Maybe “I whip my hair back and forth / I whip my hair back and forth…” wasn’t as ‘innocent’ and kid-friendly as it seemed in when singer Willow Smith (often referred to as just Willow) released back in 2010, garnering a Billboard Hot 100 Top 15 hit. Why do I say that? Well, Willow has brought criticism upon herself and the Smith family in general that could’ve been avoided. Last week, 13-year old Willow took a picture with 20-year old Disney actor/photographer bud Moises Arias that ignited a fire storm among parents (and even some non-parents) alike. Smith was lying on the bed (clothed, thank goodness) while 20-year old Arias sat up near the head of the bed shirtless. The shot was artistic and likely artistic-minded from the perspective of Arias, but so many things are questionable and wrong about the entire photographic session. Still, there are pros and cons (I think cons outweigh the pros here) that will be analyzed and examined here.
I am a liberal, generally open-minded person by all means, but in some cases, it doesn’t hurt to trend more conservatively. This is one of those instances where trending more conservative is the better choice. A 13-year old certainly doesn’t need to be lying in bed with another 13-year old or teenager, let alone a 20-year old adult. Sure, would many consider a 20-year old socially still a kid? Yes, most would (I might even), but when compared to legal child who is just 13-year old, 20 is an adult, no questions asked. Therefore, it is “creepy” to see the photo of a teenage Willow Smith lying in bed with a shirtless Moises Arias. This sets a bad example, even if it was meant to be artistic, encouraging provocativeness and perhaps even sex at such a young age. Do I think either meant to send that impression? No or at least not necessarily, it was just a photographic opportunity, but in hindsight, it was a questionable move that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith should probably be decrying rather than embracing.
The other issue is, why are Arias and Smith in a bedroom together? Are they supervised or unsupervised, given Willow’s status as a minor? Maybe it’s overkill, but personally, these are legitimate questions in the bigger scheme of things. In a society where children are becoming sexually active at a younger age and promoting themselves more liberally, media like this can potentially send the wrong message.
Believe it or not, there is something advantageous about this immature, questionable event. Perhaps Willow and Arias desired the attention that something controversial like this might create. Maybe Willow was ready to come back into the spotlight, four years removed from “Whip My Hair” and a failure in “21st Century Girl”, while maybe former Disney star Arias was ready to elevate his own acting career from Disney to something more. Sure, this is speculation, but don’t let stars fool you – many enjoy press, particularly if it is promotional and beneficial. I don’t think that this particular press serves well for Willow, Arias, or the Smith’s parenting, but it does make the media begin to talk about Willow and Arias if nothing more.
Ultimately, when it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t condone something like this if I were a parent. Maybe it’s the more traditional, conservative Christian background/side of me coming out, but it brings unnecessary scrutiny and finger pointing to me, regardless of its intentions.