Another of the Nude Teen Pictures under debate by Bill Henson
A local paper, from Bill Henson’s old stomping ground Northcote, took a different tack in this case by interviewing local children and seeking their opinions on the controversy. what is interesting in my opinion is the fact that the children seem less concerned about the issues purported by the media and more about their own body images and the perception of their peers. I think that it’s sad that that is their first concern but my biggest fear is that all the hype and furor may make the young models feel ashamed of their bodies and nakedness when they shouldn’t. can you imagine the courage it took to model? as a young, insecure child? I remember those days all too clearly and I think that it’s important that no matter whether you agree with the works or not, whether you accept the models choices to pose, take a moment to appreciate the bravery it took and the strength they must need to stand tall in the face of this controversy.
Year 9 arts students from Thornbury High School said they wouldn’t like to see Henson prosecuted but neither would they want to pose for him themselves.
“I wouldn’t (pose for him),” said Mutinta, 14. “Imagine coming to school and you guys going ‘I saw you … ‘ “
Classmate Mary, 14, said the decision to pose was up to the individual. “I think it’s all a personal choice. A naked person is not a big deal for me,” she said.
“If I felt comfortable with my body and whatever, I probably would, but it depends on what you think.”
“I think it’s a bit wrong because the girl’s a bit young,” said Damien, 14.
Mary said she didn’t share her mother’s concerns about paedophiles getting excited by the photos.
But Billy, also 14, said it was something he’d thought about. “Knowing there might be a dirty old man fantasising about it that would scare me,” he said.
And while the students had concerns about the impact of the work and the ability of young people to give consent, they also defended the right to freedom of expression in art.
“I think you should look at art for being art and stop focusing on the negatives,” Mutinta said.