Is it illegal to show a girl under the age of 18 nude?

This is about the movie American Beauty. In it, Thora Birch appears nude(topless) when that one dude looks across at her through the window. She was 17 when they filmed it, yet it was not a body double. When Roger Ebert was asked this in his most recent movie guide, he stated that it is not technically illegal to show someone under the age of 18 with no clothes.

Huh? I thought it definately was. If not, then what is the law? How old does someone have to be to be nude on film? Could they have shown everything on Thora Birch or were they limited to toplessness?

By the way, here is the link to her entry on the IMDB(she may have even been 16 when they actually filmed the movie).,+Thora

I guess you have to copy and paste that link to get it to work. Sorry.

Showing pictures of someone nude, no matter the age, is not, I believe, illegal (at least in the US). What makes it illegal is if the person is shown in a sexual situation (a boy with an erection, for instance).

I cannot speak for other countries, though.

What likely stopped the producers of the movie from showing complete frontal nudity was the rating they were trying to get for the movie.

Yeah, I believe Brooke Shields appeared fully & frontally nude in some movie pertaining to a New Orleans house of prostitution back when she was 12.

According to a friend, Thora Birch was able to show off topless in American Beauty because the Dreamworks people had to submit this film to the MPAA or whatever to show the topless scene had artistic value to the film.

I seem to recall reading that on that day of shooting Birch’s parents were present on the set, as was a social worker.

Showing a person under the age of 18 nude is not illegal. If it were, every parent in America would be in trouble for that embarasing picture of the kids in the bathtub. :smiley:

What is illegal is showing kids under 18 in sexually explicit activity.

I have had developers refuse to print naked pictures of my kids as babies and very young children. No sexual content, just the average bare butts.

I am a camera salesperson and a film developer and develop naked babies (and adults) all the time. It’s not illegal, the company was just covering their butts for various reasons.

Is there a clearly demarked line, or is it a case of “I know it when I see it”?

I mean, I could concievably see someone releasing a series of photos of a girl taking off her clothes, without having her make any sexual gestures, but making sure she is smiling into the camera the whole time and displaying the relevant “zones” pretty prominantly - and claiming afterwards that she is not in a sexual situation in the photos. He could claim she’s just “modelling” or whatever… Even though everyone would know they were lying, would the pictures nevertheless be legal?


Was she nude or just topless. In NYS I know that women are allowed to go topless leagaly as long as it is not done in a sexual way. Also medical textbooks will sometimes have pictures of nude male and female bodies in childhood,teenage and adult stages of development.

And a man in Ontario was arrested for having taken a picture of his baby son in the bathtub. (The charges were dropped later.) Which just goes to show you how damned stupid pornography laws are.

Mahaloth, your question answers itself, doesn’t it? If it were illegal, they couldn’t have shown that film. Thus, since they showed it, it must have been legal.

It was kinda artistic though.

I’m not quite sure about that logic, handy.

IANAL, but I believe most pornography/obscenity laws, including the federal statutes, make reference to “community standards”. I suspect that underage nudity would count as a pretty clear violation of standards in some communities, but I doubt most people knew about it (the age, not the nudity).

No, it’s not illegal. And why would it be?

I’ve seen plenty of nude children in movies and on TV, especially in Europe. Let’s try and remember nudity does mean sex, at least not everywhere.

— G. Raven

Pretty Baby

RE: The question. Not necessarily, but there are restrictions which can be rather subjective. “Lacivious exhibition of genitalia” comes to mind (as opposed to non-lacivious? How exactly does one tell the difference?). Several photographers have created some of their most critically acclaimed work by utilizing just this subject matter. Sally Mann and Jock Sturges come to mind.

Umm… yeah! I agree! They should show more nudity on network TV, 'cuz… it’s not sex! It’s art!


Amen to that! (I’m thinking that Morrison’s Lament meant to say that nudity does NOT mean sex, though…especially at my house. I mean, I’m nude a lot, but it ain’t helpin’…)

LOL, I can’t believe I forgot the key word in the sentance!

NOT! It does NOT mean sex!

Now carry on :smiley:

— G. Raven

Actually, it’s illegal in the US to show any woman under 18, clothed or not, in a suggestive sexual way.

Im pretty sure Brooke Shields was older than she portrayed. Its common for them to use older actors to portray younger ones.