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
Lisa Holloway's picture

Not going to apologize for not playing by the rules. I do me. You do you. :)

amy kiley's picture

Lisa you aren't like this....your photos are sweet and caring. What are you going to battle here for? I can't believe what I am reading....not you?

Lisa Holloway's picture

Meg is a close friend. I love her and her work. She is being crucified by a mindless internet mob. Of course I'll go to bat for her. Her images are FAR from 'child pornography.'

Slide Slide's picture

No. They clearly are crap and clearly are an attempt at being edgy, so defend it all you want, but...

it's still crap....

amy kiley's picture

but Lisa many of us aren't saying her work is porn. I hear people saying it is exploitative for reasons that have nothing to do with child porn????

Pat McEntee's picture

Then all professional models are exploited.

And it sure sounds like many are equating it to porn.

Rex Jones's picture

How exactly are you "going to bat" for Meg by taking potshots at other users and calling names? That's not exactly the most professional, even practical, approach to handle anything.

Syd Takeshta's picture

Holy hell why do you think everyone is jealous of you? I honestly had no idea who you were.

Lisa Holloway's picture

Because I'm awesome, why wouldn't they be? lol

Kat Armendariz's picture

Lisa, I loved your work the moment I saw it, you are extremely talented at what you do, but your attitude totally blows it. Being considered a public figure in ANY community, comes with responsibility.

Pat McEntee's picture

Lisa is defending a friend that is not here. Quite a bit of the criticism has been harsh, to put it mildly. Lisa is being quite polite considering the attacks on her.

amy kiley's picture

Lisa you have got to be kidding, right? Do you realize how incredibly insecure that sounds? Do you really think people are jealous of you? Why? Because you can take a good photo? Why would anyone in their right mind be jealous of that?

Nicola Healey's picture

clutch your pearls... bahahahahahaha

Deleted Account's picture

Ok, people glamorize what they want, that's freedom of speech, you have no censoring power whatsoever, and the day you do, I will be the first to put it down. So bug off, go back to your confederate limbs, and let people be.

Jumpy J's picture

Don't bother discussing this with Lisa. She is the exact same as Meg, except in her case, she uses one of her 30 kids to pose in shocking ways to generate clicks. How many guns and kids do you have now Lisa?

Nicole M's picture

Why are you all over this story defending her, Lisa? You know she makes fun of you behind your back right?

Lisa Holloway's picture

Meg is my friend and you are an anonymous nobody. Screw off.

Nicole M's picture

Now you hurt my feelings calling me a nobody. What a stinging rebuke to my sense of self LOL

Meg is not your friend. You might want to think that but deep down you know she's just using you. How much time did you spend on this article alone doing her dirty work? You know she'd never do the same for you.

Meg knows she copied you all those years back (don't you love how she claims to have started 15 yrs ago?) and that she wasn't the pioneer of her "look" (whatever that is) so it's easier for her to make you think she's your friend. She might throw you a few bones here and there but do you really think someone who lives in a million dollar house and wears Hermes scarves is going to be friends with someone like you?

melissa g's picture

Uh oh, Lisa. What happened to your "....enough guns to annihilate idiots like you...." comment? I thought that one was a very accurate representation of your Keyboard Warrior Personality.

Lisa Holloway's picture

Oh it's still there. You are clearly incapable of reading.

melissa g's picture

Yep. You're right. It's in the SCREENSHOTS. Because you enjoy posting and then deleting. Or posting and having your comments deleted by the admins. Bless your little heart.

Pat McEntee's picture

Most of the comments by Lisa are in response to people attacking her. There are a handful arguing facts. Most are just tossing ad hominems and insults.

If you don't like her work then don't buy it. Criticizing her family is beyond decent.

Nicole M's picture

You're responding to the wrong person. I didn't criticize her family.

Gina K's picture

Pat McEntee Ah, clearly you are late to the game my friend. The reason why it appears that way is because Lisa Holloway has long since changed her comments, and profile picture, for that matter. These are the comments people have been responding to. Appears as though she's just a good at the bait, switch, play victim game, as her buddy Meg. Those screen shots sure do come in handy, don't they?

heidi adams's picture

Hey Lisa-If your daughter takes photos like this and sends them to some elementary boy, or when your son receives pictures like this from his junior high interest, I am guessing you would not be cool with that. I am guessing you would encourage your kids to not do such things... because anyone with any common sense knows these are wrong. Well, good luck guiding them at all cause your moral compass is seriously whack. You will have NO LEG to stand on. They will be able to call you a hypocrite(and justly so). They will be able to point to YOU as the first person that told them that objectifying girls and using people for their own satisfaction is cool. They will be able to say, "my mom is cool with porn." Truly, the shame you should feel as a mother should be crippling. I truly pity your children.

Jumpy J's picture

Oh, I'm sure she will be proud of her kids if they did this. But, you'll just have to wait until she gets her 18 kids to school before she has internet time to answer.

Lisa Holloway's picture

Go away.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

You are guessing so much, that I expect we can get rid of Wikipedia soon.

Lisa Holloway's picture

Don't pity my children. Pity your own pathetic self. My kids are amazing human beings - growing up to be kind, smart, well adjusted people. Guess I'm not doing too badly here. I also taught them to always defend themselves against ignorant assholes such as yourself. We don't do politically correct here, nor do we bend over backwards to please the masses spewing robotic mindless bullshit in this house. NOPE.

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