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

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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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Alexander Petrenko's picture

Don't you think forcing children to go to school is abuse as well?

melissa g's picture

Oh good grief, Lisa, you're in the same basket as Meg Bitton. You post photos of your daughter and glamorize handguns. Meg has dressed these CHILDREN up, given them props and TOLD them how to pose. She then posts the images, waits for the uproar, deletes the images, pulls people to her page where they NOW see only "pretty" pictures and advertises her courses. Disgusting. If anything? There should be an investigation into possession of alcohol/drugs by a minor. THAT SHE HANDED THEM. Not to mention, if an adult takes a sexually explicit photo of a minor and THEN shares it on social media/via text message? Then that adult has crossed the line into child pornography. Feel free to back up your friend all day long...you're quickly becoming the minority. There are many MANY positive messages that Meg could use her platform for; however, she's chosen THIS.

Lisa Holloway's picture

Oh no! The horror! Kids who are taught how to properly handle and use a firearm. Clutch your pearls! Get your smelling salts! 😂

melissa g's picture

Oh how cute. You assume I don’t support the right to bear arms. Actually what I DON’T support is GLAMORIZING guns, alcohol, weed, and sex using CHILDREN.

Lisa Holloway's picture

Another jealous NOBODY. Who has time for this?

melissa g's picture

If people like you and Meg are “somebody”? Then I’m perfectly content being a NOBODY. :)
Have a good one, Lisa!

Amy K's picture

They're nobody, too, outside of the industry. Inside of the industry, a group of momtgraphers like them and they make a few bucks being terrible human beings. I'd rather be a good person than industry famous, which truly means absolutely nothing. But, whatever makes them feel good about themselves I guess. Even when it's at the expense of others.

Lisa Holloway's picture

Oh look, another useless, anonymous keyboard warrior! Good on you. Jealousy runs thick in the comments section. lol

Amy K's picture

Jealous? bwahahahahhahahaa Whatever makes you feel better.

amy kiley's picture

Lisa help me out...and I have been a loyal fan of your work, not a hater. What are people jealous of? I don't understand why you would think people are jealous because they have a concern about something. What would they be jealous of, your talent? What do you mean?

Lisa Holloway's picture

😘 😂

Slide Slide's picture

Hope you finally got rid of your 2 year "non-compete" clause in your workshop T&C. Bet you had fun trying to enforce THAT! Hahaha. That was truly comic, especially with the breast-feeding mermaid. Classic internetz photography bizness dizpute. I guess everyone's a "talentless whore" these days.

Lisa Holloway's picture

Another fake ass profile, too chicken shit to post under your real name. Next!

Slide Slide's picture

I'll give you credit for posting as you, but you have to admit, trying to tell people they can't sell, make, produce anything for 2 years after taking a workshop is way beyond any kind of copyright or intellectual property clause.

And then you "laugh all the way to the bank" and call someone a "talentless whore." WTF? Are you going all "Jake Olson" here? Is this some kind of Interweb meltdown? Don't forget, the internet doesn't forget, and your trips to the bank might become a bit shorter when people begin to see the real you.

You can defend your friend all you want, but honestly, she's crossed a line that clearly isn't photojournalism (ie Mary Ellen Clark, if you're talent-filled ass knows who she is), so it's only being done as a "fake ass" attempt at controversy, and only for the sake of controversy. But, if it gets you "laughing all the way to the bank," then so what? Right?

Lisa Holloway's picture

Not even sure what my non-compete contract has to do with this AT ALL. NOR do I hold a gun to anyone's head and force them to agree to it. What is your point here?

Slide Slide's picture

So you still have that? C'mon didn't the Fro give you any clues about how hard it would be to enforce that?

You do remember the Kyiera Jones (she of the breast-feeding mermaid) controversy? When your T&C was shown to be absolutely ridiculous as an enforceable contract? Please, share with us how you could possibly enforce it and do you really think the "knowledges" you're passing on are that unique and known only to you?

My point is bullshit is bullshit. You can defend the photos, but when you start the shit-talk about "talentless whore" and "laughing all the way to the bank," then go back and watch your boy Fro's video and understand when he said, "if you're going to go to the online world to bitch about something, you better be prepared for what's going to happen next."

Keep going with the Jake Olson meltdown. What next, you tell us how expensive of a car you drive?

Pat McEntee's picture

What on earth does this have to do with the article? Dude, get a screwdriver, something is loose up there.

Slide Slide's picture

Thanks for reading, dude.

Slide Slide's picture

Oh and you didn't even address the issue of your friend's feeble attempt at being the next Mary Ellen Clark (really? a scantily dressed pre-teen smoking? How lame), but coming off as simply...crap

Or did you have to go google Mary Ellen Mark to see what a total fraud your friend is because you probably didn't know that before all this and then realize you have no defense once you saw the photo that clearly serves as the inspiration for this amateurish attempt?

But I guess "talentless whores" wouldn't know or understand any of this would they?

Syd Takeshta's picture

Why in the hell should anyone be afraid of you? What are you going to do .... come to their house with a pitchfork?

melissa g's picture

My goodness, Lisa. You are showing your true colors here. It’s not often you hear a professional call someone else a ‘whore’ all while boasting about how much money they make.

Slide Slide's picture

Well, her photos do look just like Jake Olson's and he's pretty famous for boasting about how much money he made.

Syd Takeshta's picture

Hmmmmmm....... whore... that is a strong word being used in a derogatory way.

Jumpy J's picture

and THERE you have it. Aren't you busy having babies right now? How do you have time to even be on the internet Lisa?

Colleen Fadgen's picture

I'm ashamed that "industry leaders" talk to others this way. Even if you feel passionate about defending your friend's SERIOUSLY questionable images, you can do it without lowering the entire industry to gutter levels. Sheesh.

Glad I've never given either of you a dime.

melissa g's picture

Agreed, except I wouldn't consider Lisa Holloway an "industry leader". ;)

Lisa Holloway's picture

That's why I have over a million followers on social media and attract top end clients...never less than 5 figure sales. I guess people are paying top dollar for 'shite' these days. Idiot. lmao

Jack Alexander's picture

All those stats, and still you address people the way I've seen you speak to others on here. I'm lost for words.

Lisa Holloway's picture

You responded to me with exactly 22 words, so I don't think you're 'lost for words.' I'll always stick up for myself and my friends. Always. ;)

Jack Alexander's picture

I've a lot of time for people who stick up for what they believe in - but you're going about it all wrong. Swearing, threatening people, acting self-righteous and calling others "nobodies"... all of that overrides any intellectual conversation you may have been trying to achieve, sorry.

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