Posting pictures online: Is this snap cute or provocative?
Jessica Simpson has come under fire for posting a picture to Instagram of her toddler daughter "striking a pose" in her swimming togs.
So what is wrong with this picture?
It's a question that has kind of stumped me to be honest.
On the other hand, online commenters were pretty quick off the mark:
“Way to go, Jessica. Start sexualizing (sic) your daughter early!!! She has her mother’s legs.”
“The hand on the hip pose is disturbing, it is posed, and sickos like that kind of stuff.”
“I guess people don’t realize (sic) how sickos get off looking at little girls when they pose provocatively.”
I have no problem with this picture. I think it's cute. I have seen plenty of pictures of myself in swimming togs mugging for the camera at the beach, the only difference being what my own mother chose to do with these pictures. They are at home in a photo album.
The idea that Jessica Simpson is consciously "sexualising" her child to me seems preposterous. The notions of women as pinups and men as muscle men are a lot older than social media. It doesn't mean we have to like these cultural constructs and it is up to parents to educate their children regarding how they express their gender. But fact is children are capable of absorbing these behaviours by osmosis without having been coached in anyway.
Some have argued that if this image was of a little boy in speedos flexing his arms in an imitation of a body builder it would not be garnering the same reaction. This does not ring true to me. I have a son, not a daughter, and I think I have the same anxieties about exposing images of him online. I have the same fears about his vulnerability as I would if he were a girl.
Fundamentally I don't see anything wrong with this image. I think it's cute. And totally innocent. However I am unsettled by the fact that I can see this picture at all. And not only that, I can legitimately reproduce it here on another website by embedding the Instagram post.
According to a recent study by Nominet for their online campaign KnowTheNet, on average parents post about 200 photos of their children online every year though more than half of parents surveyed had only checked the privacy settings on their social media accounts once or twice and 17 per cent had not checked at all.
More and more, parents are learning the reach of social media the hard way. Earlier this month a mother in Utah discovered her pictures had been hacked. She was devastated to discover that, despite her Facebook settings being set to ensure that only friends could see her pictures, images of her children had been stolen and reposted to other sites.
“I seriously feel like the worst mom having have put these on there and seeing what happened,” she told KUTV news. “I didn’t feel that posting family photos could turn into something like that.”
Brittany Champagne was browsing Instagram when she saw a picture of her 8-year-old daughter on somebody else's account claiming that she was an 11-year-old bisexual cheerleader. If that wasn't disturbing enough, an anonymous user had hash-tagged porn sites on to the children's photos linking them to extremely graphic material. According to Champagne the images have been connected to at least 11 porn sites that she has found so far.
“I can't imagine how my kids would feel,” said Champagne. “I feel beyond violated, so I don't even know what they would feel.”
Even worse is the fact that currently police in Utah cannot bring charges as it appears no actual crime has been committed according to current laws in the state.
It is a disturbing story that could potentially become all too commonplace in years to come.
What's your stance on posting family snaps online?