This is Brooke Shields aged just ten years old. The photograph was taken by fashion photographer Gary Gross (a more then appropriate name in my opinion) who specialised in dog portraiture. It was taken in 1975 and was to be part of his project called ‘The Women in the Child’. These photographs were taken with the permission of Brookes mother, Teri, and first appeared in the publication Little Women, and eventually in the Playboy Press publication ‘Sugar and Spice’.
Now, let me preface by saying that I have made the conscious decision to only use a cropped image of her face, as I believe the images that make up the collection are nothing short of child pornography. Therefore, I am only going to analyse this controversial ‘text’ in regards to the cropped image I have selected.
Gross explained the idea behind this image as being an exploration of the femininity in prepubescent girls compared to adult women. The image clearly denotes an attractive and ‘made-up’ prepubescent girl, who is leaning against a white wall, staring intently down the lens of the camera.
However, when we then move to what the image connotes, the image becomes far more complicated. Brooke has had her hair and make up styled to not only make her look like a woman, but a women who has a strong hold on her sexuality. She has been covered in body oil and is completely naked except for a choker necklace (which I believe connotes that she is just like the dogs Gross usually photographs). Although she is leaning up against the wall for support, she has been positioned in a way to signify her sex appeal.
We then move on towards what her gaze connotes. Although she is only a child, she looks towards the camera with an explicitly vulnerable ‘come hither’ stare, with her lips pressed into a seductive pout.
It is true that people will interpret media messages in different ways based on their own ideologies. However, I must admit, that in regards to this complex image, I have a hard time believing that most people would read this message as anything other than grossly inappropriate.
I don’t believe the ‘artist’ Gross has managed to achieve his objective of exploring the femininity in prepubescent girls. In fact, I believe he has done the exact opposite. What makes young girls beautiful is their youth, yet in this image he has tarnished that by making them up to look like mature women. In a way, it is rather ironic.
- Brooke Shields Nude Photo causes Controversy – Marie Claire
- Brooke Shields on Coming to terms with her Controversial Past – DailyMail
- Court Case Summary
- Abroad -Controversies in Paris – When a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Debates – NYTimes.com. 2014. Abroad – Controversies in Paris – When a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Debates – NYTimes.com. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/04/arts/design/04abroad.html?pagewanted=all. [Accessed 23 March 2014].
- Brooke Shields Biography – Facts, Birthday, Life Story – Biography.com. 2014. Brooke Shields Biography – Facts, Birthday, Life Story – Biography.com . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.biography.com/people/brooke-shields-9542246. [Accessed 23 March 2014].
- Brooke Shields nude photo causes controversy | Marie Claire. 2014. Brooke Shields nude photo causes controversy | Marie Claire. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/news/399077/brooke-shields-nude-photo-causes-controversy.html. [Accessed 23 March 2014].
- Brooke Shields on coming to terms with her controversial past: ‘I’m proud that I’m still here’ | Mail Online. 2014. Brooke Shields on coming to terms with her controversial past: ‘I’m proud that I’m still here’ | Mail Online. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-1269170/Brooke-Shields-coming-terms-controversial-past-Im-proud-I-m-here.html. [Accessed 28 March 2014].
- Garry Gross – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2014. Garry Gross – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garry_Gross. [Accessed 23 March 2014].
- Shields v. Gross. 2014. Shields v. Gross. [ONLINE] Available at: http://journalism.uoregon.edu/~tgleason/j385/Brooke.htm. [Accessed 23 March 2014]
Image courtesy of Gary Gross via listverse