Most parents of young girls realize that there are predators out there. Dance moms and pageant moms tend to be especially vigilant since their daughters are in an increased spotlight. High-profile cases like the murder of JonBenét Ramsey have only heightened this attention to safety, making the potential consequences of daughters in the limelight chillingly clear.
Instead of minimizing the risk of predators, though, some moms are now capitalizing on it. A growing minority of moms are beginning to use social media like TikTok and Instagram to offer “exclusive” content of their daughters and their friends for profit. The “exclusive” content is of their daughters and their friends “modeling” in swimsuits or dance outfits or doing things like licking ice cream cones. Creeps are willing to pay big bucks to the mothers, or sometimes end up funding Amazon “wish lists” of bikinis and dance outfits for the underage girls who often have no clue what’s going on. While much of this behavior isn’t overtly illegal, it’s a gray area that’s clearly wrong and putting girls in danger while sexualizing and exploiting them. How does any mother see this as okay?
*This article is intended for readers 18 and older.*
Moms Exploiting Their Daughters on Social Media
Sarah Adams, leader of Mom.Uncharted, a movement to examine the negative effects of parents oversharing about their children online, usually focuses on unintended consequences. Many parents are excited to post photos and videos of their children, but don’t realize that they might be giving away identifying information or other content that could compromise their kids’ safety. Some mothers, however, know exactly what they’re doing.
Adams highlighted one example of a woman selling “modeling” packages and monthly subscriptions of her 12-year-old daughter. For $125, customers can get “VIP” media packages of the woman’s daughter and her friend. "50+ exclusive pics of us having a blast" and "15 videos of dancing, swimming, and other fun activities” are for sale a la carte. The comments on these kinds of accounts also show exactly how they’re being perceived and who the target audience is. “These parents know the exact audience they are catering to, and it's disgusting. It’s time for the platforms to shut this sh*t down – the exploitation of young girls is completely out of control,” Adams says in the caption.
In another example, a mother used an Amazon wishlist to allow people to buy the “budding dancer and model” bikinis and high heels. The girl in question is only 10 years old. “When is it no longer exploiting, and it’s literally pimping out your children?” Adams asks in a reel.
Sometimes this also happens accidentally, like in the case of 3-year-old Wren Elenor, whose mother had to remove photos of the little girl doing innocent things like eating hot dogs or pickles, after finding out the photos were being stolen and distributed for disturbing reasons. While her mother made a mistake, she wasn’t posting the content with the direct intent of exploiting her child.
Her 3-year-old daughter was the star of her TikTok account with a staggering 17 million followers, showing seemingly innocent content of the toddler. Her mother was only tipped off once she realized that more suggestive content of her daughter, such as videos of her in a crop top or eating a hot dog, were being saved frequently by viewers, some as many as 45,000 times. She also noticed unsettling comments on many videos, and found that the most frequent search terms for the account of her daughter were things like “Wren Eleanor hotdog” or “Wren Eleanor pickle.” The mother running the account removed the content of Wren, saying she now sees social media in a different light and won’t post content of her child until she’s much older.
Other moms, however, purposefully upload this more “innocent” content once they realize how well it boosts their views. Parents will pose their small children in front of cameras, either while recording or on livestream, with phallic-shaped foods or other objects, and leave the room. These videos, according to Adams, tend to include captions or on-screen phrases like “Will you babysit my child for a minute?”
Some moms take it even further, arranging for in-person meet-ups with small children, like one mom who took her 3-year-old daughter “on tour” and used Instagram to announce in-person meetups for the toddler's “fans” from New York City to Los Angeles. In her case, the meetup was for-profit and ticketed using Eventbrite.
Child predators have always existed, but social media and over-eager parents are giving them more power than ever before. Whether mothers knowingly pimp out their daughters online for profit or are simply the victims of the dark sides of oversharing, empowering pedophiles and predators is no small thing. There are currently very few laws restricting this sort of content, and aside from blatant child pornography, it’s pretty much all legal. Still, parents should know better and do better, and social media platforms should proactively restrict content that exploits little girls for their parents’ financial benefit.
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