I have written this blog post 3 times since March, and it is now the end of July. My heart wasn't feeling right. It wasn't until late last night that I had a breakthrough and realized what I was feeling was embarrassment and shame about my actions as a parent, and that is actually a really good story to share.
The first 3 drafts of my post were about how upset I was with Instagram and American society telling me that a picture I posted of my daughter in March was inappropriate. I went on and on about women's body issues, what's appropriate for boys verse girls, when does a baby need to cover her breasts, and you get the picture. All of these are relevant issues, but aren't the source of my story. Here's a little background:
I went on vacation with my family to southwest Texas for spring break in March and took a photo of my one year old daughter in her swim bottoms and posted it on Instagram and hashtagged #thatbelly and left some cute comment about how she was loving her first time in a pool.
The next day I got a message from Instagram saying that the photo had been removed due to its content and to referred me to the community guidelines page. She did not have her top on in the photo.
The community guidelines page says, "While we know that families use Instagram to capture and share photos of their children, we may remove images that show nude or partially nude children for safety reasons. Even when these images are uploaded with the best of intentions, this content could be re-shared and used by other people in unanticipated and inappropriate ways. You can learn more on our Tips for Parents page."
Wait, what?! I had the best intentions. I captured a moment with my daughter being super cute, and wanted to share it with friends. I was so embarrassed!!
Here were my reactions between March and last night:
1. Mortified: what have I done!?
2. Embarrassed: it never crossed my mind that this was inappropriate, am I a bad parent?
3. Ashamed: I feel terrible that I put my daughter's breasts out their for all the weirdos of the world.
4. Lash out: it's them, not me!
6. Yesterday afternoon: share my story with my husband who calmly says, "If that is the issue you want to get behind, that's your choice, and I support you either way." (bless that man).
7. Realization: it's not the fact IG took down my photo, or that women can't go bare breasted when and where they want, it's the fact that I was going to say those things because I was embarrassed and I was going to cover that up with all the hoopla.
8. Realize this is an opportunity for me to grow as a parent and admit it's ok to make a mistake.
9. Be gracious that it is ok to share good and bad choices we make with the Forth community because we are all just doing our best.
If you are interested in the hoopla that I was going to rant about, here is the outline, I included this because growing a positive self-image is so important and social media plays a big role in how girls develop their self-worth. Let's all do our best to help little 1-year olds, parents and adults feel good about themselves and their bodies however these choose to share it.
And last but not least: Thank you Instagram for giving me the opportunity to have a personal break through.
My daughter isn't the first female to be flagged as inappropriate by Instagram. Rihanna's first Instagram account was disabled after posting one too many photos of her bare breasted. THEN she showed up in this number, which on the outside seemed harmless, once photographed what could you see? Lo and behold--she has nipples! She didn't have to post bare-breasted photos of herself, everyone else did it for her. Marketing genius that one.
What about young boys who are poolside? What age is it inappropriate for my little girl to go topless? My first thought is that it is not: she is a baby, she has a body just like the rest of us, who cares?
I think American society should give girls a little slack when it comes to their bodies. Telling a little girl that she is inappropriate to other's eyes because she doesn't have a top on is the first step towards making her feel self-conscious about her body and that is very disappointing.
Thank you Julie for sharing Scout Willis' experience with Instagram, and how her account was deleted for showing her nipples. Scout is the daughter of Demi and Bruce Willis.
Let's take a step back in history and see these are from GoTopless.org
As a pop culture junkie I have been following local Oak Park'er Tavi Gevinson, a 20-something authentically driven woman who created Rookie, a magazine for teenaged girls. Her friend, photographer and artist, Petra Collins has been at odds with Instagram for a few years now and I have loved watching her growth. Her account was deleted because she posted a picture--of her in a bikini bottom with, gasp, her pubic hair showing. Here is her article Censorship and the Female Body that was seen on the Huffington Post.
I'd love to hear your thoughts or experiences about when you, or a sister, daughter, mother or friend, has ever been made to feel inappropriate because of what you were or were not wearing. Then, let's focus on how we can make our daughters, mothers, sisters and friends feel confident and rocking about their bodies and their style.
Be bright, Lisa