Parents need to start minding their own business.
I saw it on my Facebook newsfeed. It was big and bold. "Mommy Blogger's Instagram Deleted for Daughters 'Nude' Photos." I read it, and immediately thought, "well, that makes sense." As a parenting expert and writer, I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of parents who "overshare" photos of their little ones online. It makes me cringe when I see naked or half-naked kids on the walls of doting parents who seem to have no idea about the level of "unfriendly" visitors those pages receive. And those are just regular blogs; I can only imagine how many ill-intentioned views a picture of a nude little girl would get on a popular website. From the headline, this was clearly a case of the punishment fitting the crime.
Then I read the article.
What I found was nothing close to the obscene nudes that I imagined would get a popular blogger's entire site banned. Courtney Adamo, the blogger behind the popular site, Babyccino Kids, posted an adorable picture of her fully dressed toddler daughter in knee high yellow rain boots proudly examining her belly button on her puffed out belly. It was hardly the stuff that would offend even the most modest of adults. However, Instagram received so many complaints that they deleted the photo and her account.
In truth, I was actually kind of pissed that this photo was even an issue, let alone newsworthy. As a professional who deals with at-risk kids and parents without boundaries, this is exactly the kind of nonsensical claim that muddies the waters of pornography and sends well-meaning, loving parents scrambling for a place where they can raise their kids out of the view of the eyes of the overzealous parent nation.
I have seen pictures of children that have made me want to write to parents, if for no other reason than to warn them about child's safety and dignity should that photo ever pop up during their very fragile adolescent years. But to call a toddler "belly shot" as nude? That's a ridiculous stretch. I've honestly seen more toddler skin at the beach or in line at Disneyworld. What little kiddo hasn't examined their belly button during the preschool recital or twirled with their dress over their head, if for no other reason than because it's hot outside and they're two years old!?
Is it a gender problem?
I discussed the article with parents, and many noted that the uproar was more about it being a little girl than it being a belly. I hear that... and I call bullsh*t. What if this were a little boy's belly? We've all seen pictures of naked little boys in bathtubs, in mud puddles, and peeing on the side of the road on a long family road trip. Are these pictures seen as "nude" or "inappropriate"?
No, and they receive much less negative attention than little girls in the same scenarios. From my perspective, this serves as a prime example of society's perverse obsession with the female form and the paranoia that every man online is there to stalk and kidnap our daughters.
Indeed, I think the problem may lie more with us as viewers of these images than with the people who post them. In reviewing the comment thread, I noticed that the people who turned her in were doing it more out of hate for her beliefs and her popularity as a blogger than the false nudity of her little girl. I wonder if those same busybodies who were throwing around false accusations of child pornography were too busy to look in the mirror to see what they actually embody: Bullies with a mob mentality.
And it is precisely because of that that we need to be aware of what photos we do post online of ourselves and of our kids. As a professional, I believe it is in every parent's best interest to post as few pics as possible of their children on their sites — even fully clothed. When advising parents about those "cute little naked behind pics," I use this logic: If you wouldn't allow your child to have their own Facebook page where they posted naked selfies, then you shouldn't post those pictures on their behalf. The internet is a photo album that lasts for ever, and pictures like that can be very damaging to adolescents and even young adults who could discover them at inopportune moments in their life.
Courtney Adamo's photo is not one that her child would be ashamed of and my feeling is that she was unreasonably punished for a crime she didn't even come close to committing. When we are willing to impose our views and what we consider to be "proper parenting" on others — even to the point where we are deleting their Instagram accounts — we are on a very slippery slope.
My bottom line is this: unless something is actually dangerous, or hurting someone, mind your damned beeswax.