This morning I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and I saw a portrait ad from a photographer that I follow. The ad was inviting teens to be a part of her high school senior modeling program, and it featured five teenage girls, all dressed in PJs (nothing slinky, but definitely sleepwear), all on a big, fluffy, white bed, all leaning seductively on each other, with serious expressions, not a smile among them.
Another sexy portrait of girls who haven't even graduated from high school.
This seems to be the "it" thing these days, the sexy and sultry portraits of high school seniors, that are infiltrating our social media newsfeeds. These images are everywhere from Pinterest to Facebook, although I highly doubt they are adorning the walls of their parents' homes. These photos are ones that younger girls everywhere are seeing, and trying to imitate, which is why we are now seeing tweens and girls even younger skipping the smiles for the duck mouth (what is that???) or the "this is way too old for a little girl" pose.
This is why I don't shoot the sexy stuff.
Now I don't want to come off preachy here. I know there's a time and a place for such expressions and such poses. But I don't believe the time is high school, and I don't believe the place is social media. I believe that the more our daughters (young and old) see these types of poses and expressions, the more they internalize that this "sex appeal" is something that they must have, that it is their bodies and their appearance that makes them beautiful, that makes them valuable. Their bodies become their identity over their heart, their spirit, their brain, their soul.
This has been happening for decades, and has been passed down for generations, but with social media and the explosion of photos everywhere, the danger has become exponentially greater.
And so I've chosen to skip these kinds of images. That's not to say I only photograph smiles. No way. There's a place for thoughtful expressions, for more serious images. But I'm one photographer who won't be photographing the sultry look. That's just my choice and it might cost me some clients, but I've decided to use my photography to make girls feel excited about who they are, rather than try to be someone (or some age) they are not.
And I know I'm not the only one.
This past year, I've connected with another amazing photographer. After months of sharing our thoughts and concerns on where our industry is headed, and the dangers that such photography poses for girls and women everywhere, we have decided to take a giant leap of faith together. I'm excited to share our story with you... in the next couple of posts.
Stay tuned. Our hope is to encourage and empower women everywhere.