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Becky I - So Cold by Kiota Becky I - So Cold by Kiota
This is the first of a series I did in a photoshoot in 2003. I was 14 at the time - the model, my sister, was 9.

Quite recently I decided to try and sell the series as prints on Ebay. I posted photo-links to several art communities on and discovered the series was extremely controversial. Many people accused the photos of being child porn - a couple said CPS should be involved, etc.

To put it mildly, I was shocked. As a child and a teenager, I was sexually abused and taken advantage of many times and was very offended at my art being called child pornography.

The following is my condensed response:

Why, why, WHY is a photograph of a child who is not fully clothed automatic labeled 'child porn'??

Clothing stores frequently decipt children wearing seductive clothing, posing provacatively, sometimes with sexual slogans on their shirts, etc... and that's okay. But if I, at the age of fifteen, photograph my nine-year-old sister in undershirt and underwear, without her smiling and making come-hither motions, kissing, hand in her pants, or sitting with her legs spread... then suddenly it's child porn because... omg, she's not fully dressed.

FYI, I wasn't taking the pictures with a sexual context in mind. But even if I was...

...suppose I was decipting a young girl... appearing to be nude, curled up in the corner of a bathroom with her head in her arms... yes, that can certainly be seen as sexual. But is it pornographic? Is a child looking frightened, vulnerable, and young somehow erotic? Does it invite to molest her, to hurt her when she's already hurt? Or does it decipt her pain at having been violated?

Or if I photograph a child at a street corner, dressed like a prostitute, posed sexually. Is that inviting pedophiles to jack off to this child... or is it trying to show the sadness of a child forced into such a life?

I once was looking through a book of art in a bookstore, and came across a photo there. It looked, at first glance, like a typical portaint from the late 19th century. A group of men standing in a parlor, all dressed in black, looking somber. And in the center - a young girl, nude, maybe ten years old.

Was it sexual? Yes. Was it pornographic? No. It was an extremely powerful photograph. I could talk for hours about what I thought its meaning was, and I'm sure many other people could find other meanings... but the important thing is, the picture was not remotely erotic or inviting.

There is a HUGE difference between, say, a child photographed masturbating, or a child photographed unwillingly nude... or a child photographed willingly in a situation that COULD be seen as sexual but is not pornographic.

A child doing something obviously sexual or being sexually exploited is ALWAYS wrong, even if it's 'artistic'. But... hey! My photos don't have any (visible) abuse of any kind shown in them, and nothing sexual is happening, and - this part is really amazing - she's not naked.

Prints of this photo are available through DA and through me. If you live in the USA I'd FAR prefer you get the print directly from me - it ends up cheaper for you, and I get a lot more profit (atm I get about two dollars per print). Email me at if you're interested.
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kevinroberts Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2016  Professional Photographer
Well done. Thanks for sharing, your photos and your thoughts.
aericmon Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I would try and make her happy if I were really there. Great job!
And it's not "decipt", it's "depict".
ChillBill86 Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2016
Ich hab noch nicht raus gefunden wie aber dieses Foto sollte schleunigst gelöscht werden! Pervers!!!
OhAdrian Featured By Owner Edited Jan 20, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
That is interesting, do you remember what book it was you saw that photo of the man standing around the naked child?

I don't understand why people think it is OK to force their belief system onto other people, Scientifically there is no direct link to sexuality, nudity, and harm. Sexuality can exist without with out the others, Nudity also, and harm can as well. The truth is that the real dangers, STDs -unwanted pregnancy -abduction -and rape, are exacerbated by ignorance and prohibition. The best way to protect against the dangers of sexuality is by providing a safe environment to engage in, providing access to information -technology - and medicine, as well as having a 3rd party with an open line of communication.

Safe sexual activity is healthy, and the lack there of can be unhealthy in many ways, the truth is that there is no logical reason for primitive traditional to oppress people who deviate from their sexual ideals or ideals of nudity. Nudity does not = sex and sex does not = harm. Ignorance = danger and openness = safety. People who want to create this openness are the more evolved group of people.
ceruleetheblue Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Shame on the people who call this porn. Even if you didn't explain your troubled past and the inspiration for this photo it's quite obvious it's meant to be a statement on just how sick and depraved human nature can be. I'm sorry for you and all these innocent children who were and continue to be violated. Anyone who feels anything other than sadness from seeing this image needs to make sure their heart is still beating.
universalartworld Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2014  Professional General Artist
brad269 Featured By Owner May 23, 2014
This all just proves, again, that people see what their prejudices permit them to see. As LilithSamae16 said four years ago, " are very strong to stand up and fight..." Then, now, and always.

NomisTT Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2013
It is amazing that people would consider this child porn. I am not from the US, and where I come from people are much more relaxed about child nudity. If there is no one exploiting a child, and there is no harm being done, what is the big deal? The thought police are so rampant these days.
MEW-tiful Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2011  Professional General Artist
Your photo has been used here [link]
laviedesmortes Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Can I draw this but with a few of my own touches? I was too abused as a child, and I feel that this gives a good visual reference to what I would like to portray in my photograph
Clover-san311 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
that's not porn... whoever told you that needs to get a life. i mean you can't even SEE anything so how is it porn!!! is pictures of a little girl in a swimsuit porn too?!?!?!
ravy626 Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2010
LilithSamael6 Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2010
This is a wonderful piece and your comments are refreshing, sensible and very reasonable. You are very strong to stand up and fight for reasonable thought and expression like this - considering many who have never been victims of anything take the reactionary route [keeping up appearances].

We have been victims ourselves of several forms of sexual and nonsexual violence - and prefer to take an affirmative and reasonable route in life as opposed to resentment, reactionary chauvinism and indulging in secondary gain.

We are very deeply impressed.
BonnieElizabeth Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2010
What a cute, little girl... how could some people dare to make it into a piece of pornographic trash? It depence on the person who take a look. I don't see anything pornographic in a little, naked child... Wonderful picture <3
MEW-tiful Featured By Owner May 5, 2010  Professional General Artist
I stand by you
Silicon212 Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2010
I agree with you and your very well said argument. Your pictures are lovley.
Morbid-Twitch Featured By Owner May 28, 2009  Hobbyist Artist
To me this photo shows the pain of sexual abuse, it is not child porn,
this photo speaks volumes. i feel so shitty tonight, ive been getting more memorys and more nightmares an this picture puts into words what children and people feel when they are sexually abused!!!@

good photo.
Cloudwalker77 Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2008
I totally agree with your opinion that portraying a child not completely dressed doesn't mean to be child pornography. Unfortunately, there are so many hypocrites and sexually hysterical people out there who would like to put children under a burqa. Concerning children, we live in a new Victorian Age.

But there was one phrase I didn't understand:

"A child doing something obviously sexual or being sexually exploited is ALWAYS wrong"

I agree with your statement about sexual exploitation, but if you suggest that sexual activities of children are wrong you sound as like you would support the oppression of child sexuality. For there are so many bigoted people who hide this purpose beneath a skin-deep child save attitude, I hope this was not what you wanted to express.
Dory83 Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2008
very moving photo. Brings up alot of emotions for me. Well done. As for others criticizing your photography, most people can't stand to see something that reminds them that sometimes children hurt. It's easier to put a bad label on it and hide it away than to look at it. Again, good work. The texture is interesting and the lighting suits the photo.
Art-fire Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2008
wow! the explanation you gave for your photo was actually more impressive than the photo itself! I have actually done a recent series on child soldiers recently and want to continue on to other child abuses in the world, mostly in the US so its close to home to my audience, as you said, "Is that inviting pedophiles to jack off to this child... or is it trying to show the sadness of a child forced into such a life?" I am actually also considering asking you if you would allow me to paint this photo? or another photo thats similar? I have been exhibited in several universities and galleries so far that help me show the mass public the many different child abuses in the world and always give proceeds to organizations and tell the public of organizations that help my subjects.

so let me know what think of allowing me to use the photo or not?

thank you much!
Kiota Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2008
Certainly, I would be honored. :) I'd appreciate seeing it though, and if you end up exhibiting it, I'd like to know.
Art-fire Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2008
great! and absolutely, i will let you know if exhibited! when I am finished, if you would like a print of it, I will let you have one 10"x10" print on canvas!
Lacigam Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2008  Hobbyist
helllo.. i asked you more than a year ago if i can take this general picture and paint it? well, i did a while ago. it's not great, but i wanted to know if it was alright with you if i put it up. it's still different but the idea was originally yours.
Lacigam Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2008  Hobbyist
oh, i already asked. ahh, well, it's up:P
jenn4Xt Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2008
While its true that there are many fiends out there who prey on helpless little children, there are also alot of fanatics to tend to overreact on a slight provocation. Well, its a fine line and only the person who made it knows, deep down, what they all mean to them.

On a side note, when I see your other picture, it reminded me of one of my drawings. [link] :)
Kairu-Hakubi Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
mormons need to be punished for being moronish and harrassing people who take nice photos @_@
This is a nice photo :)
marshs Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2007   Photographer
This is an amazing photo.
randombabe Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2007
aw! tell ur little sister she's really cute! ha, great texture. those ppl who told u its pornology r probly 2 sexual themselves. go u!
pereztonella Featured By Owner May 20, 2007
I'm astonished; this is a good conceptual work, and people should judge it for what it really is. Anyway, as I think you know, interpretations are also determined by the context.
Here is surely a better place to show your works than ebay. While I like the concept very much, from a purely photographic point of view I feel a lack of quality. sorry
panikroom Featured By Owner May 19, 2007   Photographer
realy great work!...
yea..very nice to see ;)
Mantrith Featured By Owner May 4, 2007
:D i agree with you
Lacigam Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2007  Hobbyist
I'm sorry to hear that your art was not appreciated, even more sorry that you had to deal with child abuse. This piece actually inspired me to draw..somethign way toooo familiar to call my own (alright, i repainted your picture) and i'm actually not disapointed with the results. I promise that if i ever post it up on deviant (or anywhere else) I'll give you the credit. It's not exactly alike, mind you; the girl looks different, and possibly a little younger. Her face is titled up and you can see her eyes.. and she has cuts on her a bit..and the background walls are just painted, not tiled (i got lazy). Seriously though, really great pic. I think i'll add it to my favourites.
Kiota Featured By Owner May 1, 2007
I'd love to see it! :D
The-Infernal-Mind Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2007   Photographer
this is really cool, do you mind if I manipulate it??
Kiota Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2007
Go ahead. I'd love to see the finished work though.
twixler Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2007
Sally Mann, one of my favorite photographers, has gone through something very similar. She's taken wonderful photos of her children as they've grown up...and because in some of them her children are naked, she's had to defend herself against the idiots who think the human body is something ugly or sinful. Fortunately for the world of art, she knows her children are beautiful and she uses her camera to capture and convey that beauty. If you haven't seen her work before, here's a very small sampling: [link]

Keep up the good work! You're not alone! :D
Kiota Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2007
I LOVE her art. <333
twixler Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2007
:boogie: coolness! :bounce:
external-linq Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2007   Digital Artist
Society has made nudity into a sin, regardless of that being in a child or a adult, I'm glad to see you taking a stand against that because in my mind nothing is more artistic and natural as nudity.
brad269 Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2008
Absolutely do I agree, external linq; bitten kneecaps or not. <3
SteveAnaco Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2007   Photographer
This photo brings up so much emotion, Thank you for sharing it with us. Thank you also for your statement, I couldn't agree more and you put it so eloquently. It's unfortunate that we live in a world that is so freightened by it feelings that it regects anything that might bring out those deep dark scary ideas. Thanks again
PickledPepper Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2006
That's a beautiful picture and i'm sorry that some perverts had to contort your art into something nasty. It's true, that in society today we've become desensitized(sp) to almost all inclination of sexually explicit pictures of children in the media. I was wondering, i'm trying to find a piece of "controversial art" for a paper due in class. This would be wonderful to write about. It has to be persuasive and I would undoubtedly side with the innocence of the piece. Let me know if it's cool. Again I love this piece, it's beautiful.
Kiota Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2006
I would be honored if you chose to write about it. :)
DrmsrXXIII Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2006   Photographer
That was shocking...

That's your sister? Cute I say...
fuzzdelahoya Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2006
i agree with your comment.

some individuals are carelessly pre-judging artworks like this one.

sometimes their mind is too narrow as if what is porn and what is art.

but for some its paranoia.

i don't know who accuse your photo as porn,but one thing is for sure,many individuals surf the internet,but the scary part is some of those individuals are phedophiles who pretend to be a concern citezen.

but some surfer are just too narrow minded to understand the meaning of what they are looking at.

i say this photo of yours is good.

i can see the emotion depicted by it.perhaps the story behind the concept.
silverae Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2006
Hi Kiota
The pics are good, don't see why people would call them child porn, unless they're on a raving hunt looking for it or they are just offended by the wind, where others are only offended by the storm.
(icepearls, LJ)
Kiota Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2006
Thank you. :)
This is beautiful. Im sorry you had to deal with the moronic comments, as this piece has been misunderstood. The emotion portrayed, concept, lighting and pose are all beautiful, and very artistic.
Kiota Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2006
Thank you. :)
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Submitted on
June 11, 2006
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