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Abigail Breslin poses topless at 17: Is that too young?

Abigail Breslin catapulted into the hearts of American audiences when she was barely six years old in “Signs.” That was 11 years ago, and it seems she wants the world to understand that she's not six anymore by posing in a provocative topless photo shoot with “Final Girl” director and controversial Hollywood photographer Tyler Shields.

In one photograph, the 17-year-old Oscar-nominated star is topless wrapped in a sheet, her eyes smudged by thick black eyeliner, a red lollipop hanging seductively between her lips and she stares sultrily into the camera. In another, she is mostly submerged in a bubble bath.

“It is concerning that she is only 17. We now live in a world where girls are sexualized at younger and younger ages,” Harvard sociologist Dr. Hilary Levey Friedman, told FOX411. “It is sadly expected that today’s female child stars will do something like this to show their maturity and womanhood.”

But Shields says the Breslin images are all in the name of art.

"Art is about interpretation so I'm sure there are people who think this is to much but she's an actress if this was for a movie those people would praise her for being bold," he told FOX411.

Shields also went on to tell E! News that Breslin is "the perfect subject for something like this" and that there is "fun" in "showing someone to the world for the first time.”

Shields is known for his risqué approach to taking photos. From photographing Lindsay Lohan with bloodied swords and guns, straddling seemingly dead bodies and having her breasts squeezed, to Ashley Green being tied down to train tracks with an approaching vehicle in the background, not to mention a vast array of other sexually violent, explicit and provocative editorials starring a range of famous faces and models.

And Breslin is hardly alone in opting to bare a little body as she gets older. Just last week, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” star Kendall Jenner celebrated turning 18 with a raunchy breast-exposing photo shoot, while Dakota Fanning took part in a daring Marc Jacobs perfume campaign with the bottle poised between her legs when she too was only 17. It was deemed so inappropriate that the ad was banned by Britain’s media watchdog.  Then of course, there is Miley Cyrus, who posed bare backed in Vanity Fair when she was 15, and we all know what has happened there in recent years.

Some experts are concerned that this need to “grow up” with some sexy visuals for public consumption only seeks to drive young fans to follow suit, text inappropriate images of themselves and potentially get themselves into trouble.

“(This is) sexualizing a minor. There are registered sex offenders whose child pornography stash is less provocative than these images. While Abigail is exposing less than what a typical bikini model bares, her youth is being expolited exploiting with the lollipop accent. The public is being seduced by an under-aged girl,” said Los Angeles-based therapist, Dr. Nancy Irwin. “This tells young girls that it is okay; that this is what men want and that this is what a female’s worth is based on.”

Others had no issues with the photos.

“There’s nothing shocking about these pictures.  The biggest problem is that we now expect photos like this in order to stay relevant,” argued Hollywood pop culture expert, Jenn Hoffman. “Unless she’s playing the fat friend or providing comic relief, there are few roles for ‘unattractive’ or plain women. Photo shoots like this will stop when we become more interested in seeing multi-dimensional females rather than media controlled sex objects.”

And Breslin has said that she didn’t make a “conscious decision to prove to the world that (she’s) grown up,” and it was more that she was eager to “try different things.” And unlike many young celebrities in the Hollywood scene, Breslin is one who does manage to lie low and stay out of the paparazzi flashlight.

“I just hang out with my family and friends; everyone in my life keeps me grounded. When I’m not filming I just go home and hang out with my friends, walk my dog and do normal stuff,” she told us a few weeks ago. “I don’t consider myself to be a role model… But I guess it is someone who is good person and helps people, and that’s an important thing.”

Reps for Breslin and Shields did not respond to a request for further comment.

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