So the other day there was this post on Jezebel about this photograph of Kate Moss and her daughter that had been photoshopped in the weird way that magazine photos usually get photoshopped, and although it wasn’t a particularly interesting post – I like their ‘Photoshop Of Horrors’ posts, generally, but more to gawk at than to, you know, think about – the comments were very interesting, because the commenters, many of them, thought that the photo in question was a uniquely disturbing photo. Because Kate and her daughter were embracing. TOPLESS. THE HORROR.
“Why does the eight year old appear to be topless?” demanded one commenter. “Why is she hugging her topless mother?” This commenter, I’m guessing, doesn’t have children.
I certainly don’t hang around my house topless, randomly embracing my children, but that’s mostly because I hate being topless – I even sleep in a bra, so discomfited am I by unleashed chest puppies – and not because I think there’s anything weird about my children seeing me topless. Or hugging me topless. They’re young children, but they have a long history with my boobs. They have been nourished by my boobs. My boobs are practically their boobs. They’ve certainly had their hands on them enough that if you go by the principle that possession is nine-tenths of the law, they have a pretty compelling legal property claim to my boobs. So, yeah. If someone said to me that they’d love to shoot a portrait of Emilia and I in the posture of Kate Moss and her daughter, my first thought would not be, oh, dear, should my daughter, who has suckled on and been nourished by these, not be in such close proximity to them? That wouldn’t even be my second, third, or eleventeenth thought. I would mostly be thinking, will she cover them adequately? WILL SHE BLOCK THE VIEW OF ANY SAGGING? If she blocks the boob-view, then, hell, why not?
I think that the portrait of Kate and her daughter is beautiful (if, of course, you overlook the bizarrely photoshopped hands). I think that it articulates something of the beautiful, physical relationship between mothers and their children, of the love that is so movingly tactile. (Who has not buried their face in their toddler’s chubby neck folds and just wanted to inhale and possibly even chew?) (I’ve not shared with you my theories about baby chomping, and the implication of the undeniably SCIENCE of baby chompability for certain trendy vampire narratives in popular culture, have I? Probably for the best.) It’s lovely. I would love that kind of portrait of myself with my daughter and son.
And I think that it’s sad that some people – some women – would look askance at that. Sad for them. Sad for their future children.
(Unless they’re vampires. Then I think that it’s best that they remain troubled by it and avoid it at all costs. Better for the children, anyway.)