Social media has changed the way parents share their photos, and that includes celebrities like Olivia Wilde. The actress recently shared a photo of her son Otis on Instagram that’s causing an uproar because of what the little boy is wearing.
Or rather, what he’s not wearing, which is clothing. The extremely chill-seeming celebrity posted a picture of her 1-year-old son’s little baby tuchus to Instagram yesterday, and since then, trolls have been coming out of the woodwork to tell her what a crappy mom she is for doing it. Gird yourselves, here’s the horrifying obscenity we’re talking about:
OK, so he’s not totally in the buff. He is wearing a big, floppy cowboy hat which, as most parents know, is prime baby picture fodder — when your child balks at the idea of wearing pants but doesn’t mind throwing on a completely random accessory, like a hat or purse or swim flippers. So Wilde, being like most parents, took the snap. Then, like many parents, she shared it online.
Then, unlike most parents, she was subject to a torrent of irate child-booty defenders who needed her to know that danger was waiting behind every computer screen — lascivious, pervy weirdos who troll Instagram feeds for toddler tush:
“this world we live in is f**** up as it is, because of monsters and sickos we can’t share innocence and beauty of life, change and growth in our kiddos with our family and friends, in your case your fans.”
“Why post nude pics of your child? So many psychos out there!”
“more people will ‘like’ that than you wish. Your naked child is nothing you upload in the world wide web where it stays forever.”
This is just a small sampling of people who are absolutely scandalized that Wilde would take a partially obscured picture of her baby’s buns on a cloudy day in what looks like Hawaii, because it just isn’t the Internet without a big, hearty helping of overblown moral panic.
It’s fine to be anti-naked baby pic. Lots of people are, for varying reasons, and they resolve this internal conflict by just not putting pictures of their children up online. You could reasonably make a child privacy argument as well: While most families have a treasured photo album complete with a classic candid bubble bath photo or two, those albums usually gather dust in a closet somewhere until someone pulls them out to mortify a now-grown child.
But this kind of pearl-clutching criticism is overblown. For good or for ill, the hard-copy photo album is dead, replaced by the Instagram feed. The only thing that hasn’t changed is that parents gonna parent: They will continue to take nude pics of their babies and share them probably until the end of the world is upon us.
Let’s call a spade a spade and cut through all the chiding comments to talk about what people are actually concerned about: that a stranger on the Internet might find a picture of your naked kid on the Internet and get off on it.
And you know what? That is disturbing. But if you really want to never sleep at night, consider this: Every time you, your kids or even your dog go out in public, your right to privacy is compromised. Someone, somewhere, could be lurking near the bath linens aisle at Target, the children’s section at the library or the gate at the dog park, just waiting for their “type” to walk by so they have something to fantasize about later. It’s best not to even think about your local public pool, where it’s almost universally legal for any weird rando to take pictures of your bikini-clad toddler splashing around in the pee-warmed shallow end.
Yet despite knowing this, we all manage to carry on with our lives as usual, because the social code demands that we not acknowledge the fact that you can’t legally demand someone to never picture you naked.
And yet, when it comes to the Internet, all similar logic flies out the window. Sure, more people have access to your images, but the normal person-to-pervert ratio remains about the same. It’s ridiculous that the first place people go when they see a cute picture of a baby is “that’s sick” instead of “that’s cute.”
By all accounts, Wilde is a good mom. A picture of her son’s barely visible hindquarters doesn’t change that. She may think twice about posting a similar photo soon, based solely on the backlash she’s gotten, but the only ones who need to re-examine their life choices are the folks whose immediate visual association to innocent naked babies is “pedophilia.”