I took a number of images of my niece today and also a guest from Martinique. It was meant to be good fun - which it was! - and to be practice for me - which it was! - and a "gift" to Lou from Martinique - which it was! My niece is 11, soon to be 12. She's a beautiful and talented girl with aspirations to be a model. So, today was modeling day. My niece brought a couple of cute dresses and a bikini, flip flops and high heels. We were having a great time and I was trying for a variety of looks since most models will need to look a zillion different ways. I was amazed at how well both girls took direction and how the camera really loved them. But then, when I got home and looked at the pictures, I discovered something else. My 11 year old niece looked...sexy. And, I had encouraged it and even asked her to pose particular ways which enhanced the sexiness.
Did she want to be sexy? Of course. Isn't that what girls think beauty is? Isn't that the bill of goods that our culture has sold to our little girls? Is it OK to want to be attractive? Yes! But it needs to be balanced with innocence, purity, joy, love, laughter, fun...
Is this what magazines and such will want? Of course! Is it right? No. I don't think it is. My niece is a young girl, not even a teenager yet. Our culture is so preoccupied with sexiness, looks, youth. I had bought into it hook line and sinker without even being fully cognizant of what I was doing.
Of course I want my niece to be beautiful and to think of herself as beautiful. But beauty does not need to equal sex and lust. Beauty is so much more than that. I feel as though I stole some of her innocence today and I'd like to give it back. I want my pictures to add to the joy, peace, love, and innocence of the world. I want my pictures to capture the inner beauty. And, so, here is the picture that I feel best captures all of my niece's beauty and innocence. I love you, M!