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These Moms Are Pushing Back After People Accused Them Of "Sexualizing" A Kids' Wedding Photo Shoot

Bria and Breana, both moms and photographers, intended for their kids to innocuously play "dress-up," but many found the themed photos to be anything but innocent.

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Last week, two moms from Texas, both professional photographers, decided to photograph their own kids in a wedding-themed photo shoot. Ella, 3, played the part of the bride, and 5-year-old Sullivan played the groom.

Breana Marie Photography

Ella's mom Breana and Sullivan's mom Bria told BuzzFeed News they had been planning a shoot with their children "for a really long time."

They eventually settled on the wedding theme.

"You see so many old-time photos of dress-up weddings, and the kids do dress-up weddings, so why not," Breana said.

Breana shared the photos to Facebook, and they were then featured by ABC News. In her interview with the publication, she described the relationship between the children as kids who "love hanging out together.”

Breana Marie Photography

“They would run from one set to another set holding hands the whole time... They even kissed once or twice and it was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Breana described the shoot.

“I would die of happiness if they got married in the future,” she added.

The response from Breana and Bria's immediate social media circles had been mostly positive — many friends and family complimented the quality of their photos and how "adorable" their kids were styled.

However, after ABC News promoted their interview and feature over the weekend, the public opinion had shifted.

@ABC "Our kids like to play together so we sexualized them & made them pretend to marry each other bc what else do… https://t.co/5vExk79fcn

People took issue with both the optics of the shoot and how the friendship between young children was being represented.

@ABC This isn't magical, it's creepy and tells the kids that cross-gender friendship must have a romantic/sexual component.

They did not see the "fun" or whimsicality in the mom's photos. Many believed two children role-playing a romantic wedding was an example of "sexualizing" and "fetishizing" their innocence, and pushing an adult fantasy onto children.

@ABC Disgusting, not magical. They're being sexualized, ffs. Let them be kids.

@makledes @FadeResistant @ABC I'd say fetishizing innocence. It's so gross. There's a lot of this in bad Hallmarky-… https://t.co/D64wNzsMe2

Others did not articulate it as critically, but expressed their general discomfort with the photo shoot concept.

@ABC Something about this makes me super uncomfortable.

The backlash has only grown this week.

I'm not the kind of person to throw the word 'problematic' out there, but damn that shit's problematic. https://t.co/FThplmiqS3

Breana said she's disheartened and confused by the negative reaction. "I don't understand how people can take something done for fun and innocently and turn it into anything sexual," she said. "It's sad."

Breana

"Me and my friend participated in a shoot that we did not realize was going to be picked up. Overnight we went viral," she said.

"If I ever thought that anyone would have come to that conclusion I would have never done this with my child."

She reiterated that this was all done innocuously and for "fun."

The moms have even received harsh and disturbing threats, Breana said, including one from a stranger who said her daughter would get pregnant at a young age.

Breana Marie Photography

"I've been called every name under the sun and accused of every disgusting thing you could ever think of," she said.

Breana believes she's experiencing symptoms of cyberbullying as a parent.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I was opening up my child or myself to Internet bullying."

Some claim they're imposing heteronormative agendas on their children, which both moms deny.

Heteronormative standards being forced on children Still not as creepy as Gender reveal parties though.... https://t.co/TgoDZr3KfX

"You can't teach kids who to love. You can teach them who to hate, and we've worked hard to make sure no one is on that list," Bria said.

how 'bout stop pushing your gross & harmful heteronormative agenda on children. https://t.co/XPE5SeydVX

"All we can do is encourage them to love all people," she added.

Breana and Bri stated and restated that they did not ever intend to offend anyone with their wedding-themed shoot.

While they understand people will continue to have opinions, they hope people will approach them with "kindness."

Breana Marie Photography

"Everyone is entitled to [an opinion]; you don't have to like everything that you see on Facebook or social media," said Breana. "But remember that somebody's on the other end of that feedback you're giving. Kindness goes a long way."

Tanya Chen is a social news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in New York.

Contact Tanya Chen at tanya.chen@buzzfeed.com.

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