson's picture

Jesus both of you shut up already. It’s like reading an argument in a freshman Econ class, these sad attempts at intellectual cock measuring. Stop clogging up the comments section with your little tiff. Nobody cares.

Tim Ericsson's picture

You're just as much at fault, man. But glad you thought it was funny

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