The story about Saaya Irie in the 22 May 2005 issue was a tad disturbing by itself, but what really brought the story home was the photos that were the topic of the story. That story — and a couple of example photos of an unusually …uh… mature 11-year-old girl, are here. On this page, reaction to the story and the photos.
“Having lugged a genuine F-cup around for the last 40 years, I can assure you that the fact that this lovely young woman has dozens upon dozens of professional photos on her various websites indicates her management’s chicanery, not her mutant precocity. Folks who buy into her publicity campaign merely perpetuate the exploitation of other child-women who want mostly to be admired and celebrated — even at the cost of their integrity. There are so many odd and amusing things going on on this planet; is stuff like this really something you need to perpetuate on your fine website? Thanks, as always, for making me think.” —Allena, California
True has always been about social commentary, using stupid things people do as its launching pad. The girl can be excused — she’s only 11, so presumably her parents are there to help her make decisions. And they’re doing a spectacularly bad job. Now, thanks to that, their daughter is being used as a political pawn. You better believe I have something to say about that! As for making you think, that is, after all, the idea. Clearly, the story helped you focus your own thoughts and express them well, so I have to believe I’ve done a very good job at prompting thought, even among those who find the images disturbing.
“I couldn’t help but wonder at the minds of the people behind the 11-year-old girl’s pictures and campaign. Using an 11-year-old child in this way is just wrong. Even if she is an unusually well-endowed 11-year-old. Is it any wonder why we live in a world full of social decay, when this is the sort of thing that the media exports around the world? Keep fighting the good fight against all this stuff, and the insane ‘Zero Tolerance‘ in schools, and all the rest of it…. Maybe send some GOOHF cards to the Japanese girl, and the kids in the ZT stories — I’ve got a feeling they’ll need them.” —Jon, U.K.
It’s a fine line to toe: how to comment on the situation without being a mere party to her exploitation. I did obviously decide to publish a couple of photos of the girl with the story; I have found over the years that the way to make people think twice about doing weird things isn’t to ignore them, but to confront their acts head on and expose their actions for what they really are — in this case, exploitation. If the girl were old enough to make an informed decision, I’d be fine with it, even if her decision was to exploit herself. But she’s not old enough, and the adults she is depending on have put her in a pretty rough place. It’s quite possible she’ll come out of it just fine; I hope so. Meanwhile, I have succeeded in making a lot of people think about the issue. My mail is about 40-1 in favor of my decision to run the story and the photos, so I think I’ve succeeded in keeping “within the line”.
It took several weeks, but I finally got the letter I was waiting for:
“Am I the only one upset about the political reason behind this exploitation — that the Japanese were attempting to ‘whitewash war crimes’ in their history books? I’m not sure which is worse — that the Japanese are trying to ‘bribe’ the Chinese into accepting a rewrite of history by showing them [clothed] juvenile breasts or that Chinese men seem to be buying into it. The rape of Nanking? Who cares, look at these breasts! That’s frightening. If I saw this in a movie (and it wasn’t an obvious parody of the human condition) I would think how totally unrealistic it is. And I’d be wrong.” —Dan, Illinois
Congrats, Dan: it’s about danged time that someone really understood the real message of the story!
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