No, Internet - Pictures Of Toddlers In Swimsuits Are Not 'Sexy' Or 'Provocative'

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 

Jessica Simpson posted a photo of her adorable daughter Maxwell to her Instagram account last week, to some backlash. There’s always backlash to public parenting decisions by celebrities, no matter how small and inconsequential — this time it involved questioning Simpson for putting her young child in a bikini and allowing her to pose “provocatively.” Toddlers cannot be provocative, so I ignored the backlash with an eye roll, until I saw this headline: Sassy or sexy? Jessica Simpson’s photo of 3-year-old daughter in a bathing suit draws fire. Seriously? Kids in bathing suits are not “sexy.” Ever.

Simpson was slammed for posting another photo of Maxwell in a bikini, when she was four months old. There’s nothing wrong with an infant in a bikini. There’s something wrong with accusing a parent of wrongdoing when they put an infant in a bikini, though. Here are a few comments that slam her for her decision:

I guess people don’t realize how sickos get off looking at little girls when they pose provocatively. Doesn’t anyone just take cute pictures for their own family album? And then celebrities complain about privacy, smh
Way to go, Jessica. Start sexualizing your daughter early!!! She has her mother’s legs.
This is way too young in my opinion to be posting pics of your little girl in swimsuits on a public social media account. Sadly we live in the world we do with sexual predators everywhere. Jessica Simpson is not protecting her child from that, especially being a celebrity.

Kids in bathing suits solicit a cry of think of all the pedophiles! The most important thing to a parent is keeping their child safe. There’s nothing wrong with the collective call to keep children safely tucked away from pedophiles, but even the slightest assumption that a parenting decision like photographing a child in a swimsuit can put a child in danger of being abused is just wrong. As Jezebel’s Tracy Moore says, “once we even start suggesting that how children look in pictures or how parents let their children look in innocuous pictures—when the kids are absolutely just being kids in all their goofy mimicry of the world (a world we have made, and we have brought them into)—well, it just starts making them responsible for being potentially victimized, and that means we’re already too far down the wrong road.”

My mother loves telling the story of my three-year-old self, so paranoid about getting my favorite swimsuit wet that I would fold it up and leave it on the shore before I went into the water — totally nude. I was not being “provocative.” I was being a child.

Whether the majority will agree with it or not, online social sharing sites like Instagram and Facebook have become our family photo albums. Many, many people have public Instagram accounts and Facebook photo albums. Child molesters existed before the internet — it’s not something social sharing of photos of children “caused.” We should also remember that 90% of child sex abuse victims know their perpetrators in some way, so claiming that an image on the internet puts them in any more danger is ill-informed.

It’s disturbing how early we start to teach girls that their bodies are “shameful” and just begging to be abused. If this were a photo of a boy in a speedo making muscle arms, there would be no outrage, and the “danger” people are complaining about would still be there because boys aren’t safe from abuse, either. If you want to rally against child abuse, donate to a cause that educates parents and actually helps children — don’t slam parents online for harmless decisions that do not put their children in danger.

Photos of children in bikinis are not “sexy.” Period.

Related post: The Bikini Question

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