Monday, February 1, 2010

Why I chose a photo of my child for my profile pic

The Lasting Imprint of an "Invisible" Woman:

Why I chose a photo of my child for my profile pic

According to author Katie Roiphe, when women use pictures of their children for their profile picture on Facebook, they are saying “I don’t matter anymore . . . The subliminal equation is clear: I am my children . . . Like wearing sneakers every day or forgetting to cut your hair, it is a way of being dowdy and invisible, and it mirrors a certain mommy culture in which its almost a point of pride how little remains of the healthy, worldly, engaged, and preening self . . . [becoming, instead, one of the] vanished ladies.”

In the author’s opinion, a “brilliant and accomplished woman” (and the entire feminism movement) is diminished when a woman’s children are her main concern. She states that Betty Friedan would turn over in her grave at the use of a child’s photo to reflect a woman’s identity. By doing so, she’s surrendering to her own sexuality. That such an act harkens back to when women were Mrs. Name of Her Husband, when news and politics were the domain of men only.

That’s ridiculous! I’m one of those women “Devoted to [my] children’s . . . education . . . and general formation.” Parenting IS the priority in my life right now. On occasion, I use photos of my children as my profile pic. But I’m hardly invisible!

While there aren’t quarterly reports on my work, I have baby books of milestones. I’m a starring character on pages of my kids’ writings and pictures. And while photos of me alone are non-existent these days, I don’t mind being behind the camera. In fact, I’m getting to be a pretty good photographer.

I’m sure my child-related conversations are found lacking to many people, but in this age of information overload, nothing beats speaking with other parents to share experiences and wisdom.

Yes, I still have other interests beyond parenting. I’ve always enjoyed books and movies. But these aren’t as easy to discuss. I’m usually a bit behind current trends since I’m borrowing from the library and waiting for DVD releases.

I still love to cook. But now, rather than perfecting decadent chocolate desserts, I make cooking an adventure for the whole family, from shopping at the farmer’s market, to searching for new international recipes, sneaking in the green veggies and practicing real-life application of fractions.

Many of us aren’t just pushing strollers and packing lunches. We’re taking our passion for parenting to lead support groups, teach workshops, visit our elected officials, campaign for changes and demand corporate responsibility to improve our world for ALL children. And we’re using Facebook to gather support for our cause.

Hmm . . . looks like I’m modeling some “healthy, worldly, engaged” behaviors, the very ones the author was bemoaning that women lost when upon joining the “mommy culture.”

Yes, these days, my wardrobe choices are more about comfort than high-fashion. And my hairstyle is definitely low-maintenance. But my kids don’t mind. And my 6 year old enjoys painting my nails more than anyone I’ve ever paid!

My real-life, child-free social interactions are limited. Now I squeeze in coffee dates during naptime. No more hours at the newest restaurant followed by clubbing all night. Networking

and power-lunches have been replaced by playdates and storytime at the library.

But this is a season of my life. And I’ve CHOSEN to focus on my family. I’m thankful to my parents and educators for giving me the confidence to follow my own path. I’m grateful to my husband for accepting a lower financial standing so I can devoted myself to my vocation as a mother.

I’d wager that the only outrage Betty Friedan would feel is how undervalued parenting is in this country.

By Christine Sheets


  1. Wonderful, beautifully said!! Thanks Christine, for saying it like it is!!

  2. Couldn't have said it better myself!!

  3. absolutely! I totally agree! I feel that since having my children I have become more politically minded and more of an activist than I ever was before ; because it matter to me MORE now.

  4. Thank you for responding to that bitter and inane article. It is people like her that are destroying feminism IMO.

    Her article is frankly sexist towards women. To be an empowered woman I have every right to embrace whatever role I choose. I think being a wife and mother and raising the next generation is more important than many of the jobs out there. And I can't believe the author brilliant and accomplished in the same sentence as out drinking until five in the morning.

    I come from a generation of so called empowered feminist women with careers and frankly it didn't seem all what it was cracked up to be. Divorce and unhappiness everywhere and doing tons of damage. Of course women should be able to work outside the home if they choose to do so, but those of us that don't deserve just as much respect.

    I cannot figure out what could be wrong with me devoting a large chunk of my attention and energy to my daughter's education. And I don't just go into some mommy land where all I can talk about is strollers and various other baby stuff. I read, I watch movies and participate in culture for better or for worse and am capable of discussing my opinions on things other than what the best stroller is (or sling in my case).

    While I have had my daughter in the vast majority of my FB profile pictures, I have never had just her in them either. But that is my choice. And my husband always chooses pictures for himself where he is holding her so our devotion is equal. He will talk about her just as happily as I will (if not more so).

  5. Her entire line of reasoning would never have occurred to me. Honestly, my facebook profile is a picture of my oldest daughter because I'm damn proud of her and I want everyone else to see how cute she is! I'm not invisible, I'm a MOTHER and since WHEN did feminism disparage being a MOM? COME ON! Being a feminist shouldn't be about being a MAN. Being feminist should be about women having the freedom to be who and what they are. In MY case, I'm a mother, and THAT is what I want to be. So THERE! :P

  6. Wow. Thanks for that. I needed to read that today.

  7. Thank you for posting that. I am a Woman, a VERY independent woman, who does NOT need to have my face plastered all over my facebook. I am self confident enough to have beautiful pictures of the most precious things in my children, as my profile picture!

  8. Thank you for this!
    I feel the same way. It actually occured to me the other day that having my child's picture as my avatar might be interpreted "that way", but I don't care! It seems to me that an insane defensivness of something done out of love and pride could only come from the insecure. Our children are reflections of us in so many ways and I feel it is appropriate to allow their presence in my life to impact me at my core.

  9. Wow! Thank you for bring this to my attention, I guess I live under a rock because I have never heard of this before.

    The reason I choose my daughter's picture over mine, because I am proud of what my body helped create! It's not just women doing it either my husband has both his girls as his picture.