Former Biggest Loser host and wellness personality, Ajay Rochester, has found herself defending her Instagram photos, with one sparking debate among her followers about whether or not it was appropriate.
The photo in question sees Rochester reclining on a leopard-print couch, in what looks like white stockings, suspenders and a white bodice. Not all that worrying, really. She looks happy and relaxed and comfortable in her own skin.
But it was the caption of the photo that sparked a reaction from her followers: “Massive shout out to @yandydotcom for the sexy corset, to @dazanahair for the luscious clip in hair extensions and to my incredible 15 year old son and budding photographer for taking this picture and his first official professional photo shoot.”
Then all of a sudden the image doesn’t just look like a carefree woman, happy with her body; it becomes sexualised and inappropriate, knowing that the male gaze is, in this instance, created by her own son, who has Asperger’s, a disorder on the autism spectrum that is characterised by difficulties with communication and social interaction.
“So creepy that you pose in lingerie for your son to take photos. The words ‘sexy’ and ’15 year old son’ should not be in the same sentence together,” one person commented on Rochester’s image.
“Yeah, don’t be calling your look and photo shoot ‘sexy’ then go ahead and say your 15 year old son took the photos. #sowrong,” said another.
Tony Attwood, one of the world’s leading Asperger’s syndrome specialists, says the outside world can often look at the relationships of parents and children with Asperger’s as unorthodox or as not confirming to societal norms.
People might assume that “you’re not a competent mother because you haven’t changed the children’s clothing for two days, but they’ve had such fun with finger painting,” Attwood gives as an example during his chat with ABC’s Richard Fidler.
“There’s often a sense of different priorities that other people will say that you’re not doing what is conventional, but those with Asperger’s have never been conventional.”
So who’s to say that Rochester’s photo session with her 15-year-old son wasn’t the result of a playful moment of interaction together that seldom occurs because of his different communication abilities? Who’s to say that this photo is inappropriate, just because we see a woman in lingerie and not a mother interacting with her alternatively abled son?
Surprised by the backlash, Rochester has posted a response on her blog, entitled “You Can’t Body Shame Me”, in response to the negative feedback she’s received, saying there’s nothing wrong with having her son take the photo.
“My son, who is nearly 16, wants to be a professional photographer,” Rochester reveals in the post. “We snapped that shot in a fun moment after having shot me in wedding dresses and my friend in a bikini all day long.”
Before we go attacking a woman and her relationship with her son, perhaps we can attempt to understand that not all social interactions, like Attwood says, fall into the realm of what society deems normal. And instead of seeing a woman in lingerie, let’s remember that this was a happy moment with one woman and her son.
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