The sexual exploitation of young girls on Instagram must stop now
Collective Shout campaigner Lyn Kennedy recently wrote about the countless Instagram pages she found filled with sexualised images of children. Under the guise of “child modelling” young girls were posed dressed in dancewear and swimwear:
“There are girls standing, hip to the side, pulling on bikini bottoms. Others are posed with arched backs and spread legs. Backsides to camera, arms overhead. Girls look wistfully back at the camera, lips parted. Side-shots capture girls with backsides pushed out.”
“Kids don't naturally strike these poses. Adults put them up to it.”
Lyn reported many of these images but received almost immediate responses from Instagram stating that "no community guidelines have been breached." Lyn also reported comments men had left on these photos - comments about the girls bodies, body parts and telling the girls what sex acts they would like to perform on them. Many of these were not considered to be a breach.
According to Instagram’s community guidelines, it is perfectly acceptable for a grown man to tell a ten year old girl wearing a leotard to “open your legs.”
*trigger warning* We have included blurred examples of these pages and comments below this article.
Tomorrow is the UN International Day of the Girl Child. The theme for this year is “Girlforce: Unscripted, Unstoppable." If we want to achieve this for the next generation of girls, we need you now more than ever, to join the fight.
Instagram - the fastest growing social media platform in the world, estimated to be worth over $100 billion - is facilitating sexist and oppressive scripts for girls at the earliest of ages. Girls are posed in underwear, bikinis, standing in front of mirrors with measuring tape. Like child beauty pageants 2.0, these Instagram pages are an early introduction to beauty practices, promoting a preoccupation with physical appearance and body weight. These pages expose girls to sexual attention from predatory men, putting them at risk.
How will girls ever be “unstoppable” with these obstacles in their tracks? How will they break free of the cultural script that puts women in their place when they are taught from such a young age that their role in life is to be looked at?
Someone is cashing in on these children. As Lyn said in her article, children don’t do this. Adults put them up to it. Other adults in a position to do something about this - those employed by Instagram - are letting them get away with it. It has to stop now.
Instagram and Facebook recently announced a crack down on advertisements for diet and cosmetic surgery products, which included age restrictions preventing underage girls from seeing such advertising. The company was widely celebrated for taking steps to protect girls, but when it comes to predatory men flocking to the Instagram pages of sexualised and exploited underage girls - "no community guidelines have been breached." We can't let them get away with it.
Feel free to send Instagram this article https://www.collectiveshout.org/a_day_of_the_girl_on_instagram_posed_exposed_and_at_risk
Tomorrow is the International Day of the Girl Child. Let us renew our commitment to fight for the liberation of girls from sexual exploitation together. If you haven't already signed up to Collective Shout - join us here.
Examples of the sexualisation of girls and predatory comments on Instagram