baby and facebook

Does it reflect poorly on a woman if she opts to put a picture of her child’s face–instead of her own–as her profile picture on Facebook?

Reader’s Digest published an article earlier this year in a section called, Argument Starter. The article was “Facebook’s Missing Moms” and boy did it start a few arguments. In the article it states that moms using their children as their profile photo is a “troubling trend” and insinuates that a mother who puts her kid’s picture first has lost her identity. I went to check my own Facebook page after I read the article and saw that I had a picture of my daughter on her second birthday riding a horse.

missing moms on facebook

Before I took it down, or had a bra burning party to reclaim my womanhood, I took a deep breath and went to my Facebook friends to see if any of my other mommy friends were using their kids. It turns out I was in good company, a lot of women I know and a few men were using their children’s pictures too. These were all people who were educated with careers and hobbies. I wondered if they felt like they had lost their identities because of the pictures they chose.

I decided to conduct a very un-scientific poll of my friends. I asked them what their reasons were for the picture they chose. I picked people who either used only their child or their child’s face was more prominent than their own.  After talking to actual moms and one dad I had some pretty good responses and formed my own conclusion about why we are using our children’s photos on social media.

My cousin and friend Jennifer, the owner of a veterinary clinic, has a photo of her and her son at a barber appointment. She said, “I figure that I’ve already been defined by my career for years, so adding mommy to my resume deserves a little focus in my online presence. I’m proud of my boy, so I have to show him off.”

My friend Pam is a brand new mom,  licensed psychologist and avid runner. In her profile she has a picture of her brand new baby girl in a beach hat. She said, “My daughter makes me smile and I want to share that with everyone.”

Then there is Staci, who studied clinical counseling and spent years working with special needs children, she has a photo of her daughter in a pool making a funny face. She said, “To be honest, not much thought goes into it. If I have a cute recent picture of my child, I use it. I tend to go back and forth. Another reason: I don’t have many recent photos of myself and as it’s often been said, I’m usually the one taking the pictures.”

A few of the mom’s including musician and teacher Angela, former banker and PHD Jules, and programming specialist~fitness enthusiast Suzanne were all unapologetic.  They said, their kids were a big part of their life and they used their pictures, so-what.

father and sonI even asked Ben,  a dad, salesman and former Marine who used his daughter as a profile pic. It’s a picture of her making an angry face. He said, “I used it because it was flippin’ hilarious.”

From my very unscientific poll I found that none of the people on my list mentioned their identity as the reason for their photo choice instead most said, we are parents now and that is part of our identity. The conclusion I came to after the poll and from my soul searching was- yes my life is very much defined by being a parent, but so-what. After age 21 nothing defines your life like having children. Before I was a parent I identified myself as a daughter, aunt, writer, Michigan State University graduate and avid movie watcher. Now I am all of those things, but I add the word mom first.

I thought about my own reasons for changing my picture to my daughter. Then I thought of what I used as a profile before my children’s pictures. Most times, the photos were of me fresh after a haircut or dressed up for an event. My make-up was always just done, and I had that sucked-in quarter turn pose to look a fraction of an inch thinner. I never posted any photos of myself without make-up on, with my hair a mess, doing dishes, working at the computer or doing laundry…all of which I do more often than I go to events or get haircuts. Is it less progressive of me to use my children vs. a photo where I spent hours working on my appearance?

Other pictures I chose to feature were of me getting married, earning my college degree, spending time with my friends, on vacation, playing the piano and me with my kids. Those were the photos that brought me joy at the time, and I wanted to share them with the world. I don’t think Facebook is missing moms. We are there and posting pictures of what makes us happy, and for many of us it’s our children.

What do you think- moms who know what they love or moms who don’t know who they are?