Sensual Art vs. Titilation

Recently, it’s come to my attention that 2 of our BeautifulYouth models (who will remain unnamed) have been also modelling for one of those pay-for-titilation websites- the kind that winds up on Dateline NBC or 60 Minutes. It’s the type of site that has spawned congressional legislation that would outlaw all non-merchandise-related photography of children altogether.

This has raised what feels like millions of questions (probably only 20-30 in reality) in my mind. First off, I detest these sites. I’m a huge fan of first amendment rights, so I’m not opposed to these sites’ right to existence… BUT, I don’t agree with what they do. I also realize that there are some who would question the BeautifulYouth project and lump it into the same category (a lumping with which I would heartily disagree).

These sites, mostly featuring girls- some with boys, center their photography base on photos that are titilating… that is, feature models in some aspect of undress, but always with some clothes… usually clothes that represent overt sexuality or some sort of focus on sexual fetish for the viewer (thongs, t-shirts that say ‘Come and Get It’, and things like that).

So the first question is: what defines what is acceptable sexually with regards to photographs of pubescent children? I feel that many of the photographs in the BeautifulYouth project are sensual, definitely. But are they titilating? Are they created in a way to elicit a purely lustful response from the viewer? Definitely not. Do they show the models’ emergent sexuality? Yes, but that’s part of the model as a person. Are they exclusively focussed on the models’ emergent sexuality? Again, not.

With these ‘other’ sites… it seems that the complete and total focus is on the arousal of a viewer that has sexual predelictions toward pubescent girls (or boys as the case may be). That has never been the case at the BeautifulYouth project, nor will it ever be.

Second, I started comparing the photographs from these sites with the nudes of Jock Sturges, or even with the more sexually suggestive shots from David Hamilton. Why are Hamilton’s nudes (girls- of the same ages as the ones in question) more tasteful than these model sites’ pictures? Again, I think, it is because Hamilton uses the models’ own emergent sexuality than branding it over with a callous, crass, and lustful sexuality (Hamilton also brings more of a romantic bent to his work as well). And with Sturges, the models are just there … they are who you see.

Third, what of the models? If they continue to be a part of the BeautifulYouth project, do we assume guilt- guilt by association? This is a tough one. Talking with different people about the situation, I have received very different answers. Answers that range from disavowing these two models, removing all their pictures, and pretending that they had never been a part of the BeautifulYouth project… to doing nothing (“what they do with their modelling time is none of your business,” I have been told).

I must admit I am curious. I haven’t shot these two models since the discovery of their ‘other’ site, but I do plan on shooting them again. They bring a wonderful quality of work to the BeautifulYouth project- so for now, they will remain a part of the BeautifulYouth project. But the main question I want to – and probably will – be asking them is… why? How do they feel about posing in that ‘other’ way? I’m assuming the reason is money. What I’m curious about is what they think about the finished product.

What do you think?

2 comments for “Sensual Art vs. Titilation

  1. Anonymous
    February 17, 2006 at 12:31 PM

    Sensual Art vs. Titilation. I agree with what you said Aquaria.I hope you will continue to take shoots of these models. As for the congressional legislation, hopefully that will get nowhere. We here in the USA are losing are rights and freedom of speach everyday. Taking away youth and children modeling photography will be taking away another chunk of american lifestyle in my opinion. I am reffering to leagal photography of course. I see nothing wrong with models seeking additional promotion opportunities either. Many may be planning careers in the modeling world. I’ll be commenting on this subject again soon…I had problems creating a user and login name. Thanks for your work aquaria and look forward to many years more.

  2. True Lover
    May 7, 2008 at 7:03 AM

    My personal heroes Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and Franklin D. Roosevelt each found that there are realities that demand war. OK: understood. But I am not looking for a conflict: I am not going to challenge anyone’s reason for living and not anyone’s reason for making a living however they do it. Even the blind-from-birth can know titillation and the miserly Scrooges are titillated by their money. I got off my high horse of moral certainty and the other one of morally superior outrage as I got off the other ones of self righteousness, racial and sexual centrism, and more. “They”, whoever “they” may be, are neither like me nor anyone else so I lay off. Rather than be phony and dishonest, I live and let live and get on with life. Leave other’s worlds alone: if worlds collide we get more problems than just being different worlds, so I figure it is better to negotiate a manner of revolving around each other. Be part of “their” world if you want to end up paying for “them” and “their” world. I have mine and that’s hard enough.

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