A model lies on the ground, her back arched as the sun illuminates her frame. A protruding chest is teamed with a longing gaze. And lipstick-kissed lips form sumptuous pouts.
The models featured in these photographs are as young as nine. Most of them are under the age of 15.
The photographs are posted on an Australian dancewear company’s social media site and are shared with tens of thousands of followers.
Frilled Neck Fashion’s followers post comments of appreciation — and while many people give positive feedback about the costumes, the praise is largely directed at the models:
“Wow you are so gorgeous.”
“Love this one!”
“You look extremely stunning.”
“Hey follow me.”
Women’s advocacy group Collective Shout received complaints about the photo shoots and its campaigns manager, Caitlin Roper, started to investigate.
She acknowledges there are photos of dance performances and dance moves, but says she is appalled and shocked by the adult-like poses and styling contained in the photo shoots.
“When girls are young, they all like to put on their mum’s heels and somehow always find the red lipstick, that’s child-led curiosity,” she told ABC News.
“What’s disturbing about these photographs is that at some point, someone told this child, ‘Lay down on the ground, arch your back, don’t smile, look serious and pout’.”
Ms Roper also discovered parents approved of the posts, and often boasted about how beautiful their child looked.
“Girls as young as nine don’t have the emotional maturity or context to understand the potential implications of sharing these photos publicly and promoting them on social media,” Ms Roper said.
Using information publicly available on the dancewear company’s social media pages, ABC News was able to quickly locate the schools and addresses of two of the young models who feature heavily on Frilled Neck Fashion’s Instagram page.
“It’s really quite risky; it’s something [parents] need to be aware of,” Ms Roper said.
“It’s reckless behaviour that is putting young girls at risk. You can find these girls so easily by tracking them online, their profiles are often public and they give up a lot of information about who they are and where they live.”
In an interview with ABC radio earlier this year, eSafety Commissioner Alastair MacGibbon warned parents to take more care in selecting photos they share on social media.
Even seemingly innocent family photos of children in everyday life were being extracted and sexualised by paedophiles, Mr MacGibbon says.
Ms Roper says if regular photos of “kids being kids” could be sexualised and posted elsewhere, the risk to these young models is “hugely concerning”.
“This is a case of adults failing to act in the best interest of the child,” she said.
Ms Roper contacted the dancewear company over the course of several weeks, to no avail.