“A disgusting lack of boundaries” – Many Lash Out at Snap of Dad and Son.

I’ll set the scene:

Your child is sick with Salmonella and has a very high fever. You’re trying to keep them cool so you put them under the shower. To save further injury, you go into the shower with them.

Your other half snaps a picture of you cradling your son as they think it’s rather beautiful and touching.

Your partner shares this online, no private parts on show, and the world goes bonkers.

Why? Because this isn’t a picture of a mother gently holding her child, it’s a snap of a big burly bloke holding his son in his tanned, hairy arms. And that’s “paedophilic”, apparently.

Heather Whitten
Image: Heather Whitten

This image, taken by photographer Heather Whitten of her husband Thomas and son Fox has been shared thousands of times on social media. It has also been removed following reports of inappropriate content many times.

I’m not one of oversharing, particularly when it comes to images of children or loved ones. We all have that one friend who shares every darn thing her children do just so they can have a public humiliation fest on their 18th birthday. But I only see one thing when I look at this picture – love.

When I eventually do have kids, am I to assume that the general consensus is that fathers cannot be around their kids if they’re both naked as it’s super icky and possibly a bit pervy? I don’t want that kind of pressure to be put on my family.

Do people not realise that kids just get naked, like, for YOLO?  At one of my old jobs, we were doing a film which included a child actor. On the day of filming, the little boy decided that he would not talk and was going to take all his clothes off and run around. For no reason. So, as you can imagine, filming took a bit longer than expected.

Are we really going to divide up parenting like this, i.e. women are allowed to be nurturing, men are not?

Consider the below picture. This image, shared around a month ago by Aussie mom Kelli Bannister snapped a very similar looking photo to Whitten’s. And the reaction to it was amazingly positive.

Kelli Bannister
Image: Kelli Bannister

Why has Bannister’s image been approved, whereas Whitten’s snap demonised?

But this isn’t the first time a Photographer’s picture of their children has crossed our headlines. Sally Mann is constantly under the spotlight for her portrayal of her close family, including her daughter “smoking” a candy cigarette here:

sally mann candy cigarette
@Sally Mann, Candy Cigarette


Where do we cross the line with images of children? I know when I was a child, I desperately wanted to “grow up”; that’s why candy cigarettes, toy prams and kitchens are so very popular. You reflect people around you and their behaviours.

Are the undertones of all these images – naked, innocent, growing up too quickly, too much for us in a world where the bad things that people do often make more headlines than the good?

Would you report this picture?

I would not have reported it – but then – I probably would not have shared it either.

HH xo


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Karen says:

    It certainly is a mad world now.

    1. hannahadkins says:

      Isn’t it just, Karen! Thanks for commenting HH xo

  2. mistermuse says:

    To paraphrase an old saying: Some people aren’t happy unless they’re demonizing others. If the father-son photo was reported many times for “inappropriate content,” there must be a lot of unhappy people out there.

  3. I think you nailed it with your comment that you wouldn’t have shared it, either. But it was and so – what to make of it? Let’s say I don’t know the background – don’t know who the child is or whether it’s related to the adult. I have a choice – suspicion or appreciation of a lovely image. I go for the lovely image.
    By the way – remember the poster of the dad holding his tiny baby against his chest? It probably sold in the tens of thousands. It was everywhere. Did all the buyers go around their flats guiltily years later and take them down because the new oppression was in full swing?

    1. hannahadkins says:

      I remember that one! Your chose very well, appreciation of a lovely image. Thank you for your comment.

  4. be2beme says:

    Considering that we can use all the imagery we can get of tender fathering, it’s depressing that the photo received negative feedback. I think it speaks to accepted roles of fathers (comforting not being one); it speaks to perceptions about nudity and how it mistakenly read as sexual; and it also touches on body politics, because if it was a muscular guy in a photoshopped arrangement, we probably wouldn’t be talking about it.

    1. hannahadkins says:

      Very thought-provoking comment, many thanks!

  5. Well explained and [awesome|good] information.

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