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Ashley Benson promotes racy R-rated film with threesome scene in Seventeen Magazine

  • Ashley Benson Reuters 660.JPG

    Ashley Benson (Reuters)

  • Spring Breakers 3.jpg

    Scenes from the trailer of "Spring Breakers." (Spring Breakers/ Division Films)

  • Spring Breakers 1.jpg

     (Spring Breakers/ Division Films)

  • Spring Breakers 2.jpg

     (Spring Breakers/ Division Films)

Does doing a threesome for a film, and then promoting on the cover of top tween/teen magazine, seem a little … off?

Ashley Benson, 23, graces the cover of Seventeen Magazine’s April edition promoting her flick “Spring Breakers,” which is rated R for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use and violence. 

The raunchy movie is being marketed as a “bacchanalia of bikinis, beach parties and beer bongs” which takes a provocative look at the seasonal American ritual. 

Benson’s character Brit even gets down and dirty for a threesome with her co-stars James Franco and Vanessa Hudgens.

“I’m really happy I had Vanessa to be there with me and James he’s done this a million times, he didn’t make it awkward at all. We were very comfortable,” Benson told HollywoodLife.com of the salacious scene. “Vanessa and I were so thankful that we were so close and had each other because any intimate scene is very awkward.”

The nature of Benson's film has led some to question whether it is appropriate for her to be promoting it in a magazine targeting girls ages 12 to 19.

“It is not just inappropriate for Benson to be on the cover of Seventeen, it is ludicrous. The girls reading Seventeen are 13 and 14 years old, and they are learning about an actress whose most recent film includes a threesome sex scene?  That is awful,” body image expert Sarah Maria told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “That is a disgrace to our society and our consideration for young girls. It sends a message to young girls that is beyond inappropriate. It is downright destructive.”

Los Angeles-based therapist Dr. Nancy Irwin said there's nothing good about “hyping a soft-core porn movie to minors.”

“Glamorizing alternative sexual behaviors to teenagers is a slippery slope. Parents who allow their teens to see this movie are giving their kids tacit permission to explore this behavior on their own spring breaks,” she said. “Further, there are apparently sexist undertones in the girls’ ‘quid pro quo’ with Franco’s character. Is this what you want your sons and daughter to model?”

Benson did not talk about the bedroom tryst for the magazine's cover story, instead discussing her desire to follow in the career footsteps of Natalie Portman, Justin Bieber being unhappy with her “Boyfriend” parody, and her and her co-stars'days as a Disney darling.

“We all came from a Disney background, and this was different from anything we’ve done. But we wanted to prove that we’re not just girls who play happy parts,” she told Seventeen. “It was such a crazy experience and it was character-building. I’m so proud of all of us. I’m really, really excited for everybody to see it (‘Spring Breakers).’”

Nicole Weider launched a petition with the support of Victoria Hearst to bag racy Hearst publication Cosmopolitan and founded the Christian girls’ website Project Inspired. She notes that the Ashley Benson cover, in which she dons American flag short shorts and a big smile, is not problematic, but says the film she is hawking is another story.

“It’s not as racy as many other Seventeen and Cosmo covers. However, it appears that in her upcoming movie ‘Spring Breakers,’ is inappropriate for teen girls,” Weider said.

Other experts say teens and tweens need of strong, positive stars to look up to.

“While Ashley Benson may be a lovely young woman and a great actress, her comments about filming a threesome, without even one cautionary comment about the activity itself, add to the skewed and confusing portrayal the media puts out about sexual relationships,” said parenting expert Loni Coombs, author of “‘You’re Perfect…’ And Other Lies Parents Tell.” “As a fan of Seventeen magazine and a parent, I expect more of a magazine that holds itself out as an inspiration to young women.”

But not everyone in the industry deems Benson's movie disturbing.

"Threesomes are becoming as American as apple pie to mainstream youth. Seventeen is a publication that takes their editorial cues from market research about what is interesting to teens," added pop culture expert Jenn Hoffman. "Hearst is not to blame. They are merely forcing us to take an honest look at our youth culture and what they want to buy."

Reps for the magazine and Benson did not respond to a request for comment.

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