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Brooke Shields' Mom and Child Pornography

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Back in 1975, Teri Shields allowed her young daughter, Brooke, to be photographed nude. Years later, that photo session is causing controversy.

Brooke Shields Tate Gallery

After years of watching Brooke Shields star in the sitcom "Suddenly Susan," it's difficult to remember the controversy she stirred back in 1978 when she appeared, at age 12, as a child prostitute in "Pretty Baby." All with the blessing of her manager/mother, Teri Shields.

Memories have just been jogged.

The Tate Modern Museum in London has taken down an image of Shields, now 44 and a mother of two, called "Spiritual America" by American artist Richard Prince, because Scotland Yard warns the image could be breaking obscenity laws. The artwork, using a found publicity photograph taken in 1975, depicts Shields, only 10 years old, standing nude with heavy makeup in a bathtub. She stares directly into the camera with a look that belies her young years. Amazingly, the provocative painting has already hung without incident in New York's Guggenheim Museum.

The photo was originally taken by Gary Gross, a U.S. photographer. Later the photo appeared in a Playboy publication, "Sugar 'n' Spice."

It wasn't until years later that Teri Shields, 75, and who now suffers from dementia, attempted, unsuccessfully, to buy back the negatives from the photographer. 

What do you think: Is the painting an example of free expression or child pornography? And what mom would let their 10-year-old be photographed nude in the first place?!

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21 comments so far | Post a comment now
blueberryice October 2, 2009, 12:13 PM

Seems inapproate but what does Brooke think? If it is child porn isn’t she the hurt party here?

Anonymous October 2, 2009, 1:51 PM

I think it’s still child pornography. This isn’t little kids playing in the bathtub with their siblings, it’s a girl on the cusp of puberty, heavily made up and giving the camera a come-hither look. If anyone had this in their home of any other girl, you’d be calling the cops on them as quickly as your fingers could dial.

birdy October 3, 2009, 12:15 AM

it is definitely porn when it is displayed with anything playboy.

C October 3, 2009, 8:14 AM

I think that there’s this assumption that if it’s considered art (and it apparently is) that it can’t be child pornography. Perhaps both are in the eye of the beholder, but if many people consider the photograph to be inappropriate, pornographic, etc. then it is.

Anonymous October 4, 2009, 9:33 AM

It’s in the past and Brooke turned out fine.Get over it people.

Anonymous October 6, 2009, 3:06 AM

Dimentia now or not, Teri Shields should have known better than to allow her daughter to be exploited in the 70’s. Typical of someone who thinks of the cash and not the consequence.

JiminSD November 1, 2009, 8:16 AM

Child Pornography, no question about. Adult pornography may be art it evokes the senses “sexual” at the very least and protrays expression and thought provoking. But child pornograpy is not art it promotes crime against children.

Janice November 10, 2009, 8:41 AM

Brooke is a victim and she’s still haunted by this images of her. She turned out okay but still these images would still linger. Imagine how Brooke’s kids would react if they’ll see that their mom used to be a nude child model… she was obviously exploited. Her mom is sick for allowing such travesty to happen to her own daughter.

Anonymous November 26, 2009, 9:33 PM

One day human beings will come to the amazing realisation that the human body is not a thing to be covered up, ashamed of and reviled.
Civilisation and human thinking will take a huge leap forward when we learn to accept the bodies we inhabit instead of trying to change them and keep them hidden.

Renee December 30, 2009, 1:54 PM

She is painted up to look older, thus, a prime target for a pedophile. this is wrong on many levels. Those who disagree, are freaks and enjoy looking at young girls. Get over yourselves. Pedophils.

Johnny June 23, 2010, 6:39 PM

hee hee, Renee’s post amuses me. Pedophils? never heard of those. and dolling up a child to make them look older would turn off a pedophile, not attract them, duh. try reading a dictionary.

anonym August 19, 2010, 4:27 PM

Ich weib nicht das ende..

anonym August 19, 2010, 4:29 PM

Ich weib nicht das ende..

Rick November 17, 2010, 8:39 AM

The truth of the matter is, unless there is actual sexual content (i.e. suggestive poses, sexual act with another party, etc), which does not include how you think she’s looking at the camera, it’s not pornography. The facts: those of you that believe she’s looking at you suggestively have decided that for yourself. Therefore, you’re the one aroused by the picture and should reflect on your own opinions and their origin.

Personally I think free expression from any age is, and should be, completely acceptable no matter who (her mother) agrees to it or not. You wonder why sheltered children grow up on the outside of general society, but in turn don’t give them the opportunity to express themselves. The fact is, if this kind of picture was common place no one would ever think there was anything wrong with it.

The people who have decided that young people should be covered from knee to neck 24/7 are really the ones causing the problems here. As before, if this kind of thing were common place it would take the fantasy and mystery out of the game for those pedophiles out there, reducing the problem society has in child exploitation. Sure there would still be those sickos out there that will always go beyond, but pictures like this aren’t going to change what they do.

Lastly, would your opinion remain the same if it was a male in the photograph. Young males are exploited at almost as high of a rate as females. Before you answer too quickly, think about it beyond your own righteousness, and envision the picture with a male in her place. Probably not nearly as shocking for most of you. The initial thought would be along the lines of “Aw, I didn’t want to see that”. Yet that wasn’t your initial reaction at the site of this photo …. was it.

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