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.

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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Previous comments
Motti Bembaron's picture

He is not worth the energy...

Deleted Account's picture

Oh, I just realised, you're that idiot who saw fit to pretend you had read The Tragedy of the Commons, and then ridiculed it.

As I said, you haven't read it. The thesis of the essay is not "forced birth control and eugenics and seizure of individual freedoms".

Where on Earth do you morons come from?

Deleted Account's picture

Yeah, sure you did. I'm guessing you just made use of Google. You can't really backtrack at this point.

Anyway, you really aren't worth my time, or anyone else's.

Deleted Account's picture

Oh, this is the part where you try to pretend that you are educated.

Wealth of Nations is completely different subject matter.

Piss off.

Deleted Account's picture

You mean the work of fiction that I read a year after my mother remarried, when I was 8.

Are you seriously this much of a loser?

Deleted Account's picture

Yeah, I'm going to pretend that I've read a work of fiction to make myself look intellectually superior.

The funniest thing is that you think I'm kidding. You're the only one here who pretends they have read stuff.

Deleted Account's picture

I. Don't. Care.

Deleted Account's picture

But what sort of fucking moron thinks that destroying our own habitat is clever.

Deleted Account's picture

No. Really.

Just how stupid would you have to be to believe that destroying natural capital in exchange for synthetic capital is a winning proposition?

Oh yeah, the same person who doesn't comprehend the properties of exponential growth

Deleted Account's picture

Again, I don't care what you do. I made no secret of the fact I think your work is crap.

You want to troll, then put up with the halo effect (google is your friend)

Randall B's picture

I have to say it's pretty ironic seeing will howell call someone out on speaking the truth. This is the man who pushed Broncolor is made by Godox in the godox/profoto/bron article. He even told the Broncolor rep he was wrong! Classic!

Randall B's picture

Sorry william, at this point I can only conclude that either you think everything is a joke or you really have a moronic IQ. You have actually been offered a tour of the facility by the Broncolor top brass. Will Prentice has set you straight numerous times. Yet you still, to this day, spread false information about a company on the fstoppers site. You are lucky that the Swiss are not overly litigious. Having this in print, over months and months, even when provided with proof from the company is not a smart move... awaiting vapid, bull$hit response that tries to turn everything into a joke...

Randall B's picture

Well, you confirmed that you are simply an idiott. I'm not here to educate you- I am simply calling you out for being full of $hit and spreading lies that can hurt a company's reputation. Some of us care about reputation. Some of us ruin our reputation by posting trolly slander in a major photography site. In life we have choices. I will forward this off to my contact at Broncolor...

Randall B's picture

Once again William you are wrong. I am not a distributor for Broncolor. I would love to work for them but, alas, I am simply an artist who uses their gear along with a bunch of others. Your innaccuracy continues to astound me. That's why me thinks you are doing it on purpose...

Randall B's picture

Actually Soros was made in Hungary.

Ceri G's picture

Lisa Holloway has actually been caught up in her own scandals for sexualizing kids.

Lisa Holloway's picture

That's a pretty hefty accusation there, 'Ceri G'...any evidence to back that shit up? I notice you're posting under a fake name. Shocker.

Nicola Healey's picture

Really??? I would love to see this article you speak of! Kindly share!!! Since you know so much it seems.

Syd Takeshta's picture

Verbally attacking the author is a proficient means to getting your point across.... good move mate! NOT.

Deleted Account's picture

Observing that the author is young, and therefore possibly incable of objectivity by virtue of his age is applying the "principle of charity".

Now, I could have simply called him an idiot, that would have been attacking him.


Amy K's picture

Looks like we've found one of the pedophiles Meg caters to! Anyone defending this needs to have their hard drive collected and search history analyzed, end of story. This isn't about art or telling a story, it's about making money off the backs of children and not giving half a shit what happens with the photos. Meg is sick, anyone defending it is sick, and I'm so proud of those standing up against this.

David Pavlich's picture

Your words certainly give the impression that you are defending the exploitation of children whether in stills or film.

Regardless, I do apologize for my remarks concerning your fitness as a mother. That overstepped.

Syd Takeshta's picture

Theres nothing more disgusting than a minion who is on board the kiddo abuse train. These images are unacceptable. Rolled up $100 bills in booty shorts.... please. Let's place you in those shorts, take a picture of it and show it to the world. How will these children feel about these images when they are adults? VOMIT

Deleted Account's picture

Taking pictures is not abuse or molestation. Get some sense. Nobody were harmed during the process, until proven wrong. This is plain bigotry. "Dressing like a hooker" doesn't imply performing a quickie. It's the Sally Mann controversy all over again…

Syd Takeshta's picture

How do you know? Are you that child? It is damaging to the notion of childhood innocents. These images are a perversion of innocents. BTW.... The scene was set up to display child prostitution in a glamorizing light. THERE IS NO DENING THAT. It wasn't just the fact that these young girls were dressed in skimpy clothing ...... they were captured in the dark of the night ... by a dock .. with a creepy flannel wearing man. You only see his back. This is not bigotry .... this is drawing the line in the sand ... against artist who are willing to compromise the innocents of children .... for their own selfish purpose. CALL ME BIGOT ALL DAY EVERYDAY ..... whatever it take to protect children against sexualization. In the court of law sir... taking provocative images of children is a crime. It is considered child pornography .
Child pornography is a crime that deals with some of the harshest and most serious laws that a person can face. This is serious. If news channels catch wind of these images .... it's will be devastating for her. The majority of the photography community is outraged.

Deleted Account's picture

How do you know? Are you that child?

And btw, it's not porn.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Hm... You see something glamourising in these photos? Probably I need to change my views on "glamour" as THERE IS NO DENING THAT, so something wrong with me...

PS: You are BIGOT. Big one.

PPS: If news channels catch wind (they will, they usually catch winds of people like you) it will be one more won court case about destroyed reputation.

Deleted Account's picture

Provocative images are no porn, hence no crime. You are just making up a cause to defend to get some importance and feel good about yourself. The representation of something is not a performance of that thing. Showing it is not encouraging it. You have to get some notion of the difference between the representation/depiction and the actual depicted thing.

Syd Takeshta's picture

I don't need this particular matter to feel good about myself. That is a very strange accusation. I am speaking against perversion of youth. My efforts are selfless. Have you ever thought a person can just be disgusted, without having an alternative motive? I believe these images are in violation of federal law. Thats all there is to it.

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