Would you put your naked toddler in a magazine? (08/03/2013)

The photo that spurred it

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume you’ve seen Marie Claire’s ‘Naked’ issue. If you haven’t, click here. Seriously. Go and look. Then, come back.

The specific picture I’m concerned with is the one titled ‘MOTHER & CHILD’. It’s a lovely image, featuring beautiful Lee-Ann Liebenberg and her two-year-old, Gia.

If I’m honest, I’ll admit that the first time I saw the photo shoot, I was concerned more with examining the gorgeous adult bodies featured and wishing I had one, than with considering ethics and morals. It never occurred to me to think twice about Gia.

The chat that started it

After a chat with a long-term client – who, incidentally, is a single woman with no children – I realised that allowing your nude (if strategically positioned) child to appear in a magazine, and therefore on the internet, is possibly a poor parenting decision. Whether it’s for a brilliant cause like organ donation, or for no cause at all.

From what I understand, Lee-Ann herself has built a great career using her face and body, so she may be more indifferent to public semi-nudity than the rest of us. And that’s fine. For her. But there are some serious freaks out there, and while I’m not one of those mommies who stops my toddler running naked on a beach in case there are perverts watching, I would never expose her in a magazine or online.

The defenses behind it

I’ve asked my husband for his take, and (surprisingly) he doesn’t understand my position. Thinks I’m being over-sensitive. I felt all self-righteous about this until I realised that there’s a whole album on my Facebook profile featuring my little one, dressed only in a nappy, covering herself in paint. There are others from when she was even smaller, running on the beach. I triple-checked my privacy settings for photos and yes, they’re stringent. So I guess that’s my defense. But where’s the line?

The platforms for it

We share our kids and their lives every day – via blogging, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other channels. And in many cases we have no idea who’s watching. All I can say is: be careful. I once sat next to a mommy blogger at a function and was profoundly disturbed when she told me that her Google Analytics report had shown some deviant finding her blog in a web search for the term ‘nude child’.

For me, this is all about the choice of platform. When you combine a magazine (and therefore the internet) with a world descending ever faster into madness and child abuse, and you ask me to pose publicly with my naked daughter, I’ll refuse outright. I’ll do it myself, sure, if I have the body. And there my contribution will end.

Your own take on it?

Moms, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Am I being silly? What would you do? Email me.

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