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The children of influencers, mommy bloggers, and fitness models are beginning to reach their teenage years.
As the first round of children to come from the Instagram generation, these kids are facing a range of brand new issues. Their faces, identities, and childhoods, in many cases, have been aired online for years. They’ve never really known the privacy many of us enjoyed in the time before social media. One such teen, the child of a longtime mommy blogger, has had enough. They posted on the Am I The Asshole subreddit to air their grievances with a mother who robbed them of the option to live an offline life.
The post begins with some background on the situation. The original poster notes that their mother has built up a hefty following online. It is her primary source of income, and has been for years. OP and their little sister have been a big piece of their mother’s success so far, but they are starting to tire of the situation. Thankfully, OP came up with a brilliant plan.
“I found a website that will print custom jackets, print all over the front and back and arms,” OP wrote. “And I ordered some hoodies that say a bunch of phrases all over them. ‘No photos,’ ‘no videos,’ ‘i do not consent to be photographed,’ ‘no means no,’ ‘respect my privacy,’ ‘no cameras’ ‘no profiting off my image.'” With their clever photo deterrent donned, the poster successfully removed themselves—and their 9-year-old sister—from photoshoots (for the most part).
AITA? My mom is an influencer. I am sick of being a part of it, I had "NO PHOTOS" hoodies printed for me and my little sister. from AmItheAsshole
Unsurprisingly, OP’s mother had some opinions on the hoodies. With her favorite photo subjects suddenly unavailable, she scrambled for a solution. In the days since OP’s hoodies arrived, their mother has tried a variety of tactics to remove the offending attire from the equation. She’s used a number of arguments, from the usual “oh I thought you wouldn’t mind” to arguing that “that’s how she makes income” and using money as a manipulation tactic.
Thankfully, OP is sticking to their guns. But when their mother continued to push back and called them out for wearing the hoodie in what she deemed “inappropriate” situations, OP turned to Reddit to find an answer. And that answer was resounding. A child who does not want their parent’s chosen career to steal every drop of privacy from their lives is, very clearly, not an asshole. The Reddit community came together to encourage OP in their free expression.
“Your mom has exploited you all your life, for money,” one commenter wrote. “That’s shitty enough, but then to try and guilt-trip/manipulate you into continuing to participate even though you’ve told her explicitly you don’t want to be a part of it anymore? That is beyond the pale.”
Other commenters agreed. They offered advice, ranging from a competing account to changing their name or encouraging their mother to rebrand. “It’s not like being an influencer is the only job on earth. Go work in a travel agency or something,” one commenter wrote. “It’s also not like she couldn’t continue to be a blogger – she’d just have to rebrand to one that doesn’t focus on being a ‘mommy.'”
As the conversation continued, talk turned to future generations and the issue of social media. “I think this is going to be a big legal issue in the future,” one commenter noted. “So many kids having to deal with the crap their parents post online about them.”
it’s so interesting that the first generation of kids who were used as props by their instagram influencer moms have grown up and are now asserting their own agency. and their reaction isn’t exactly a surprise. who would want their childhood to be online like this? pic.twitter.com/EFwm0Yei8K— brony sanders 🍞📈 (@post_hog) February 7, 2020
Yep. Stories about tantrums, personal medical details, general struggles, birthdates, it's shocking & horrifying on reflection.— Kristal Pall 🔮 (@krsball) February 8, 2020
The conversation is an interesting one. Several people brought up legal cases in which parents were suddenly struck by lawsuits regarding their children’s lack of consent in online posting. These examples, along with dozens of problematic YouTube channels that have gained infamy over the last few years, all point to a pretty massive future problem. The ever-shifting world of social media presents quite a few societal challenges, and the question of consent may be one of the biggest.
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.