A couple of weeks ago, an unmarried and childless friend of mine came to me for some advice. She was scrolling through her news feed when she came across a bunch of pictures of her friend’s children. The kids, a boy and a girl were in the bath. Naked. I said it wasn’t a big deal. Naked baby pictures are a fact of life.
Then she told me the girl was four. The pictures weren’t of a sexual nature, just kids in a bath doing kids in a bath stuff, but it begs the question- how old is too old to be naked? My friend’s concern wasn’t that her friend was some kind of deviant, she was concerned that a pedophile or other such creep would keep the photos for evil purposes. She also brought up the fact that such pictures could fall under child pornography laws. I’m not sure that posting non-sexual naked pictures of your own children would get you in trouble with pedophilia laws, but I have no idea.
My friend asked me what to do. Should she talk to this mother about her concerns or let it go? I gave her an honest answer which is “I don’t know.” The best thing I could do is go over the possible courses of action with her. She could talk to the mother, but that can be touchy. I for one don’t take parenting advice from non-parents very well, so this mom might not either.
Without having seen the photos I can’t really say how “offensive” they looked, but if they were just straight cute bath pictures, confronting a mom about it might come off as prudish. That being said, the mother might appreciate the concern that photos of her naked children could be used for nefarious purposes. Another option is to just do/say nothing. A third option would be to report the photos on Facebook and flag them for being inappropriate which often results in the pictures being removed. This happens (wrongly in my opinion) a lot when women post pictures of themselves breastfeeding, and chances are with naked children photos. It’s sneaky but it could be a way to get concern across without having to reveal that you’re the one with the bathing child aversion.
People post pictures of their kids on Facebook- perhaps too much. I’m definitely guilty of this. Whenever Adi does something cute I snap a picture and upload it almost immediately. It’s so easy to do it from a smart phone, I don’t even have to look down at my phone to do it. It’s all thumbs and muscle memory.
When do you stop posting naked kid pictures? I’ve never published anything full frontal. Some cute butt shots here and there when Adi was an infant, but I stopped posting anything naked when Adi was around two years old. Why? I don’t know why. I suppose it’s a modesty thing. Adi runs around naked a lot in the house and I do have pictures with her in various degrees of nekkidtude but I won’t ever post them. My mother used to have a picture of me and my brother in the bath on her desk (I was 5 my brother was 1) at work and she told me that someone was offended. My mother thought that person was prudish- but that was before the days of internet and internet criminality.
I told my friend to sleep on it, and if it still bothered her in the morning to do something. Nudity is complicated, especially in these stubbornly puritanical United States. There are creeps out there. There are prudes out there.
There are also tons of cute clothed kid pictures to post instead naked ones.
So why don’t we just stick to that.
Rachel Figueroa-Levin is a soapmaker, cofounder and educator at Urban Babywearing, a hyperlocal Inwood blogger and organizer, a political/life/religion/parenting satirist, and all around trouble maker. She is also the creator of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Spanish-speaking alter ego @elbloombito. You can reach her via twitter @Jewyorican.