Photo of Boy Peeking Down Mom's Underwear Is Innocent Not Obscene

Mom Moment 138

elinor carucciThere are plenty of things we do as mothers that will probably embarrass our kids when they get older. The way we talk. How we want to hug and kiss goodbye. When we cry at dance recitals. The photos we take. And in this age of social media, there are so many photos out there of our kids doing all kinds of things. Pooping on the potty. Picking noses. Making really strange faces. Breastfeeding. All things that if someone posted of us, we'd be mortified, but because it's a kid, it's cute, it's natural, it's beautiful even. Then there are those intimate moments that happen that are so unique to mother and child -- and Elinor Carucci created a photo diary series called "Mother" that captured images from when her twins were in the womb until 8 years old. The images are not without controversy.

One photo shows her son who seems to be around 5 pulling down her underwear and marveling at what he sees. 

The commentary on these photos ranges from people who see the beauty in them, the "depth of humanity," then there are the ones that call it a "crotch shot" and "creepy" or "strange." Some believe the child is going to need therapy as a result.

I see a moment unique to motherhood in this image -- in all Carucci's images. I feel it simultaneously shows the innocence of a child and the closeness that comes with being a mom. This is a moment that many mothers have had with their sons or daughters. The photo of the boy pulling down his mother's underwear, I will admit, could be me. My children are very curious about bodies -- their own and mine, their father's. We don't freak out and hide from their curiosities because we don't want to give them an unhealthy view of nudity. Not all nudity is pornographic. It's the same people with that unhealthy view of nudity who have an issue with seeing a mother breastfeed.

My children (I have twins as well) know their anatomy by name and they ask about the penis and vagina and what they call Mama's milkies. I tell them ... the truth -- the truth that works well for my nearly 4-year-olds, but those moments we have had aren't documented in photographs for the world to see. That is where you once lived, kids. You lived in my belly for nine months before you were born. And you came out of my vagina. (Or you came out of a pocket in my belly for all the c-section moms out there.)

I'm not sure it's what we are seeing that is the issue -- I would guess that most parents have encountered the very same kind of moment. It's that the image is out there forever. Carucci's children, however, are now 8 and I'm sure she consulted with them on releasing these images to the public. The fact that her son said yes to this being out there tells me that they are an incredibly open and healthy thinking family. Hopefully he feels the same at 16. This family seems close; they have a bond; and all the photos I've seen in this series are real -- even the "staged" ones. They are all parts of motherhood any one of us could have experienced and probably have. They are all moments Carucci beautifully captured. She said of her photographs:

I thought becoming a mother would change who I am and I wanted to reflect that. Things change, not just our bodies. There is something that unites us all in becoming mothers. It’s not the purely beautific Madonna and Child. I hope it reflects a universality.

Motherhood is challenging. It is frustrating and beautiful and whimsical and intimate and bewildering and magical and mindblowing. It's naked and raw and honest. It's full of questions and answers and more questions. It is everything. And everything we are is everything to our children who in turn want to know everything. Isn't it up to us to tell them the truth? To be real and honest instead of uptight and closed off?

What do you think of this image and Elinor Carucci's series "Mother"? Does it go too far? Is it wrong to have an image of your child like this out there?


Images courtesy Elinor Carucci; View Carucci's Mother gallery; and her contribution to The Photographer's Gallery

boys, in the news, photography


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nonmember avatar Gina

Sorry, that photo is freaking weird.

nonmember avatar blue

There is not being shy about your body in front of your kid. There is getting dressed and not freaking out about your kid seeing. Then, there is just weird. Allowing your kid to purposefully pull down your clothing and take a peek at your private parts, is weird.

adamat34 adamat34

Yea, why do people feel the need to share everything.......please stop.

stace... stacey541

Yeah...I don't let my kids face 3 inches from my crotch with my underwear pulled down....just sayin'


O_o  WTH?!?  I guess I am not "with it" because I don't find that artful...I think that is strange.

the4m... the4mutts

Im with the author on the "nudity is no big" thing. But PERSONAL SPACE and respect for other's bodies, as well as your own, also needs to be taught.

There is no need for your kid, at any age, to be up close and personal with your genitals. That's disgusting, creepy, and so far over the line that it borders on perverted.

Amber Kevlin

Good grief, why do Americans feel the need to sexualize everything? Children are curious beings, people have body parts, what's the big stink over? There is nothing creepy about any of that, its nature at its most inimate and beautiful. Love your body, dont hide it away in shame and then teach your children the same. How sad..

the4m... the4mutts

Amber, nobody said anything about hiding our bodies. Kids see you change, or shower, or use the restroom, no big.

But 3 inches from your vag?? No. That's simply wrong. That is far too intimate to be normal.

the4m... the4mutts

Also, this seems to be a "staged" picture. There's no way she just happened to be in that position, Camera in hand, and get such a well focused, well aimed picture. Which means that she told the kid to do this, in the name of her art. Or that her kid sat there "investigating" long enough for her to make a decent shot. Both scenarios are freaky.

nonmember avatar Dawn

Yeah, no. My four year old is obsessed with part parts right now, but I make it clear to him that our private parts are just that, private. Ask me questions, I will answer, but we don't touch other people's private parts and we respect other people's bodies. Of course it has to be constantly re-inforced because he is 4! But I don't think it would be picture worthy!

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