There has been an increase in crackdowns on alleged child pornography, especially on the Internet. One must consider the ramifications of assigning the label “child pornography” to distasteful, yet perfectly legal, photos, films or digital renderings.
Earlier this year, the Huffington Post published a poll concerning 13 year old French model Thylane Loubry Blondeau. Blondeau was in the news not because of her young age, but because of a series of shoots she did in 2011 at the age of 10 for French Vogue. At the time of the original shoot, Fox News decried the shoot as just shy of child pornography, claiming the photo shoot could only appeal to pedophiles.
This example, however, offers us a better understanding of the thin line between art and exploitation. Miss Blondeau is a working model whose high-fashion shoots are deemed pornographic by some and artistic by others. The clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch has also been accused of producing racy catalogs as well, and was forced to pull its Christmas Field Guide because of its sexually explicit nature. Thus, we see an American company facing similar allegations in the court of public opinion; they, too, were never charged with any particular crime.
This suggests that there is no one set definition of child pornography in our culture, despite a very clear designation in our laws. In fact, both the Vogue shoot and the A&F catalogs easily fit at least some of the criteria set forth in United States v. Dost, 636 F. Supp. 828 (S.D. Cal. 1986) See also United States v. Knox, 32 F.3d 733 (3d Cir. 1994) for determining elements of child pornography:
• Whether the focal point of the visual depiction is on the child's genitalia or pubic area
• Whether the setting of the visual depiction is sexually suggestive, i.e., in a place or pose generally associated with sexual activity
• Whether the child is depicted in an unnatural pose, or in inappropriate attire, considering the age of the child
• Whether the child is fully or partially clothed, or nude
• Whether the visual depiction suggests sexual coyness or a willingness to engage in sexual activity
• Whether the visual depiction is intended or designed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer