The Willow Smith Picture Debate: Inappropriate or Innocent?

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A picture of Will Smith’s 13 year old daughter Willow on a bed with 20 year old ‘Hannah Montana’ actor Moises Arias has sparked controversy throughout the internet for a variety of reasons. Some are branding the picture thoroughly inappropriate and calling Will and his wife Jada’s parenting into question. Others think we all need to relax, after all there’s nothing actually ‘going on’ in the picture. Inappropriate or innocent, how has one picture managed to create so many thousands of words?

Willow SmithWillow Smith

The picture in question, which was posted to Instagram by Moises Arias and subsequently deleted, is a black and white shot which shows the pair laying on a bed. Arias is shirtless, sitting up with his back against the wall, whist Willow is laying further down on the bed, fully clothed with her head resting on her arms. It looks like the kind of ‘arty’ picture that might feature in any magazine editorial or fashion advert. What makes it problematic is that Willow is just 13 whilst Arias is 20.

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Although the picture doesn't suggest any ‘inappropriate’ behaviour between the pair, nor are they thought to be anything more than just friends, it’s understandable why for some the image has caused concern. But while the pair might have a big age gap, Arias is actually a known friend of the whole Smith family and is particularly close with Willow’s 15 year old brother Jayden.

Jada Pinkett Smith and Willow SmithWillow's mother Jada has spoken out to defend the picture

Willow’s famous parents are known for their more ‘liberal’ approach to parenting. A few weeks ago the 13 year old singer and her brother spent the weekend partying at Coachella, seemingly without parental supervision. Indeed in the past Will has even said that he gives his children “as much control over their lives as possible” . Now Jada has come out and said the media are “acting like covert pedophiles” in regards to the picture and stating that “there was nothing sexual about that picture or the situation.”

More: Willow's Parents Defend Picture

The problem is, even if all intentions behind the image were completely innocent, it’s hard to imagine that Arias or anyone else couldn't have thought that publishing this picture would raise a few eyebrows at least. Even if there was nothing sexual about the situation or the picture it still doesn't necessarily make it appropriate. Other teenagers Willow’s age probably aren’t friends with 20 year old men and a lot of them also probably aren’t even allowed in a bedroom with boys their own age, let alone 20 year olds. But can we rightly pass judgement on the situation based on just one picture?

Willow SmithWillow Smith's picture has been deemed inappropriate by some

The other side of the debate is that we actually don’t know what the picture’s context was. The pair clearly weren't alone together, someone else took the photo. If it’s the bed setting and Arias being shirtless which is causing all the outrage, then what if they were just out at the beach together? There’s actually been other pictures of the two together before, but none of them have caused this much debate.

Where ever you stand on the picture, anyone who sees it has the right to find it inappropriate but beyond that there’s not much more that can be made of the issue. The more we sensationalise it, the more we’re subjecting Willow to public scrutiny and really, that is something which is ‘inappropriate’ for a 13 year old to have to deal with.


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