who’s in YOUR Facebook photo?

If you’re anything like me or 95% of my personal sampling of Facebook moms, your status picture is either a picture of you and your kid(s), or a picture of said kids without you. I did recently think it was time to change up my photo, and wondered whether I should post a picture of myself without the kids. Do people without kids find the here’s-my-adorable-three-year-old pix annoying?

Well, wonder no more. On the new women’s issue website www.doublex.com, the always irascible Katie Roiphe has an essay posted called Get Your Kid off Your Facebook Page. I won’t question her inflammatory title, since as I now know too well, she may or may not have actually written it. But the essay, title notwithstanding, follows Roiphe’s usual cranky style of blanket assertions and button-pushing assumptions.

Basically, Roiphe says that a woman posting her child’s picture on Facebook, instead of her own, is a form of “ominous self-effacement,” a “voluntary loss of self” that leads one to neglect haircuts, wear sneakers, and bore everyone she meets, even though she once made law review.

I think the loss of self, once one becomes a mother, is real and something we all grapple with. However, I think Ms. Roiphe is overlooking a few points here:

–Plenty of fathers also post pictures of themselves with their children, or just their children, on Facebook as well.
–Many of my friends without children don’t post pictures of themselves at all, opting instead for ferrets and cartoon characters, or perhaps a closeup of only their left eye. A ferret seems like a much more ominous form of self-effacement to me, if you’re keeping score.
–The reason many mothers post pictures of themselves with their kid, or just their kids, is that once you have kids, you’re behind the camera instead of in front of it. If you’re like me, you have about six photos from the last six years that you are in, and in half of them, you’re in the hospital bed, having just given birth, and Lord knows you’re not using THOSE.
–If you’re like me, you think, “Hmm, I’m going to change my photo,” and then leave the same one up there for another six months, because you have a hundred thousand more pressing things to do than dick around with your Facebook photo.

By the way, can’t we also look at Facebook as taking a giant feminist step forward, since most women include their maiden names as part of their Facebook names, in order to be *more* visible and found?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

indywriter May 18, 2009 at 2:40 am

Gee, I feel like this Katie is someone I wouldn’t particularly like to meet in person. I have a master’s degree, but I never read the Feminine Mystique or the other feminist tomes she mentioned. Nor have I been to the kind of dinner party she describes. And my FB picture is of my children.

Either I am a terrific disappointment, or maybe I am the best kind of feminist… One who is happy with her roles in life: Woman, Worker, Wife, Daughter, and, yes, Mother. I only define myself with what I am proud of. I am proud that I can write stories, that I can look at a piece of material and see all the possibilities (and then make them happen); I’m proud that I make awesome cakes, make technology work for friends and families, teach college courses that students enjoy. But most of all I am not ashamed to admit that I am proud of being a parent.

And why are my kids in my FB pic? Because I am not at all photogenic and because I am proud of the lovely picture that *I* took (of them wearing outfits that *I* made).


Roxane B. Salonen May 18, 2009 at 4:08 am

I loved this, and indywriter’s comments. We can be pleased with all our roles as women, including our sublime role as mothers. No sense in discounting that. We are bringing up and forming the next generation. When you become a mother, you die to self is some ways. That doesn’t mean you give up everything that is you. It means you sacrifice certain things to pave the way for your children. There is nothing wrong with that at all.


Laurie/CJ May 18, 2009 at 7:04 am

I have a photo of my 4 year old daughter looking like an 80s rocker imitating Gene Simmons. Frankly, it’s much more entertaining for people to look at than any recent photo I can find of myself. If I find a good one of myself, I’ll be sure to switch it out… but it won’t be nearly as entertaining.


AJ May 18, 2009 at 12:18 pm

There exists no picture taken in the last 3 years that features me and not my children. Zero. In fact, there are probably under 10 that include me at all. The last time my husband ran for the camera when i was having a spontaneous cute moment with one of my children was pretty much never. So, I don’t know this Katie, but if she has some time on her hands and wants to come on over and snap some flattering shots of me, great.


bitteroldshrew May 18, 2009 at 2:31 pm

My children always feature on my Myspace or Facebook profile pictures. As some of the other ladies have said… I’m behind the camera moreso than in front of it. Also, I feel that I really am sharing who I am by putting up those photos because not only am I a mom, but I am a photography enthusiast and I think my pictures reflect that about me. Interesting post. 🙂


Mollie May 18, 2009 at 2:46 pm

This kind of thing is why I stopped reading “double ex” back when it was just “The XX Factor.” There’s only so much “I’m just criticizing the choices other women make because I care so much about building up women!” nonsense a person can read before you realize you have better things to do.


Mollie May 18, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Also, it occurs to me that, though I’m not a parent myself, I spend at least 70% of my Facebook time looking at pictures of other people’s kids. That is pretty much my favorite part of Facebook. So there.


Mollie May 18, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Okay, I have to comment one more time, because I just realized my current Fbook profile picture is of me and someone ELSE’s kid. Psychoanalyze THAT!


Anonymous May 19, 2009 at 3:23 am

It’s a weasel, not a ferret. 😉

— One of your FB friends


RebeccaC May 19, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Wow…how about this? I don’t have a Facebook page and (currently) am holding my ground against getting one. I spend most of my day on the computer and really don’t want to give up any ‘non-work’ time to it. And my id photo for my blog comments is a big, giant crab from a photo taken by a friend…hmmm, wonder what that means….


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