Dear Instagram: My topless kids aren’t porn
ON INSTAGRAM, nestled between #homeinspo and #foodporn, is a cornucopia of flesh.
There is "oops, look, I'm in my undies" flesh, there is "I'm starkers with stars on my bits 'cos I'm modest" flesh. Then there is a whole rainbow of downright pornographic skin shots just waiting to be devoured by hungry eyes.
But there is another kind flesh on Instagram, and that unsullied skin is totally innocent. There are kids being kids who are candidly snapped having fun. Our summer social feeds are filled with scantily clad juniors. Families at beaches, water play in gardens and kids running around in Aussie summer uniform of a whole lot of not much.
While each parent must have their own standards of what they deem acceptable, and of course, social media outlets must impose guidelines for child safety, sometimes the nipple police take it too far.
On Sunday, my kids asked if they could try on my lipstick and one thing led to another as it does in a household where fun-loving eccentricity reigns supreme. In a flash of gold, sparkly applicators suddenly "lipstick experimentation" turned into full-blown Glam Rock Sunday.
I snapped a pic as any dress-up-lovin' parent would and immediately shared it on social media with no further thoughts than, "Holy shmoly, I was just an extraordinarily fun mum for 30 minutes. I better share that before I go back to usual surly programming."
Fast-forward 24 hours later, and my Instagram account is frozen for five hours before a notice pops up alerting me that I have operated "outside community guidelines". The sassy, fun-loving photo of a pair of youngsters in flamboyant makeup was removed. My sin? No shirts.
Of course, I may have read this play all wrong.
Perhaps, someone out there has an irrational fear of Ziggy Stardust, like me with clowns. Maybe they spend their day trawling social media reporting anyone making a mockery of Ziggyphobia.
Alternatively, perhaps they are themselves salacious of mind and looking for sleaze among the innocent?
The Instagram guidelines stipulate: "For safety reasons, there are times when we may remove images that show nude or partially-nude children. Even when this content is shared with good intentions, it could be used by others in unanticipated ways."
I imagine it's the "unanticipated ways" which harked attention to this cracking shot in the first place. Maybe someone was worried it would be used as promotional material for a David Bowie tribute band.
We must be vigilant in maintaining the safety of our children (from tribute bands and online offenders), however, are we possibly being conditioned as a society to see all flesh as lewd, even innocent flesh?
We know that there are people out there who may source and use images for indecent uses. But we also know from statistics that the actual threat that a stranger may harm our children is incredibly low. It's this boogieman threat of potential harm from anonymous strangers that is strangling our joy and innocence.
While posting nude, or sexualised, images of your children definitely breeches their privacy and good taste, have we played into the seedy arms of fear when it comes to sharing images of that tiny slice of life where kids can just be kids?
Conversely to the removal of an innocent photo deemed acceptable by a fiercely protective mother, Instagram turns blind eyes to soft and hard porn daily.
There are influencers, personalities, and nobodies alike, all sharing their magnificence on social media in various eye-popping ways. A further delve into the depths of hashtags reveals actual pornographic images with genitalia front and centre with nary a modesty star in sight.
While I humbly respect the Instagram community guidelines, perhaps the vigilance of the garrison is better directed to the not-so-secret feeds of overt sex and porn, and surrender innocent glam rockers to the safety of their mother's feed.