Dear Mouthy Housewives,
My 13-year-old son has an Instagram account that I check regularly to make sure he's not posting anything too private. He's been doing well, however I've noticed that quite a few 7th grade girls he follows -- neighborhood girls -- are posting very inappropriate pictures of themselves in bikinis or small shorts.
I don't want to get into a whole "Mrs. Hall" controversy like that woman did a few months ago with her blog post, but I think I should say something to the mothers of these girls. I don't know them all super well (the mothers), but I think it's something I'd want to find out if it were my kid. Advice?
Credit Image: Danielle Scott on Flickr
Once again, I thank the heavens above that there was no Instagram/Facebook/Kik crap around when I was in middle school, because those years were tough enough without worrying about how many Likes my new perm selfie got. I definitely don't envy today's 7th graders. Yikes.
I also have a son with an Instagram account, so unfortunately I know the types of pictures you're talking about. There are a number of girls who only post pics of themselves in various poses. "Here I am in the backyard with duck face! Here I am in the front yard with duck face! Here I am in a duck pond ... with duck face ... wait, too confusing. Here I am in the garage with duck face!" It's all I can do to not leave a comment saying, "For the love of God, point the camera at the sky! Just once! It's not all about you!"
But I don't do that. And here's why: they're not my daughters.
It's a natural instinct when you're a mom and a woman to protect younger girls. To give them the "you're more than your looks" talk. I totally get that. But this is a sticky situation, and you should tread carefully. Your good intentions in talking to the mothers can come across as putting-your-nose-where-it-doesn't-belong sanctimony. Maybe not to all of them, but definitely to some. "Don't you think I know what my daughter is doing online?" they'll huff, then glare at you for the next five years whenever you see them at school.
However, if you feel like that's a risk you're willing to take, and you think saying something will make a difference, go for it. Just know that your standards of what's appropriate are not always in line with what other families think.
I'd advise you to talk to your son about the girls' pictures, if you feel like he could benefit from it. Maybe say something like, "Why do you think they only take selfies?" and see what he thinks. It's a great opportunity to talk about image, self-confidence and what he can expect from future relationships with the girls in his class. Good luck.
Yours in duckface,
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