Is this photograph disgusting or beautiful? The answer may surprise you when you actually read the whole story behind it. But then again, controversy over taking images of naked children isn’t exactly new either. Even though your first instinct is to get angry, this shot is not exactly what it looks like. But that doesn’t seem to matter to Arizona’s Department of Child Safety who want to prosecute the photographer, who also happens to be the mother of the child, for child neglect. Now she’s asking for people to listen to her story before jumping to any unfounded conclusions.
What you’re seeing isn’t a disgusting photograph, but it is very intimate.
The photograph shows Thomas Whitten cradling his sick child in the shower back in November of 2014, but it didn’t make headlines until May of 2016, when Facebook repeatedly removed the viral image.
Photographer Heather Whitten has a talent for spotting beauty.
Sometimes, that beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places or most unusual circumstances. But she often takes photos of scenery or of her children playing at the beach.
Like any good photographer, she also finds the time to take a selfie.
After all, if you’re going to take incredible shots of everyone else, you might as well give yourself a little love and attention too.
Heather documented her pregnancy through her love for photography.
In this image, we got to see how far she’d come from when she was 7 weeks pregnant to when she was 34 weeks pregnant.
When her husband tried to calm and clean their sick son, she couldn’t resist grabbing the camera.
But not everyone felt that the moment she’d just shot was of a devoted dad doing his job, and it’s stirred up quite a bit of controversy.
Any parent can relate to feeling utterly desperate when their child gets sick.
So when Heather’s one-year-old son, Fox became horribly ill, she and her husband did whatever was necessary to make him feel better.
Fox had a fever and continued to get sicker so they took him to the hospital.
There they learned that the vomiting and diarrhea the child was experiencing was the result of salmonella poisoning, but since Thomas and Heather didn’t know that initially, they tried everything to alleviate the child’s discomfort.
Now no one would bat an eyelash over a photo like this.
In fact, it’s quite common for Heather to take photos like this of herself with her child or of children playing.
Kids seem to inspire the photographer in Heather.
Those little rascals certainliy find unusual ways to entertain themselves and she loves capturing those moments that are so rare and so fleeting.
Both Fox and his dad, Thomas, were covered in body fluids.
So finally, Thomas decided to kill two birds with one stone and cradle his sick son in the shower. But although the hot shower was cleaning them both up, it also soothed the little boy too.
While many of us take mental snapshots, Heather prefers a different approach.
It’s so much easier for her to pull her camera out and document her family just as they are. So when she sees something she likes, clicking and taking shots comes natural to her.
There will always be people who consider Heather’s photos to be oversharing.
But these are moments that she treasures and she loves sharing them with other people, which is why she couldn’t understand why people had reacted so harshly towards the photo of father and son in the shower.
The photo was flagged as inappropriate and removed from social media.
Many people didn’t even take the time to read the story behind the photo, but rather focused on the fact that a father and son were in the shower without any clothes on. Ironically, a similar photo of a mother and child in the shower went viral, but didn’t cause this level of controversy.
As the controversy over the photo grew, a GoFundMe Campaign was created.
The campaign was designed to support Heather to cover her legal fees as she was now being accused of child neglect. The site managed to raise $5,545 before the deadline and is no longer active. You can check it out by going to Gofundme.com/whittenappeal.
After Facebook repeatedly removed the image, Heather convinced them that it wasn’t controversial.
Eventually, the social media site recognized how powerful the photo was and was reinstated with over 170,000 likes and 38,000 shares.
The photo also represents a memento for their son, Fox.
Although Thomas has a close relationship with all of their children, this particular experienced created a special bond between father and son. So Heather had no issues taking a stand and justifying her reasons for taking it and posting it.
Heather also pointed out that a lot of the time moms are seen as the nurturers.
Women are often getting all the attention for being nurturing to their kids, but she felt that showing the world that a father could also be nurturing was equally as important.
Fortunately, despite the hate, some comments have been very positive
One person even wrote that all they saw was a “loving, caring dad comforting his sick child,” while another summed it up by saying that “this is a beautiful image,” and clearly it is.
While no criminal charges are being taken against Heather, she still needs help.
There’s a hearing to appeal a claim of neglect based on her photographic work. So to stop the neglect claims against her, you can help by visiting Change.org and signing the online petition, which is only 8,642 signatures short of reaching its 35,000 goal.