A new image of Willow Smith, the 13-year-old daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, has made her parents the target of parenting criticism for a photo of the teen star lying in bed with 20-year-old actor Moises Arias.
A black and white photo posted May 6 on Instagram shows Smith fully clothed in a bed lying beside the shirtless Arias who is sitting up against the wall. Arias had the photo posted on his Instagram page, but quickly had it removed, due to the backlash he had received on Twitter.
While the two are not touching in the photo, the image has triggered questions about whether the pose is age-inappropriate for the girl. Pinkett-Smith is said to be frustrated by buzz about the incident, according to a TMZ story that said the mother’s irritation is not directed at her daughter.
“Here's the deal: There was nothing sexual about that picture or that situation," Smith told TMZ. "You guys are projecting your trash onto it, and you're acting like covert pedophiles, and that's not cool."
TMZ reportedly contacted sources at the L.A county sheriff’s office which covers the area where the Smith family lives and they responded saying there’s nothing “sexual enough” to raise police eyebrows.
Arias, who is best known for his former role as Rico on “Hannah Montana,” is connected socially and artistically with the Smith family. He directed Willow’s older brother Jaden’s music video “Hello.” Also, last October Arias joined the Smith siblings, along with television personalities and fashion models Kendall and Kylie Jenner, at SUGARFISH, a sushi restaurant in Calabasas, a Santa Monica, Calif. community, according to Fox News.
This is not the first time the Smith teen has been criticized for acting too mature for her age. Last year, Smith’s track “Summer Fling” had many critics questioning the age appropriateness for the then-12 year old singer. Lyrics on the track includes the phrases, “Don’t really care what we do tonight. Good night kisses if the mood is right. Laying by the beach with you, wishing this will never end,” according to sheknows.com.
The video shows her with a much older love interest and the body language and the concept of “fling” leave people to interpret something sexual. Human behavior expert Patrick Wanis labeled the track inappropriate and criticized the Smiths’ parenting.
“Her parents are being irresponsible and verging on negligent by failing to fulfill their role as parents – to guide their daughter and set boundaries and limits for her,” Wanis told Fox 411. “While children might rebel, they actually need boundaries, discipline, guidance and wisdom. And the Smiths are obviously not doing that.”
The Smiths said they believe their kids are mature enough to make their own decisions and do not believe in punishing their children. "We don't do punishment," Will told Metro last year. "The way that we deal with our kids is, they are responsible for their lives. Our concept is, as young as possible, give them as much control over their lives as possible and the concept of punishment, our experience has been — it has a little too much of a negative quality."