Where I end and where she begins
It seems like a week doesn’t pass without a controversy among Internet Moms. This week’s controversy is an ad for a $1,000 stroller in which a Dutch model is pictured running with her 2-year-old in said $1,000 stroller. Oh, and she’s running in a bikini.
Internet Moms are outraged because she’s not encouraging positive body image, as opposed to all other luxury product ads, I guess, which definitely do depict average-looking people doing everyday things and definitely do not depict Photoshopped celebrities standing near their private planes with bespoke leather handbags.
This controversy is boring.What I thought was more interesting is that no one’s discussing how her child’s face isn’t shown in the ad.
Today, photographing children and posting them on Facebook is default behavior. Writing at length about them is, as well. We assume default public when it comes to kids.
And when I had my baby, I wanted to do all of that. I wanted to post pictures of her in those hospitals swaddles, like everyone else does, talk about how much she weighs and what milestones she’s achieving, like everyone else does, and generally share what I think is the best part of my life with my social circle, like everyone else does. Because, I think, as people, we are hardwired to share our experiences and receive feedback from the community, which is why Facebook, despite the fact that it’s completely terrible, is so successful. We want to know we’re not alone, and we want to share positive things in our lives, including our children.
We want to kvell. But there’s a fine line between kvelling and, pretty much 80% of the content on, say, the eponymous Kveller.com, which started out as a very nice Jewish parenting site and now has pivoted to specializing in posting very detailed personal parenting experiences wrapped with inflammatory headlines for pageclicks. When does kvelling about your child turn into exploiting them for Kveller, or Facebook for that matter?
Is posting pictures of them trying to walk ok? How about pictures of them naked in the bathtub? Or eating? How about details about them like height and weight? How about Instagrams of your kid throwing up? Or blogging about their health problems? (Both exist, but I didn’t want to link to either.) There is obviously a fine line between posting cute pics of your baby turning a year old and posting Instagrams of them bawling that end up on Buzzfeed. Whoever crosses the line usually ends up on STFUParents. But where is that line between innocence and the need for self-validation? Between making sure our kids are loved or end up haunted by their online past?
I don’t know, which is why I don’t trust myself to post any pictures of my baby on Facebook or expose too much detail about her in my status updates. I do have a private password-protected blog with pictures and updates for friends and family, and I still try not to post anything too personal about her there, lest it end up on the bigger web later. A Jewish magazine wanted to publish my last post about her name and how I think her Jewish identity would be, and I’m still waffling on accepting because it’s right on the border line of where I think my right to talk about her for my own personal need for validation and intellectual exploration ends and her right to privacy begins.
I also don’t want my baby’s photos in a database used for selling products. There is exactly one picture of her floating out there on Facebook and that’s because we weren’t paying attention when someone asked if we could post it. Finally, what’s probably scariest or most unknown to me, is that this is only the first group of kids growing up with all documentation all the time, and we have no idea how they will end up as adults.
All of this is to say, I’d really like to have more public discussion about Bugaboo’s decision to cover up the daughter’s face. I am an overthinker. I am also more privacy-oriented than most, so I’d really like to know whose decision it was to cover up the daughter’s face. Are my reactions to these kinds of issues normal? Will our kids not be impacted by having their lives on line because everyone else’s will be, as well? Do others think about these same kinds of things? Who owns the rights to our children’s life story? That’s the real story here, and I’m sad there’s not more discussion about it.