Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Yesterday, I received a very sweet e-mail from a self-professed ‘dedicated lurker’ who asked the following question: I wonder if you are ever concerned that your daughter's (beautiful) image will remain in cyberspace, with no mechanism for you -- or her -- to reclaim it or her privacy?

She meant no disrespect by the question, she insisted; she just wanted to know. But she had been, she admitted, afraid to post the question as a public comment, afraid of being misunderstood as judgmental. I understood her concern. The question makes a clear point: shouldn’t I have second thoughts about posting my daughter’s image, about sharing that image with strangers? Should I not be more protective? I have asked myself these questions many times. I have asked myself these questions every time that I have posted a picture of my daughter

I have not come up with any easy answers. But nor have I resisted the temptation to post her image. I continue to post her image, with some abandon. The other day, I posted a picture of her in the bath. I had the thought, at the time: is this sharing too much, with too many? Perhaps.

There is much that I could say about the various arguments that I have had with myself about the ethics and the safety of posting her picture. I have thought about this long, and I have thought about this hard, and although at the end of the day I haven’t got an answer that addresses all potential questions and concerns, I have come to the conclusion that I am acting within reasonable bounds of care when I post her image. Those are arguments for another post, maybe, someday, or for discussion in comments. The question that most concerns me right now, however, is this: why do I post her picture?

In his Camera Lucida (Reflections on Photography), Roland Barthes distinguishes between the studium of a photograph, those elements of a photograph that provoke an interpretive (cultural, social, political) response, and the punctum of a photograph, the element of a photograph that punctures, or wounds – that which provokes an emotional response in the viewer by establishing a direct relationship between the viewer and the subject of the photograph. I seek out photographs of other people’s children for the punctum; I post pictures of my daughter for the punctum.

I post her picture, and I seek out pictures of other parents' children, because these photographs establish a relationship. I seek out those relationships as photographer, and as mother: I seek the poignant moment of understanding, the punctum, in photographs of other mothers’ (and fathers’) children; I look at those pictures and imagine that I see what those other parents see. I admire the curve of a cheek, the ridiculous angle of a pigtail, and I imagine that that was the detail that moved the photographer, the parent, in the moment that they clicked the shutter. I imagine that I see, in your photographs, for an instant, your child, through your eyes, and I am punctured by that moment – that fleeting moment – of connection. In that moment, I feel that understand you, because I understand, viscerally, your love for your child. I recognize our shared experience of intense, inexpressible love. I want to share my own experience of that inexpressible love with you, with someone. So I post my own pictures.

I want you to see and feel the details that I cannot adequately put to words. I want you to gasp at the impossible, powerful fragility of her little arms, and to smile, suddenly, involuntarily, at the expression of intense joy on her face. I want that single, wet, strawberry curl at the crown's edge of her forehead to grab at your heart and squeeze it, hard. I want the detail of the droplets of water to call to mind for you every bath that you have ever taken with your own child. I want the photograph to puncture the distance between us as parents, different people with different children, different lives. I want you to see her through my eyes, to know my love for her, to recognize it as your own. I want you to be punctured.

This is not what Barthes meant, exactly – for Barthes, the photographer is absent from consideration in the experience of punctum. The only relevant relationship is that between the subject of the photograph and the individual who beholds the photograph. But we parents-as-performance-artists cannot separate ourselves from those beings that form the very core of, the very reason for, our art: we hold them out to each other as mirrors-cum-camera lucidae can you see yourself in my child? Can you see me in my child? See how my child looks at me, and how I look at my child! See what I see! See how I love! See how we love!

It was the punctum of a photograph that touched me, that disrupted me, in the recent flurry of news and discussion that surrounded the death of Anna Nicole Smith. It’s a recent picture, of the model, with her baby, you’ve probably seen it: Anna Nicole sits, excessively tanned and looking somewhat dazed; her husband/lawyer sits to her left, on the margins of the picture. On Anna Nicole’s lap sits the baby: she’s just slightly off-center, pulled close to her mother’s body; this detail touches. But what punctures is this: the frilly pink headband that adorns the baby’s head, the garish accessory that asserts the mother’s possessive devotion to her daughter’s femininity; the detail that says, loudly, childishly: this is my baby girl; I made her; she is mine. I, as a mother, have never been tempted to adorn my baby with frilly pink headbands, but this detail punctures me – because I recognize, in my heart and in my gut, that childish, girlish pride: I made her, she is my girl. And in that moment of recognition, I feel, in my heart and in my gut, an impossible connection with a woman whose distance from me – in space, in form, in character, in spirit – was so great as to be nearly infinite.

Anna Nicole did not take that photograph; it is entirely possible that she did not even dress her baby for that photograph, that she did not select the frilly confection that adorns her daughter’s head. Still, the moment of puncture remains: I feel that I have shared something, however miniscule, of the emotional experience of new motherhood with this other mother, this doomed mother, so unlike me, so very, very unlike me. And although I am discomfited by this, I am also glad for it. It humanizes what would otherwise be irretrievably dehumanized. It humanizes her. It humanizes me.

My lurker worries that I expose too much, that we expose too much. I worry about this, too. But I also feel, deeply, that the exposure – the candor, intentional and accidental – is necessary to connection, to the humanity of the communities that we build, across universes of difference. I feel, deeply, that I would lose something, that we would lose something, if I kept myself and my daughter (this unique being who is also and always an extension of myself) behind our fences, safe as houses, concealed from view.


Blogger Gabriella said...

My mom is always saying to me don't post pictures of Samantha on the net. But I post them only because she is mine and no one can take her from me by just looking at her picture. And her picture says a thousand words, better than I could ever express in writing.
That picture of Wonderbaby is priceless, beautiful the way it expresses her joy.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Damselfly said...

Boy, you really think everything through, dontcha? ;)

I love how you captured the water droplets in this photo.

3:16 PM  
Blogger the mystic said...

Beautiful post!

I never post pictures of my kids or even their names. Partly because I'm paranoid and suffer from delusions of grandeur, but mostly because my husband is opposed.

My blog would be much "better" with pictures of them I know (occasionally I put baby pictures of them, since they're no longer babies), and I'm grateful to share in those moments that you and others share with us through pictures.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Annie, The Evil Queen said...

Isn't there a statistic out there that tells us we are filmed or photographed hundreds of times a day? I post pictures of my son to share with family and friends. I realize other people can see him on the web, but other people see him every time we leave the house. I'm all for privacy and try hard not to post anything that will embarrass him in the future. But I think if we build walls high enough to protect everything, always, we only isolate ourselves.

I love the latest bath photo. And I did tear up at her joy.

3:46 PM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

well said.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

i think you and i might be channelling one another right now (did you see my comment at GCC). this is the post i've wanted to write, but you've done it 100 times better--and with a bit of Barthes for flavah! nice!

this is one of the main reasons i sometimes regret not posting photos--i think it is immensely powerful. it's a mechanism through which the community is strengthened, how trust is expressed and maintained.

and i'm seriously beginning to think it's a woman thing.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Scribbit said...

This is an issue that most bloggers have given a great deal of thought. I'm with you on this one. I don't feel my privacy is violated by a picture on my blog anymore than if a random stranger snapped a picture of me on the street. But then I understand why others see the situation entirely different. I don't think it's a matter of right v. wrong, just differences in personality among bloggers.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Run ANC said...

I didn't write that email, but it is a question that occupies my mind quite a lot. I want to post pictures of the Boy so that others can see the wonder that I have created. I feel that the joy I have in him would be better expressed in pictures than in my paltry words. I, too, want connection to and, yes, even validation for, all the daily moments I have with him. (Does that sentence even make sense...?)

I have been afraid to post pictures because of the whole safety issue -- mainly that I am not conversant enough with internet safety to know what is "permissible risk" and what is not. So..I've made the 'non-decision' to show only pictures where he is not facing the camera. But, oh, how I long to share more. We shouldn't be afraid to share, should we? How sad.

4:25 PM  
Blogger ChicMama! said...

At what point does paranoia conflict with the joy of sharing one's life? In this case, you find much joy from sharing these beautiful photos with your readers.

You've already taken steps to ensure that your privacy is protected to an extent - you protect your child's name, and while your surname is probably public due to your status as a semi-public person (lecturer/blogger), her surname might not be. I would certainly be concerned if your child were of school age, and someone could ID her from photos, walk up to her and call her by name. But she's not, and they can't.

Paranoia can't rule your life, I feel. My child is younger than yours, even...maybe readers with older children would disagree with my naivete.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

another writes (well) of this subject. Check our rocksinmydryer.typepad.com- yesterdays post

4:44 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

Making photographs is as much part of who I am as writing and raising a family. ... I have no ambivalence other than to worry how she will feel about it when she's older. Will she hate me? Will she understand that just because I will never be collected in museums or talked about in Art History classes like Sally Mann or Jock Sturgis, it didn't diminish my desire to make trancendent photographs of my experience here on Earth, as banal as it may be?

Those are questions I know I will need to address WITH HER. When she's ready. And I will have to defer to her wishes when she is old enough to make them.

But as for fear, I can't worry about the what ifs, the creeps or lechers. I won't live that way. I won't believe access to a photograph is synonomous with danger. I really think we are in more jeopardy by hiding ourselves away and thinking we are protected than getting out there and sharing what we think and what we've learned.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Beck said...

I have strange personal boundaries when it comes to pictures of my kids - I'll post photos of my baby, because babies are at once adorable and slightly generic. Also, she is more ME than the other two, the other two being distinctly their own people by now, more out in the world. So I don't post pictures of them.
Way to make me cry about Anna Nicole Smith. Good grief.

5:20 PM  
Blogger The Domesticator said...

This is a question many of us struggle with. I have posted a pic here and there of one of my kids, usually when it goes with the story. I try not to mention them by name per se, but occasionally, if you scan through my blog, one could gather the necessary info; their names, pics, etc. I try not to make a habit of it, mainly because you don't really know who is viewing your blog. We like to think that it is our small little community, but unfortunately anyone can come here. I think it is whatever your personal comfort level is. I for one really enjoy your pics with Wonderbaby.

5:51 PM  
Blogger NoodleMonkey said...

Yea, I didn't see the reference to Anna Nicole Smith coming, but it was lovely...

5:55 PM  
Blogger Kyla said...

Beautifully said. I totally agree, although before reading this I couldn't have verbalized exactly why I agree. But I, too, share KayTar and BubTar so people can see what I see, love what I love; and I enjoy other people's photos for the same reasons.

I worry about it too, to some degree, but I choose to keep sharing, because words alone cannot express these feelings, these moments, these loves of mine.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well put. I've been questioning this very topic lately after reading a post that condemned it, one that detailed what all the pervs on the Internet do with these photos. It still makes me upset there are people out there like that who want to exploit our innocent, precious children.

While I'll try to be careful about overexposure, it is also a key to humanizing my stories.

However,if these perverts want to photoshop pictures of me when they come visit? Just make sure they give me DDs... :-)

6:27 PM  
Blogger Lena said...

I struggle with this every single day.

"To express what we cannot put into words" sums it up perfectly.

To wit: I'm reading your entry with a furrowed brow. I scroll down and up pops a beautiful amazing photo of little Wonderbaby. And I smile and say out loud "What a little love".

THAT is why we continue to post pictures. Because the smiles outnumber the other stuff.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Amy Jo said...

Catherine - I honestly cannot quite find the words to say how this post made me feel. Simply put, there were tears, but they were mostly happy ones. Blame the pregnancy hormones. Thank you for always examining and sharing with us your thoughts in such beautiful prose.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

I'm with Beck -- I post photos of Miss Baby because she is heartbreakingly adorable ... and not really separate (yet) from myself. A little generic. I think I might cut myself off at some point though, but when? 1 year old? 2? If my name becomes public and we are identifiable? I'm pulled very hard in both directions ...

Great post.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I agree with you that images can resound within us more deeply then words. That's how I've always communicated my most profound thoughts/feelings--in my art. As a relatively new blogger I find words challenging to express everything I want them to say. So, I appreciate your thoughtful post on this subject.

Oh...I just love the bath photo. The sweet sweet joy!

8:52 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I agree with you that images can resound within us more deeply then words. That's how I've always communicated my most profound thoughts/feelings--in my art. As a relatively new blogger I find words challenging to express everything I want them to say. So, I appreciate your thoughtful post on this subject.

Oh...I just love the bath photo. The sweet sweet joy!

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a tonne of photos up on flickr, with few to no qualms, but I can understand where the qualms come from.

Your words strike exactly at why I post those photos. No one - not even relatives - really needs to see that many pictures of the Magpie but, because I have them and they are her in every essence, I post them. Thank you for clarifying what I couldn't have described!

(love the WonderBaby photo - my husband thinks I'm nuts for grinning at the computer, but he's getting used to it)

10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, sister! And thank you for sharing those lovely bath pics. The bathtime with my two girls have produced some of our favorite photos.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just have to tell you that I felt every detail and grasped every emotion you wanted with that photo and your description. The distance between us has been punctured! I was punctured! It took my breath away!

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! That was a fantastic post! You have such a gift in expressing thoughts! I post a picture of our family every time I blog, and I too have thought of over exposure and the like. I feel that the connection much out weighs the others, as you said so amazingly!

Great picture!

12:00 AM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

I've considered the same points, but never have been able to articulate my reasons so well. I suppose it's part and parcel of why I blog - I want to be known, and an essential part of me is my children. To know me you must know them.

12:23 AM  
Blogger m said...

I wish I had thought more about anonymity more when I first started my blog. I post tonnes of photos, but I also use our real names and I think I may have given out the name of our building in one early post. I have a very very small readership, so right now it doesn't bother me too much, but I do wonder about the future and when my son is older. Like a poster said before, where/when to draw the line? I wish I had gone with the made up handles but still posted photos. The photos are the best part.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Andi said...

Thank you for a very thought provoking post. You have expressed so beautifully so many things that I've thought and so many others that I've never tried to quantify. There aren't as many pictures of Sprout on my blog as I'd like, it's a compromise with her father. The photos that I post now are attempts to capture things that I want to communicate about her without exposing too much of her. I am moved beyond words by the images of people's children on their blogs. I wish that we lived in a world where those pictures didn't sometimes create a vulnerability.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Awesome Mom said...

Thank you for making me feel batter about putting pictures up of my kiddos. You expressed exactly why I love taking pictures and sharing them. I can't seem to ever get enough of pictures of my kids and now I know why.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Alex Elliot said...

I loved your post and your reasons for putting up the pictures which I also love seeing by the way! I think in parenting, or maybe I should just say life in general, it's easy to fall into the trap of believing that just because something has always been a certain way that's therefore the way it always has to be. If at any point you feel differently about the pictures you can always decide not to post them and then you can change your mind again and again etc.

1:35 AM  
Blogger the mad momma said...

Loved this post.. beautifully expressed as usual. I just posted on exavtly the same thing. I am tired of being paranoid. there is a world of perverts out there and my son in his bathtub is as much a target as he would be fully clothed. but that is not going to stop me from sharing his pictures, proud mother that I am, because I know that the mutilated pictures are really not my baby at all.

4:00 AM  
Blogger joker the lurcher said...

this is a brilliant post! i wish i could write so eloquently about this subject.

i post hundreds if not thousands of pictures of my son on flickr. i discussed it with my husband when i started. we both feel so proud of our son and want to show the world that autism does not necessarily mean someone who is removed from the world - pictures of my son show how engaged he is with everything around him.

i take precautions - my son's surname is never on the net, if he is in his school uniform i photoshop out the badge (although as he is at a special school he is very safe indeed at school) and i don't post pictures of him undressed. but i refuse to let the odd few nasty people prevent the vast majority of good people sharing in our joy at our special son.

i also discussed putting pictures on the net with my son. he is the world's best photographic model. he has been photgraphed since he was tiny and can pose like any supermodel.

he loves it that people all over the world comment on how happy he looks. he is always telling people how "ladies in america say he is cute". for someone who gets a fair bit of negative feedback from the outside world for being different, this is hugely important for him.

so i'm all for it!

4:01 AM  
Blogger ms blue said...

Your words weave beautiful intricacy. The photos stun me. I love how you have the gift to share it. Your photos mesmerize me and I find myself reeled further in. The love and the wonder shine.

I too have pondered over the implications of sharing images of my children. It is right for me but I completely respect when others decide they are not comfortable with posting pictures.

4:27 AM  
Blogger Working Girl said...

My children are grown. I'm not sure how I would handle this issue if I were a true mommy blogger. I think I would not post pictures for various reasons. When I first discovered mommy blogs I was flabbergasted. WTF? I didn't see the appeal at first. But then I started really enjoying all the lovely photos and mom stories. I was so isolated as a young mother. And now I see them as a community building force in and era and with a medium that don't seem to naturally lend themselves to community building. Your post seems to express (deeply and beautifully) a parallel position. Post your pictures. Build the community.

6:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has been on my mind a lot lately, and you have captured it perfectly.

I'm like M - I started my blog with absolutely no thought for anonymity, and our real names and town are certainly public. Doh! I agree with her that I should have given us handles of some kind, and not divulged where we live. But I didn't, so now I do worry a little, because I post loads of pictures... mostly just because photography is an outlet just as important to me as the writing.

So what to do now? I tried to scrub my blog of any hometown references, but I suppose if someone really wanted to find us, they could with no problem. But my readership is also relatively small, and certifiably filled with people I know or know online as being other moms. I'd almost worry more about photo access on Flickr, which is why I don't use tags properly.. deliberately.

Ughh.. everything I try to say comes out all jumbled because even though I resent our culture of paranoia and fear, I can't get past the fact that I am concerned. I really, really wish I had've set things up differently and written with more anonymity.

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One further thought - I've always been flabbergasted by Dooce. She seems by all measures to be totally, fully out there - and to a massive readership of people who, by her own account, send her hateful emails on a daily basis.

This may be insensitive to say, but I feel like just about anyone with two brain cells to rub together could go to Salt Lake City, look up 'Armstrong' and be on her front doorstep inside of a half-hour, if they wanted to. I mean, look at her Flickr pictures - some of them have upwards of 20,000 views. 20,000!!! I respect her writing and say this (like your lurker) without wagging my finger, but I really don't know how she sleeps at night, have such a vast readership and having her names and home city (and pictures of their housefront, to boot) so unbelieveably public.

In some ways, it makes me think, "If the uber-blogger of all uber-bloggers doesn't worry about it, then I, with my friends and teensy smattering of other-mom readers, shouldn't worry either."

But then... like I said, I'd be super-creeped out if I were her.

That is, unless I'm a huge dork and 'Heather B Armstrong' and 'Leta' are fake names and I'm the only person in the world who doesn't know it.

6:48 AM  
Blogger BOSSY said...

This interests Bossy because she is posting with a similar lack of privacy over on her blog. And while it's true that we share our stories and our photos in order to connect deeply with those around us, Bossy sometimes wonders if turning off her computer and meeting actual people would work better.

7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fight with this every time I post a new picture of my daughter. I have removed and re-posted many of them so unsure of my actions...But I do like for you (my blog friends) to be able to see her and watch us grow as a family. I do fear lurkers with evil intent and the such...I do also like to think that I have not encouraged such weirdness my way...

So torn. You wrote it perfectly.

8:08 AM  
Blogger OhTheJoys said...

Thank you for putting just the right words to this!

8:31 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

SweetSaltyKate: someone asked Heather Armstrong (Dooce) (Heather *is* her name, btw) about this at BlogHer. Her response? A shrug. She thinks about it, she worries, a bit, she said, but mostly she figured that it's something she couldn't control even with fewer pictures. But she and her husband love photography, and she said that they couldn't NOT do it. What she said about the *ethics* (might Leta oppose this, someday?) - again, a shrug, sort of: for now, while Leta's small, she's *hers* (as a few of you have also said); when she's big enough to be self-determining, she'll rethink things.

Thank you all for your understanding comments!

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how you take the bigger topics, the more weighted topics, and examine every angle. You put your thoughts into words so well. I admire that.

You spoke so well of this. This is a great post, and the picture of WB in the tub is a fabulous one. It certainly sends the emotion, the thought, the sheer glee of being in a tub! with water! and splashing! that you intended it to.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have recently been debating the exact same topic! I have a girlfriend who has a photo blog of her daughter and has informed me that as soon as she turns 1, the blog will be taken down and she won't do it anymore, for this exact reason. I made me think, am I a bad mother (new pun intended--hehe!) for continuing to post photos? I don't think so, but then I debate, am I taking away my daughter's "future" right to say she doesn't want photos of herself out there? I continue to wrestle with it. I have considered just doing shots from the side/behind, without making it obvious who she is, but still giving that sense of "personal" that people crave, cuz I crave the same thing! It is so unfortunate that we live in a whole where this is an issue.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for touching on this. I've been giving it a lot of thought lately myself. I'm becoming addicted to flickr which is dangerous grounds when it comes to pictures. I've learned the hard way. Even after being very, very careful about thep pictures I post I had an incident where one of my pics got linked somewhere and the views shot up at an alarming rate. She was on her potty, though not an inch of bare skin was visable. It's just sickening to me who, why, why, why and well, you get the picture.

Anyway, well said on a thoughtful and obviously important topic amongst many of us.

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, I love your take on this, HBM. Particularly how you tied in Barthes' thoughts on the concept of subject. I think we all worry about this a little bit. But reading your rationale makes us feel a lot better. Thanks for writing this.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, I love your take on this, HBM. Particularly how you tied in Barthes' thoughts on the concept of subject. I think we all worry about this a little bit. But reading your rationale makes us feel a lot better. Thanks for writing this.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I think about this topic now and then, but generally posting photos of my daughter doesn't bother me. First, I do it because it adds a greater sense of truth and familiarity to my readers. While it doesn't totally prove I'm not some 40-something balding man writing a fake blog in my studio NYC apartment, it does help.

And I enjoy showing pictures of her, too, just like I show my wallet pics to people I see in person. My husband and I live a somewhat public life, due to a variety of things, which means we can never fully shield Cordy from strangers. Just being out of our house, she is at risk from strangers - how is a picture online any more of a risk?

And I try to protect our identity a little. Soon a new blog project will force my full name to be visible to everyone, but luckily Cordy's surname is not the same.

When she's older (school age, probably), I will respect her wishes to not have her picture posted online, but until then, she is a major part of my writing, and I'll continue to post her picture.

Thanks for writing about this - it's always good to revisit sticky topics, just to make sure I've really thought about it.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

Well written, once again my Catherine.

As you know, I have no problems posting pics of Bug. Afterall, he's gone, what harm is there? I WANT the world to see him, remember him, know the boy that was and still lurks in my heart.

Not so easy with the older two though. When I started blogging they were old enough to have an opinion on whether they wanted their faces on a stranger's screen.

They didn't really care. But my hubs did. So, I have actively chose not to post pics of them, to protect my husband's sense of privacy. I so often invade it in every other way, I feel I can give him this with no hard feelings.

However, it positively kills me when I can't post that pic of the kids with their tongues stuck to the cold winter pole, or when I caught them mesmerized by a dragon fly on a sunflower.

But until the hubs relents, I will continue to paint a picture with my words and hope that my love for them shines through.

And I will continue to oogle the Wonderbaby and be thankful that I have found the pair of you.

11:15 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

I love what you've said here about it making a connection, sharing something powerful. I think that's true, and love to see wonderbaby and all her joy. (So adoring that new bath pic, btw!) I totally understand the impulse, because I'd love to share some of her pictures with my blogger friends - but JUST my blogger friends.

So, knowing that if it's out there, it's open to all? I'm just not comfy with it. I thought that perhaps I might be okay with posting some older pics until the Bitacle debacle, which creeped me out. Now it will be back only, for sure, even with my feeds switched off. It just made me realize how much I hated the idea of her pictures out there being used by who-knows-who for who-knows-what.

Another part of that is that Misterpie is also freaked out by picture posting, so even if I was okay with it, I would keep the same boundaries for his comfort level instead.

11:15 AM  
Blogger S said...

I too have thought long and hard about whether to post photos of my boys. My instinct tells me that I ought to be more worried about the man down the street (hypothetical, as yet) than some Internet pervert. Because we live in a time when we so often have control over the most minute of things, I think we tend to forget that much of the time our 'control' is just the illusion of control. If something bad is going to happen, it will happen, whether or not I post a few photos. Or so I tell myself.

11:33 AM  
Blogger jdg said...

is it any surprise that in a world where more and more people live isolated in their cookie-cutter suburbs, cloistered away in gated "communities," shuttled from chain store to chain restaurant in SUVs, that these people would be horrified that strangers might gaze upon the digitized mug of a toddler? To these people the only greater fear than dealing with strangers is the loss of their cable television signal. How many strangers see your kid on the street when you live in Manhattan every day? Are parents who bring their kids out onto the streets of Manhattan exploiting their kids?

Eventually you just have to shut your ears to these people.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

given what i say on my blog - what i share, what i show - i don't think i could ever talk about anyone else exposing too much.

i appreciate the views you give me and other readers. it's what helps me think of you as a friend, rather than as an impersonal series of words.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've thought about this quite a bit myself. Will I post pictures of my son? I think I will because I've built a community of people with whom I mostly interact online and I want them to see him when he's born. I want to share him with them.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want everyone to see how damn cute she is! I've not really given thought to the negative side of posting pix. I tend to in general ignore ugly stuff and stay in denial. I'm comfortable there.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Standing up and applauding. Loudly. What a wonderful, thought-provoking post. As for me? I share, because at the very core of my being I'm a sharer. I could no longer avoid it than I could stop breathing. I WANT people to see the beauty that I see, to see what provokes the laughter, and the tears, and the thoughts. Or just to enjoy a cute smile. And to be honest, for me at least, how is posting a picture of my child on a blog very different from letting them walk around the supermarket. The same perverts or lunatics (since that is what we're afraid of here, right?) would see them, but they'd see them AND know where they live, their habits, what type of cookies could be used to lure them away... Until I start wrapping my children in opaque bubble wrap before leaving the house I just don't see the harm. What is the worst that could happen? Yes, someone could look at their picture while performing a repulsive act. Couldn't they do the same after seeing my child at the pizza place? As long as they aren't acting on them, how am I, and more importantly my children, truly harmed by someone else's lascivious thoughts? I know that many don't agree with me, but this is my line in the sand, and I can live with it.

I do draw the line at sharing things that would actually humiliate my children, and that line changes as they grow, and will undoubtedly change again and again as they start to develop their own "public" personas.

I guess I had a lot to say. I probably should have made this a blog post of my own... Thank you for making me coalesce my own thoughts.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I haven't posted here before, but today seems as good a day as any. This is so well written and thought provoking.

To be perfectly honest, I'd only had passing thoughts as to whether I should or should not post personal photos. (I only have 2 so far). This post has made me think. I suppose I'm not worried at this point, having a very small and known readership. However, if my readership were to grow, I think I would have to reevaluate whether I'd post pics. It (the picture) would have to really help reader feel and understand the story. But, alas, that's a worry for the future.

3:26 PM  
Blogger tracey clark said...

Compelling post. And timely as I have been writing and rewriting a post in my head about this same topic. I just got a casual yet concerned email from an old friend asking me the same thing as your "lurker" asked of you. And I believe she ended it with a line like, "we have to protect our babies". I have a lot to say about it because I post many images of my kids on my blogs. I plan on giving my thoughts on the matter soon. Thanks for this post...it's got my wheels spinning even faster.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow... great post, and so thought-provoking.
i don't have a blog, but i have been considering it. and this is certainly something i'll consider.

and you really made me feel for anna nicole as a person, instead of a carictature.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Momma Bean said...

Brilliant. I feel the same way with regard to sharing photos of the girls with the world. I want everyone else to feel and see why my heart is bursting everytime I look at them.

And the curl, it is darling.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Simply spectacular, considered answer to an age-old blogging question.

I've always thought that parents will jump at the chance to have their family in the paper - which then appears online, in that newspaper's website - and think nothing of it. But somehow say the word bloooooooog and it changes the game. We're held to a different standard. "Well, it's not news so...."

That picture. Oh, be still my heart.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Oh and I wouldn't put it past ANS to have picked that ugly bow thing herself. Nasty.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Lynanne said...

I really enjoyed reading your well-thought out response to that person's comment. It gave me a lot to think about, thank you!

8:38 PM  
Blogger Sunshine's Mommy said...

Excellent answer. For me the desire to share is greater than the desire to be private. So I guess others will be seeing pics of my little one on my blog and on flickr for a long time to come.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, I want to be able to think like you. Second, I want to be able to write like you. Third, your post is fantastic! I believe you've determined exactly why it's ok to post pictures,and why we all should. Thanks.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Maman said...

I see it a little differently.. at this point my filles are older, 10 and 12... They are posting pictures of themselves on their MySpace and Blogger pages. In the pictures that I post, I am preserving my memories of them, as sweet and girlish, or at least silly.. instead of sucking in their cheeks trying to look skinnier or sexier than they are (but how they wish they were perceived)... on the other hand, virtually no one reads my blog... so what damage could be done to them?

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've thought about this,too. Some days it seems okay and other days find me horrified that I've done this thing. Except for this...my older boys have Facebook and MySpace and their images are already out there. Doubtless this will be true for Wonderbaby when she is older. But, I do see your point.

11:47 PM  
Blogger The Estrogen Files said...

My good heavens, what a turnout this post brought! What you have said was so poignant, so real, so what I wish I could have said and may have but much more chunky and clumsy in my own way.

12:09 AM  
Blogger testblog said...

I love this post and I love the way you said it. My feelings exactly. My kids are older and can read what I write if they want to...which adds another layer to things. Your candor makes your blog compelling----and as long as you are aware of the dangers I think you will take the right amount of caution. Thanks for the post on this as I have been struggling with it a lot lately.

12:47 AM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

That photo! It made my day to see her looking so happy and beautiful! I think you are smart to take into consideration how much is 'too much' exposure; personally, though, I'd be much, much more worried about letting my girls (or son) set up myspace accounts and then never checking in on them. Since they can't read yet, this isn't really an issue.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yes! Mylar balloons are definitely the way to go :) She LOVES them. Watch out if she puts it in her mouth though, the foil comes off!!!
P.S. Couldn't find an email address to respond to!

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonderbaby is precious.and when i look at her photos i am reminded of a time when mine were all that young.i see a mothers joy and overflowing love,pride,wonder,awe.and how others view wonderbaby pics is out of your hands.and luckily most of us don't lurk in shadows and go into an ugly place when we see babys pics.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm Well....first of all, I hope you get to read my comment as number 71,,,I was thinking the same thing that now that my son is one to stop posting pics on the internet...but I dunno..it's a tough call as there are crazies out there and its not BEAVER FAMILY WORLD anymore.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

"I admire the curve of a cheek, the ridiculous angle of a pigtail, and I imagine that that was the detail that moved the photographer, the parent, in the moment that they clicked the shutter. I imagine that I see, in your photographs, for an instant, your child, through your eyes, and I am punctured by that moment – that fleeting moment – of connection."

Yes, yes and more yes. It's why I read other bloggers as well as look at their photos. The sharing of words and pictures is intimate, for sure, but it is exactly that connection that keeps us coming back for more.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After 72 comments there isn't more I can say except to tell you that every work you said I want to sing.

Thank you.

2:25 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

Well said.

I've gone back and forth on the 'post or not to post' question when it comes to pics of MF. I was very reluctant at first; but then I just couldn't help wanting to share him just a bit. Because he is my heart; he lights it up. And to see him is to understand this. At least for me.

Love the bath pic of WB. They're so free and happy in the bath, no?

8:09 PM  
Blogger Slackermommy said...

What can I say that hasn't already been said except I found this to be a very thought provoking post. Very well written.

12:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just in case you still keep track of comments and links after so many -- I really enjoyed this post (and the amazing picture of WonderBaby therein). I've linked to it on my site (fireopal.livejournal.com). Thanks for keeping me thinking!

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We like photography and have talked about this as well. WE post lots of photos but try to keep them "clean".

I prefer to read posts with some small pictures in them. For me, just like you, it helps to understand the author much better. To know what they mean and what they feel. Most bloggers are after all writing about very personal things and some photos are a great tool. Unless you suck at photography.

There is a danger that someone can use photos and other information to cause damage. But it's 2006 and all kinds of information is out there. If I want to find out where you live, how much you earn,and where you work, I can easily do so. When I think of that, some nice photos don't seem like such a big deal.

Nice weekend


3:39 AM  
Blogger tallulah said...

You have explained so eloquently why I do the same. Thank you.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I for one am grateful you post all these sweet, joyful, breathtaking photos of Wonderbaby - she's always good for a lift of the heart if/when I need one. Thank you for sharing your love of her, her love of life, with all of us.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

I won't post my children's photos - as much as I want to connect and have everyone understand the depth of my love and joy. But I don't criticize your decision to do so - I love seeing Wonderbaby and I delight in your joys. If I ever do see you in person, I'll be sure to break out my pictures.

8:31 PM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

I thought I had left comment on this the other day??

As we are asking age old HBM questions here is mine.. If she is Wonder Baby, does that make you Wonder Woman?

ps..maybe I thought better of posting in the end so as to not get to riled up about my latest rebuttal for Dutch and the those peoples.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've posted about this many times, and have also kept posting photos of my daughter. The Internet is a community, and just as I would not put a bag over her head in music class, I don't overtly hide her image in my online life. I try to preserve our privacy as best I can, but she is beautiful, her joy is beautiful, and I think those who visit my site enjoy seeing the joy in her photos. I'm not ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to say.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Tere said...

Hi, this is my first visit to your site (found this link from Mom - NOS, whom I also found today through Dante's Inferno w/Children), and I just wanted to say that you have perfectly described the reason why I post pictures of my son.

The worrywart/doom sayer in me is constantly freaking out whenever I post a picture of my boy. I don't even want to express my fears for fear of making them come true. But many times, there are no words to capture his essence, his beauty, his charm, or his quirkiness. And just like I am constantly "punctured" by images (including how other parents see their kids), I too want to "puncture".

That's it in a nutshell - thanks for verbalizing it.

2:16 PM  
Blogger AmandaDufau said...

I'm also a first-time visitor, found you through my friend Tere (yes, the one that commented right before me). Thank you for this great post. It inspired me to actually post about a mishap I ahd with an image taken from my blog, and it reminded me why I won't stop posting pictures of my two gorgeous boys.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to the party.

I used to post pictures of my son until one day I followed some referring links and saw his pic on a porn site. He was fully clothed, playing a guituar--nothing slightly pornish--but the sick f**ks of the world saw him diffrently.

About Dooce, she's exposed her daughter FAR too much that it's beyond pictures. The pictures are easy compared to all the times she talked about how much she didn't want to be a mom and just how difficult a child Leta was and is. But then again, I'm not a dooce fan at ALL.

4:28 AM  
Blogger Ralph said...

I am just amazed at the "ownership" statement..."She is mine...blah blah blah"

THINK!...you are invading the privacy of your CHILD is NO place "safe"? How will your child feel about this? How pathetic...it is NOT a kind and universally "good" world out there on the Internet...and there is not universal good will...

PROTECT your children!
A home, the bath, is the most private...sacred...place of privacy...need you share those moments with the world? A naked child in a bath...may very well be "art" to you, a supposedly loving mother...but your daughter should be able to have her life PRIVATE!!! smarten up! She enters the world on the Internet?
My God what a fricking betrayal of those who were supposed to protect you.

1:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand why some people are so angry and paranoid?? Don't everybody see our children outside already??

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand why some people are so angry and paranoid?? Don't everybody see our children outside already??

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am 5 months pregnant and just found your blog and really enjoy your writing. I came across the pic of your little one in that cute tee that says "mutha sucka" on it and decided I needed it for my own babe when the time comes. So I googles "mutha sucka baby" and this is one of the things that came up


So if you are "babyclotheshound" suppose it's no biggy. And it really isn't a terrible re-use of your pic but I just thought you ought to see it as it seems to apply to this post.

And hey where did you get that tee?

1:17 AM  
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11:12 PM  

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