You don’t need to tell breastfeeding moms how jacked up social media is when it comes to nudity. We’ve long been aware of our photos being removed and labeled “inappropriate” — mainly on Instagram. And guess what? The social media platform is at it again, just not for a breastfeeding photo. This time, it’s potty training they take issue with.
Jessie James Decker, a pop-country singer and mother of an almost one-year-old daughter, recently posted a photo of her daughter and a friend learning to potty on a little, plastic toilet trainer. As you can see, the photo clearly doesn’t show any nudity, just an adorable toddler learning to use the potty. As Decker tells it, Instagram removed the photo. Decker, 26, and expecting her second child, is understandably outraged.
“Apparently someone complained about the adorable pic of Vivi and Everly going potty,” she wrote of the image, which was removed for violating Instagram’s community guidelines. “Unbelievable someone had a sick mind to complain it was inappropriate. Guess that ends me posting pics of my child for a while.”
After that, Decker decided to repost a nude photo of selfie queen, Kim Kardashian (where in she is seen laying naked face-down on a bed) to see if Instagram would delete that photo for violating community guidelines. “Soooo this is appropriate but my daughter going potty on her potty with nothing showing is flagged as inappropriate??? Wow instagram. Wow,” she captioned the photo.
After Instagram didn’t delete the Kim photo, Decker took to Instagram to post the photo of her daughter again the next day and guess what:
Decker beautifully highlights not only what moms have faced with the sexification of breastfeeding, but the bizarre nature of social media guidelines when it comes to nudity. Sexy nudity is approved nudity, but naked bodies performing biological functions is a violation? It’s worth noting neither child is completely naked in the photo; children in diapers or swimming suits showcase more “nudity” than the little girl in Decker’s photos. It’s a sad sign of our times when adorable children behaving naturally — without showing nudity — is wrong, but a naked woman’s backside is okay. (Personally, I don’t mind the naked ass, either.) Same thing with breastfeeding. Sexy boobs fine, breastfeeding boobs inappropriate. Babies and children should never, ever be considered sexual objects and by taking down photos of them behaving as children is implying otherwise.
After Instagram took down the photo for a second time, Decker gave up and decided to tweet out the photo instead. It has since garnered nearly 7,000 likes and almost 500 retweets on Twitter. After that happened and the Decker Instagram hullaballo made national headlines, it appears Instagram decided to allow the potty-training photo after all. It now has 156k likes and comments of support like, “You should be proud of your daughter and the moments you share with her! I love seeing all your posts on IG. You are a down to earth family unlike Kim k who puts her daughter in fur coats and thinks that’s okay for an infant! Don’t ever stop fighting for what you believe in!!”
While Decker scored a win over Instagram there are scores of moms, as usual, waving a judgmental finger of disapproval over Decker’s decision to post the photo of her daughter in the first place. Perhaps you don’t agree with a mom posting a photo of her child on the potty but that’s Jessie James Decker’s choice as mom, not yours. Some moms (like myself and Decker) look at social media as an opportunity to share sweet moments of their children with others, and other’s don’t. But either way, it’s a personal judgement call. If you’re horrified by a harmless photo of a child learning to potty train, that’s your opinion (and your problem).
And before you drag out the whole Internet predator argument, remember that predators could potentially lurk everywhere. (Including a swimming pool where your child would be showcasing more skin than appears in Decker’s photo.) You can’t control everything. But you can, as I have, choose not to buy into the ever-growing moral panic about sexual predators lurking everywhere. As Medium, notes in How We Were Fooled Into Thinking That Sexual Predators Lurk Everywhere, “A moral panic takes hold when the public comes to believe that a cultural artifact, practice, or population threatens the social order. Moral panics that surround youth typically center on issues of sexuality, delinquency, and reduced competency. New genres of media — and the content that’s shared through them — often trigger such anxieties.”
The bottom line for me is this is a matter of using common sense before sharing. A photo of my child standing in front of her elementary school with the name of the school clearly in the photo? NO. But a child on a potty? Adorable and 100% acceptable — FOR ME. If you disagree or are afraid some old man in Nebraska will use a photo of your child inappropriately, don’t post any photos. As for me, just as I choose to take my child to a swimming pool regardless of who may be lurking, I choose to post photos of my children living their lives regardless of who is online. Certainly as my kids grow and find their own places in life, the photos I post will reflect their wishes. But remember, all of these kids are growing up among a generation of children featured on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. While posting photos online wasn’t a part of our world, it is very much a part of theirs. Use your brain when you post and as your children age, check in with them about what they find comfortable. In the meantime, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram would do well to figure out a system that doesn’t objectify children while approving inappropriate nudity.
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