So there is a photo of a kid in a bikini posing by a pool with a hand on her hip and another hand dangling behind her head that is being scrutinized on social media at the moment.
It’s polarised opinions with some viewing it as a sweet little snap of a delightful child, but others, whose minds bend a different way, see it as provocative, sexualised and dangerous.
The photo of the little girl in her leopard pink frilly bikini smiling sweetly as she poses by the pool – in the kind of outfit my own five-year-old daughter would give up all her My Little Ponies for, if only I’d let her wear it – has had hundreds of comments.
Posted by Teen Mom Farrah Abraham, it is being used to promote her new show, Teen Mom OG, that is about to premiere in the US. As you can imagine the 25-year-old reality TV personality has been widely panned for this latest image of her seven-year-old daughter, Sophia.
A photo posted by Farrah Abraham (@farrah__abraham) on Jul 27, 2016 at 1:13pm PDT
It’s the usual kind of publicity stunt that we’ve come to expect from a reality TV star who trades on the fact she was a teen mother and a porn star. It’s timed perfectly to generate as much publicity as possible right before her new series begins.
If you feel like you’ve heard this story before it’s because you probably have. Earlier this month Farrah Abraham raised eyebrows when she got called into the school principal’s office for letting her daughter wear makeup to school.
“You know when your kids are like five or six years old and they start playing with makeup and I was the only mother in freakin’ elementary school getting called in about makeup on her daughter,” she told the Allegedly podcast.
And she was also criticised for a similarly ‘sexual’ pic of her daughter posing underwater in a bikini with a full face of makeup and at other times for ‘sexy’ images of her young daughter posing, preening and being either a kid copying her mum or a manipulated puppet depending on the commentary.
It’s her trademark right?
The ‘bad’ mum. The ‘let-my-daughter-be-who-she-wants-to-be-and-stop-judging-me’ card. It’s her marketing spin. The hot-mum, cute-daughter, bikinis and sex.
Lots of sex everywhere.
A photo posted by Farrah Abraham (@farrah__abraham) on Jun 16, 2016 at 11:35am PDT
But we are all meant to be okay about that aren’t we, because we don’t judge other mothers anymore right?
And yes, many, many commentators have taken that exact stance.
One, Hollee Actman Becker writes for Parenting.com, “Each mom to her own. I’ve got my own kids to worry about, so you just keep doing, you, Farrah!”
Another, Zeiko Zoll writes for Romper, “I refuse to take a stance one way or the other about the content of Abraham’s Instagram photo of her daughter, because it’s her right as a parent to post that photo — internet haters be damned. And truthfully, it’s really none of my business — nor is it my place to judge someone’s parenting ability on a single photo alone.”
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Look, the fact is that if you looked at that one image of Sophia in her leopard print bikini these writers are correct – it isn’t sexual.
If you looked at that one image of Sophia and saw it as sexual then yes, you would be the one twisting it into something it’s not. If you looked at that one image of cute little Sophia and saw exploitation and sexualisation you’d be overreacting.
But the thing with Farrah Abraham is that there isn’t just one image of Sophia being a sweet little seven-year-old in her bathers by the pool. There are hundreds, all juxtaposed with perfectly posed images of Farrah herself in bikinis, all perfectly juxtaposed with photos of Farrah that ARE sexualized, and it’s hard to see where she expects us to draw the line.
As our world becomes engulfed in social media the debate about the responsibility of parents in shielding their children’s privacy intensifies.
Just yesterday author Tara Moss wrote a compelling blog post on the lengths she goes to in order to protect her daughter’s privacy, including never showing her five-year-old’s face on her public social media pages.
It’s hard not to compare that practice to that of Farrah Abraham.
As a parent, part of our responsibly is to be an advocate and a voice for our children when they don’t have one, to make decisions for them when they don’t have the maturity to do so, to ensure they aren’t exploited and manipulated before they can control their own image.
While I’m sure Farrah Abraham loves her daughter and only wants the best for her, you have to wonder if, in the twisted world of reality TV and spin that she lives in, her version of what’s best and the version the rest of us mere mortals run with are similar at all.
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