Manhattan and Naked Threads

In a recently closed thread, it was asked if a girl underage had posed nude and how this could be possible, before degenerating into “can you prove it to me that she was nude?”.

I wish to try and answer the question as to how this could be possible. As I found out after researching the subject after seeing “American Beauty” (both female teenage subjects were under 18 when they did the film), I found (and correct me if I’m wrong) that teenage nudity in and of itself is not wrong as long as it is not portrayed in a lewd fashion and does not include sexual acts.

Now as to what constitutes a “lewd fashion” can be tricky. I think that not only do the “community standards” used to define pornography apply, but also other standards as well, which I don’t fully understand.

However, there apparently are artists who make their living by photographing nude underage girls legally. A former landlord of mine did some shoots of Brooke Shields nude when she was 10 <?>, with full consent of her mother. He got mad at me when I asked him to take the pictures down (they were right outside my bedroom!) saying that there was nothing wrong with them.

you don’t happen to live in texas, do you? i had a similar experience about 7 years ago with a lanlord/housemate that photographed young girls and hung them around the house. they weren’t nude pics, but ‘inappropriately posed’ considering the age of the subjects (10-12). the whole thing was pretty creepy and i ended up moving out.

In this case, Skott, I’m sure manhattan was trying to err on the side of caution, in order to protect this website. Links to nude photos of underaged models are inappropriate for this site. As you pointed out, there are ways for someone to find this information without explicitly providing it for them.

Don’t take it as an insult against you, but just an example of a moderator trying to do a thankless job.

Hum, thought this was going to be a photo of Manhattan in his whitie tighties! Darn.


My apologies to you (and to manhattan) if it seemed like I was critisizing manhattan for closing the thread. That wasn’t my intention; I simply wanted to answer the question as to whether it was legal for an underage model to pose nude.

I simply mentioned manhattan’s name in the title to a) subtly draw attention that this was connected to another thread and b) attempt humor. I suppose I failed on both points.

Again, my apologies to both parties.


I was in California at the time (still am, but elsewhere). The photo itself wasn’t a bad one… it was a very beautiful shot of Brooke. There was nothing lewd about it. However, he placed it just outside my door so everytime I left my bedroom I got a young, naked, Brooke Shields looking at me. It ended up being quite disconcerting and I asked him to take it down. After our discussion/arguement about child nudity, he moved it to a different spot in the house.

Then isn’t the film illegal by your definition? Kevin Spacey had his mouth all over her nipple in the movie. Or is that not a sexual act?

I don’t know the specifics about nude modeling and underage persons, but I suspect that it’s all about context. A tasteful (i.e., non-pornographic) photo of a young woman over 16 but under 18 may be legal in most states.

If this post stays near the top long enough, I’m sure the legions of legal eagles regularly posting on the GQ board will have an answer.

No offense taken, Skott. As noted, I closed the prior thread not for it’s subject matter, but because the OP was skulking around like a 12-year old trolling for a link to pictures of an underage person after I noted in no uncertain terms that such a link is inappropriate to this website. Discussion of what would make such a picture legal or illegal is perfectly legitimate.

That would be almost more offensive to our readership than a link to kiddie porn. :wink:

After referring to, I guess I was mistaken about both girls being under 18. Mena Suvari (the one mentioned) was born on Feb. 9, 1979, and turned 18 in 1997, before shooting even started.

However, Thora Birch, the other teen, was born on March 11, 1982, which means that she didn’t turn 18 until March 2000. American Beauty was released in 1999.

As to the law, I found this link:

Interesting to me is that the person in question does not even have to be a minor, just look like one.

Guy Propski wrote:

As near as I can determine, under US federal law (Title 18 Chapter 110, see Skott’s link), nude pictures of minors (no matter what their age) are not illegal in and of themselves. It only becomes illegal if the picture has a minor engaged in “sexually explicit conduct” and simple nudity doesn’t qualify for that.

Persumably this is the case so that naked baby pictures and photos from nudist camps don’t land people in jail. Of course, there’s a difference, IMO, between having such photos in a family photo book and, say, posting them on the web, but I don’t think the law differentiates between those cases.

Well, search for ‘biel’ at Hatter…you know them, they won’t post anything illegal but your pics are there, I mean you can find the magazines for sale with her pics there.

Am I the only one who thinks this is a very scary concept? If I decide to take pictures of my (mythical) 29 year old girlfriend posing naked in a schoolgirl uniform, that’s theoretically child porn. And that’s a very wrong precedence.

I looked at the linked page (Title 18 Section 2256), and I’m not exactly sure how you came to that conclusion. Could you quote where it says that?

If you got that impression from this passage:

then I believe you’re interpreting it incorrectly. I think the “appears to be” doesn’t refer to whether the person is a minor, but whether the minor is actually “engaging in sexually explicit condut”, i.e. a photo where a minor appears to be having sex but in reality the sex was just simulated is still illegal.

Parse it out!

The clause clearly says “such depiction is” of a minor or “such depiction appears to be” of a minor. It says nothing about whether the sexual conduct is real or apparent.

What you think of the law is open to argument. What the law says here is not.

How could somebody be naked and wearing a uniform at the same time?

Oh sure: “her genitals are naked”. Cop out.

I have to disagree with you on that, as I do see an opening for an argument. And the clause does say something “about whether the sexual conduct is real or apparent”, you simply stop your parsing too soon. Let’s try it again. It says “such visual depiction is” of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct or “such visual depiction appears to be” of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

So, if a minor appears to be engaging in sexually explicit conduct in a visual depiction, however that conduct isn’t actually happening, but rather being simulated, would it still match the conditions the clause outlaws? Yes, because they appear to be engaging in it, and the clause prohibits that. Now, you might argue that is all well and good, but if a person who isn’t a minor, but appears to be one, is engaging in sexually explicit conduct in a visual depiction that matches the clause as well. Fair enough, I agree that it is possible to interprete the clause that way. However, let’s examine our terms a little closer. I already posted how US title 18 chapter 110 defines “sexually explicit conduct” (in section 2256) earlier in this thread (and it explicitely says that the conduct can be simulated in that quote), so let’s see how they define “minor”:

So, the question is, can a person appear to be under 18? I’m not so sure about that. Certainly, a person can appear to be young, whether they are or not. But being under 18 is not a subjective condition, either you are or you aren’t, and while whether or not a person appears to be engaged in sexual conduct might be somewhat subjective with some room for argument, whether a person appears to be under 18 is highly subjective with a huge room for argument.

Also, it is my understanding that the exact letter of the law is not the whole story when interpreting what a law may mean; some attention is paid to what the writers of the law intended (if it is possible to determine that) and how past courts have ruled on the matter. If that wasn’t the case the only reference the US Supreme Court would ever need is a dictionary. So if I get a bit of time I’ll try to look up some case law regarding this. I suspect it will be pretty easy to find cases where people were found guilty of producing a “visual depiction” in which a minor was simulating sexually explicit conduct, whereas I’d be suprised if I found cases where people were convincted of producing a “visual depiction” in which someone over the age of 18 who looked younger was engaged in sexually explicit conduct. But, I guess we’ll see.

I believe that a federal court ruled unconstitutional the ‘depiction appears to be’ clause in the law, because it was vague. It could apply to all babyface 18+ year olds. I am not sure about the case reference, though.

The Tin Drum, one of the great foreign films, was recently pulled because of this.

Unaware of the content of The Tin Drum, but aware that the novel was written by a Nobel prize winner, I rented it recently.

The film was rated R (in Australia) and I’d been watching 90 minutes or so, thinking, this is disturbing, but R?

Then the contraversial scene. Whoah.

Later there were other (non-sexual) scenes equally emetic in effect.

I can’t imagine that anyone would find any of it erotic though.


I know that the ACLU has been fighting laws similar to this, if not this law in particular. Here’s a link from an outcry against the ACLU, somewhat accusing them of defending child pornography.

Also, here’s a site that contends that the act amounts to a “thought patrol”.