Where Is the Line?

I'm sure we've all seen our share of images on the internet that we wish we wouldn't have. I have viewed countless overly-sexualized images of children that have left me sad. And so I was a bit confused when I read this article about how Instagram removed a photo from blogger mom, Courtney Adamo's account because it was deemed inappropriate. Surprised and somewhat annoyed, she read Instagram's guidelines, and could not see where she violated any policies. So Adomo reposted the picture of her 18-month-old girl pulling up her dress to get a better look at her bellybutton. Instagram reacted by shutting down her account, which has over 40,000 followers.

I've got to tell you, I don't know whether to be happy or sad about this. I unashamedly creep on my daughters' Instagram accounts. Besides all the duck faces that Instagram can't really do anything about, I have seen very disturbing pictures of young girls on Instagram, mostly selfies. I don't even want to be a good writer and go into detail here, because I don't want to create any unwanted images in the reader's mind. But there they are, floating around the internet for everyone to see. Instagram seems to be fine with that.

But this picture is apparently crossing the line.

Even so, I know there is a debate about how much a parent should publicize of their children. It's one thing to have the inappropriate selfies, but it's a whole other issue when the parent is over-sharing. While I have plenty of cute bathtub pictures of the kids when they were babies and toddlers, I think they are better left in my family scrapbook. And yet, social media is the new scrapbook. I understand why families share their photos online. I do it myself. It's easier! Let's face it, I don't know when I'm ever going to have the time to build that actual family scrapbook to which I was just referring. But once I post a photo online, any pervert can find a way to gain access.

All you have to do is take a look at your local police reports to know that many of those perverts are at the park getting an up-close view of your child in action. Is hanging upside-down on the monkey bars a sexually inappropriate activity? Should we just not ever go to the park, knowing how our children can be and very well may be viewed? Most of us do not take it that far, but we do need to be discerning all of the time.

On her Babyccino Kids blog, Adomo writes defensively that her picture of her daughter Marlow is in no way sexual. "She is a baby!" "I thought it was such a sweet photo of my baby girl and her gorgeous, round belly (and outie belly button). And I love that her pride is so evident in the photo - such a sweet and innocent shot of a successful day of potty-training." I agree. If this is a sexual picture, then we need to get all of the Coppertone suntan lotion bottles off of the shelves immediately! But I am happy to think that Instagram actually is discriminatory. I just wish it was with actual, sexualized pictures. 

Of course, technology hasn't only changed the way we share pictures; it's also transformed the way we protest. With the removal of her account, Adamo lost over four years of family photos. After her blog post lamenting about this perceived injustice, her supporters reacted with the almighty hashtag. I guess it is kind of difficult to organize a lock-in for an internet account. And let's face it, no one is going to remove their own Instagram accounts over this. But the power of flooded posts with the hashtags #BringBackCourtneyBabyccino and #savethebelly were affective to cajole Instagram into reinstating Adamo's account. What a strange world we live in now.

The article reports a spokesman for Instagram's response:

"We try hard to find a good balance between allowing people to express themselves creatively and having policies in place to protect young children.

"This is one reason why our guidelines put limitations on nudity, but we recognize that we don't always get it right. In this case, we made a mistake and have since restored the account."

I do respect that. Please, by all means Instagram, #keeppoliciestoprotectchildreninplace. I just wish it applied to the actual disturbing pictures. I'd be happy to sacrifice cute pictures of 18-month-olds if it meant cleaning up the pre-teens and teenagers that over-share.

The million dollar question is: Where is the line? This is one in which we should all wrestle with both firm convictions and grace.