Twisted Childhood: Portrayal of Children in media

Children. Often thought of as someone below the age of puberty and a person who still retains their innocence which most (if not all) adults don’t have. But here’s something to think about. Is the perception of “Children” we have today, the same as it was say 200 years ago in the 1800’s? As mentioned earlier, we see them as someone who is young and a stage of life that is separate from and adult.

Here is an image of a child in our modern era:

Notice how the child is wearing something that an adult would never wear.

Meanwhile we have something completely different from a child in the 1800’s

As you can see, the children in the image above are wearing quite similar clothes to the adults in the image. Very prim and proper clothes that look like a smaller sized version of what the adults are wearing. This brings to mind, what if our perception of children was just a state of mind? What if it was never a fact?

With all of that said however, how are children represented in media today? Despite us changing our state of mind on children, it seems when it comes to clothing, we are coming back to the same mindset that was present all those years ago. Children wearing clothes that have a similar design to clothes that adults wear. The main difference here is back then in the 1800’s, everyone was covered up completely. Whether it be man or woman, they were completely covered and that was the standard back then (as shown in the image above). But as the years have gone by, our standards have changed, our rules have adjusted to the mindsets we have now. And that is people can choose what they want to wear (Granted, there are still rules in place but that’s not the point). This lead to people wearing different things. Such as woman being able to wear short shorts, singlets, along with men wearing earrings. Here’s a range of clothes that woman wore back in the 20th century:

Image taken from http://www.tufts.edu/~mlee21/1900s.html

Then compare that image to something like this:

Image taken from http://spankingfairytales.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/current-fashion-trends.html

On top of this, there’s the issue of debate of art versus pornography. Now, this debate has been going on for years on what’s what. However, one of the main issues that arise is the use of children in art. More specifically children that are exposing skin (Cue police sirens). One of the popular cases showcasing this issue is the controversy with Bill Henson’s artwork on the 23rd of May 2008.

When it comes to something like the Bill Henson case, you have to think, “Is this the right way to approach this?” For example, one could argue that this is all about challenging the standards the modern society has set for this issue. But at the same time, is it right to take a picture of a child’s exposed body and display it at an art gallery? A person would generally think the answer is no.

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