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At first glance, much of the content posted on @wren.eleanor, a TikTok account with more than 17 million followers, is fairly innocuous. The page largely consists of videos of an adorable little girl with flaxen pigtails who looks to be about three, climbing counters to get Girl Scout cookies, bursting water balloons on the 4th of July, and eating apple cider donuts. The account also appears to be making money, with Wren’s mother Jacquelyn posting sponsored content featuring the two of them for brands like Shein and Hippeas.
Over the past few weeks, however, there’s been a movement driven by TikTok moms calling out potentially creepy people following the account; they have also accused Jacquelyn of exploiting her child on social media. The discussion has largely focused on Wren and Jacquelyn, but it’s expanded to include other TikTok mom creators who post content of their very young children. The discourse touches on the ethics of whether images of children should even be on social media to begin with, and has prompted many parents to delete videos of their own kids from their accounts, as discussed on this week’s episode of Don’t Let This Flop, Rolling Stone‘s podcast about internet news and culture.
To be clear, there is no evidence that Jacquelyn is exploiting Wren in any way. Rather, the concern seems to be centered more on the type of content Jacquelyn is posting, such as a (now-deleted) video of Wren playing with a tampon or Wren taking a bath in a bathing suit, according to posts on a subreddit devoted to Wren that has more than 13,000 subscribers. Commenters have pointed out not only that such videos get more likes and saves than some of Wren’s other videos, but they have even tracked down the social media footprints of some of Wren’s followers, pointing to concerning comments they have made or other videos they have saved to indicate they may be sexually attracted to children. Commenters have also pointed to the existence of fan accounts for Wren and searches such as “Wren eating corndog” and “Wren scandalous outfits” as evidence that she is being sexualized by a contingent of her followers.
“I just came across this whole situation on TikTok and have never been more disgusted and horrified in my entire life,” says one commenter on the subreddit. “It makes me incredibly sad that the number one person who is supposed to protect this child just doesn’t seem to care about her safety and well-being, and is just using her as a prop for the spotlight and to pay her way.”
Wren is 3 years old🥲💔 #wreneleanor #savewren #comeonyouknowyoulikelittlegirls#protectchildren #wren #_wreneleanor #exploitation #wrenelenor #putmeinamovie #comeonyouknowyoulikelittlegurls #creep #saves #lanadelray #grooming #sa#savethechildren #greenscreen #fyp
Replying to @daisiesandbuckaroos just be cereduk what you post of your kids- even if it seems innocent, disgusting scum of the earth people sell, save and get off to any kid content.
Jacquelyn has not directly commented on the uproar over her account, and did not respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone. Yet the discussion over whether parent creators should be posting their children on social media is an age-old one, and certainly pops up time and again on TikTok in particular, where some of these child influencers become the center of intense speculation and even conspiracy theories. Such was the case for Bebop and Bebe, a mother/duo creator team that has become the subject of feverish conjecture due to their bizarre videos and Bebop’s overly made-up appearance and often mature outfits. Despite speculation that her mother may be trafficking her, the account has continued to post unabated without commenting on the controversy, leading to further charges of child exploitation.
The controversy of Wren Eleanor has led to a cavalcade of outraged moms removing videos featuring their own kids on social media, as well as legitimate questions as to whether there should be regulations in place to protect kid influencers. “The law hasn’t adapted yet to the current weird realities of social media,” one TikTok creator, @hotweirdgirl, says in a video. “So these kids aren’t protected by child labor laws.” There’s also been some discussion as to whether platforms like TikTok should allow very young children like Wren on the platform (technically, it does not — TikTok only allows users 13 and over to use the app — but many parents skirt this by creating parent-managed accounts and featuring the child on them). Regardless of the disturbing internet behaviors surfaced by this controversy, it has nonetheless created a valuable conversation about the dangers of posting children on social media, regardless of how innocuous parents may intend such content to be.
This week on Don’t Let This Flop, cohosts Brittany Spanos and Ej Dickson also discuss the controversial “vabbing” trend, the link between Lana del Rey’s new boyfriend and Julia Fox, J-Lo and Ben Affleck’s nuptials, and whether Drew Barrymore is secretly a golden retriever.