Closeups of crotches. Pin-up girl pouts. Lace and Lycra. It sounds like the stuff of Sports Illustrated magazine, but it's all content on the website and Instagram account of an Australian-based children's dancewear label, Frilledneck Fashion.
Its Instagram account has 19,600 followers – presumably, not all of them tween dance fans. Comments next to photos of girls posing seductively and frolicking in bikinis read: "Perfect beautiful hair enjoy life have fun in life do the best you can out of life," and "Omg she's so pretty". The company is being investigated by Collective Shout, a grassroots campaigning movement against the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls.
What some critics find most disturbing is that the girls appear on the sites with their parents' blessing. "Parents are pimping [their children] out; these photos are very deliberately designed and construed," says Caitlin Roper, spokesperson for Collective Shout. "That an adult thought it would be OK to focus on a child's crotch is really quite sinister." As part of Ms Roper's investigations, she looked up Frilledneck Fashion on Google Images. For 'similar images', the search engine threw up shots of Victoria's Secret models.
According to eSafety Commissioner Alastair MacGibbon, paedophiles are increasingly co-opting and mis-using even innocent photos of children sourced online. He warned parents of the dangers of posting their kids' photos on social media back in February "How much more of a risk is it when we're talking about highly sexualised images?" adds Ms Roper.
The sexualisation of pre-teen girls has infiltrated the media so much, she believes, that "we don't even blink when an underage girl wearing dance wear is lying on her back in an alley with a 'come hither' look. We need to be talking about this."
"In regards to the... pictures on our social media, 95 percent of these images are taken by their own choice of photographer, or often by the parents of the dancers," Frilledneck Fashion's director, Amelia Annand, told marie claire. "We are not present at any of these shoots, we share the images as appreciation for them choosing to work with our company. We don’t feel any of these images are exploiting the dancers."
Ms Roper has not received any response from Frilledneck Fashion since contacting the company six weeks ago.