The 14-year-old daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith recently changed her Instagram profile picture to a pic of herself wearing a shirt with the image of a topless woman on it. Willow has her arms clasped behind her head, so the print is in full view. Here's a look at the photo, posted on Wednesday by a fan page:
We're not really sure how to feel about Smith's message in this photo, or if there is even an intent to convey a message. On one hand, if she is taking a feminist stance, it's encouraging to think that young people today are privy to women's rights issues and equality. On the other hand, it's also important that we help our youth stay children as long as possible and, in today's society, that's not really so simple. This means making sure that teens aren't sexually exploited, even if it's at their own hand.
Then there's the possibility that Willow didn't post the photo with any kind of political agenda and put it up with the sole purpose of making people squirm, which is a whole other can of worms.
With the explosion of the internet over the past couple of decades, the world has gotten so much smaller. With easy access to the web, teenagers are free to research issues and movements such as "Free the Nipple," which has been endorsed by Miley Cyrus and Chelsea Handler. Handler has made her case for gender equality loud and clear through Instagram several times over the past couple of months and we fully support her and even back what we understand as Willow's support of the message. We just wish the young singer would choose other ways to communicate her ideas about women's rights, if that's, in fact, what she's seeking to do.
What makes us so uncomfortable is the way the shirt can be perceived as the sexualization of a very young girl. It draws attention to her own chest and invites strangers to look at her, which, in itself, is dangerous. Willow may be beyond her years, but there are still ways for her to be a socially aware teenager without posting photos that are too mature. Times are changing and so is the way society views females, but we aren't quite in a place yet where a young woman can wear clothing with implied nudity without people viewing it as sexual. Willow may not be ready to deal with the consequences of what the shirt may bring to her.
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