Seattle mom Lauren Ferrari posted a photo on Facebook of her 5-year-old pretending to nurse her 2-year-old. Within 24 hours, Facebook took the picture down "claiming Ferrari violated the site's policies," KOMONews reports. She was also banned from the social network for seven days.
"When I posted it, I said, 'She says she's nursing her baby' ... She didn't say, 'Mommy look, she's kissing my boobie,'" Ferrari told the news station. She didn't think the photo was inappropriate.
But Facebook -- and the police -- disagreed. Stefanie Thomas of the Seattle Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children told KOMONews that Ferrari's decision to post the photo was "poor parenting" because it's impossible to control where that photo might end up. "That's something that this family, that these girls, are going to have to ultimately deal with," Thomas said.
Facebook didn't comment on their policy, but it wasn't the first time the site has deleted photos of young girls pretending to breastfeed. In January, they removed the page "Express Yourself Mums" because of a few photos of girls "nursing" their dolls. Later, Facebook apologized for their "error" and reinstated the page.
Beyond questions of privacy and what is appropriate to post online, Ferrari also waded (perhaps unintentionally) into debates over how our society views breastfeeding. Last summer, parents and experts asked specific questions about whether young girls should be allowed to play at nursing at all after a European-produced "Breast Milk Baby" came to the U.S. Many critics were outraged claiming the doll -- which encourages kids to practice nursing -- sexualizes children. HuffPost blogger Tessa Blake saw it differently, arguing that it is natural for girls to mimic their moms. "My daughter has been lifting up her shirt and 'nursing' her babies for years. Are you suggesting this is shameful? What if she feeds her doll with a bottle? Is she not being a kid then, or is it just the breast that's the problem?" Blake asked.
As Lisa Belkin pointed out in her blog post titled "It's Not Porn, People, It's Food," any time breastfeeding is in the spotlight, the conversation gains traction because people are talking about boobs. Similarly, "lactivists" who staged a nurse-in at Facebook's headquarters earlier this year when the social network pulled down actual photos of a mother nursing sought to make clear that breastfeeding is not obscene.
Ferrari clearly agrees: "It's not sexual and they were just pretending," she said of her photo. "What's obscene about breastfeeding?"
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