When Breana Marie clicked "share" on an album of photos featuring her daughter last week, she had no idea she was about to become the center of an online controversy.
The photographer and mom to Ella, 3, had set up a wedding-themed shoot for her little girl and her friend's son, 5-year-old Sullivan. "The whole thing was so innocent," Breana says. "Ella and Sullivan love to play together and they're both really good friends, so we decided to do a photoshoot with them. I don't even know how the idea of a wedding came up, but I was like, 'How do you feel about it?," and my friend said, 'Oh, yeah, let's do it.'"
Fans of her photography business's Facebook page began sharing the images on their own pages, and from there, the pics took on a life of their own. "That first day, the majority of the comments were positive," Breana says. "I didn't really see anything negative until the second or third day."
By that time, outlets like ABC News had taken notice. And the more attention the photos got, the more vocal - and cruel - Breana's critics became.
"I've been accused of encouraging child marriage, which doesn't even make sense. I had someone accuse me of sexually exploiting my child for money, when I didn't make a dime on this - I spent money to produce this shoot," says Breana. "I've been accused of encouraging pornography; someone else said that they were going to call CPS on me; another person said that I should be investigated for being a pedophile."
Breana says she's mystified by the attacks. "Like, how do you get any of that from this?" she asks. "I absolutely adore my child. I'm a very proud mom. I want to be able to capture every moment. We had fun that day, and it's very tainted now."
Some of the shots that have drawn the most ire were the kids' ideas, Breana says. "Sullivan asked his mom if he could get a ring for the shoot, and right when we started, he turned around and dropped to one knee and put the ring on Ella's pointer finger," she recalls. "And Ella decided all on her own that she wanted to give Sullivan a kiss. In our family, we kiss all the time - that's just how we show affection. So for her, she was just showing her friend that she loved him."
Breana isn't especially comforted knowing that the internet will probably have moved on to its next target in a couple of days. "You know, in 10 years, when my child decided to Google her name, because we've all done it, this is the last thing I would want her to see," Breana says. "Internet bullying affects people, and it's not a short-term thing, it's a long-term thing."
But all she can do for now, she admits, is try to focus on moving forward. "I'm trying to block out the negativity because it's just not necessary," says Breana. "Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but you have to be respectful of the fact that these are children you're talking about. If someone doesn't like it, they don't have to read it - they're welcome to keep scrolling."
Follow Redbook on Facebook.
You Might Also Like