A controversial viral photo showing a baby with a dimple piercing has sparked a heated debate across the Internet, but it appears the image was staged by the baby’s mother -- and for a reason.
Enedina Vance, of Ohio, wrote late last month that she pierced her baby’s dimple saying, “She’ll thank me when she’s older lol if she decides she doesn’t like it, she can just take it out, no big deal.”
“I'm the parent, she is MY CHILD, I will do whatever I want!! I make all of her decisions until she's 18, I made her, I own her!! I don't need anyone's permission, I think it's better, cuter, & I prefer her to have her dimple pierced,” Vance wrote. “Its NOT abuse!! If it was, it would be illegal, but it's not. People pierce their babies everyday, this is no different.”
She did, however, end her post with the hashtag #sarcasm.
Still, the post was shared more than 14,500 times in the days following, garnering thousands of likes and more than 150 comments.
Some commenters praised the photo, saying the piercing was cute and “people need to mind their own business” while many others questioned the decision.
But it appears that debate was the reason Vance posted what she now says was a photoshopped photo.
“Not only has this sparked a debate, but it has created a dialogue that demands we reevaluate our role as parents,” she wrote in a later post. “We as a society have a responsibility to protect our most vulnerable gifts, our children.”
She goes on to say in later writings it was intended to create a dialogue about circumcision and ear piercings for babies.
“Altering a child's body simply for aesthetic reasons is wrong, as all the angry post, comments, & hate mail explained,” she wrote. “’You don't own your child!’ ‘Your baby isn't a doll you can customize!’ ‘How could you do that to your child?!!’ ‘Stabbing holes in your child is abuse & you don't deserve to be a parent!’ Well said, I couldn't agree more, so why are ear piercings & genital cutting so popular?”
Circumcision, according to Mayo Clinic, is for some a religious ritual, but is also sometimes done in the name of family tradition, personal hygiene or preventive health care. For others, the clinic notes, it can be seen as “unnecessary or disfiguring.”
While the American Academy of Pediatrics says it doesn’t recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, it does note there can be hygienic benefits as well as the potential to decrease risks of urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, and penile cancer. There can also be complications associated with the procedure, however, including bleeding and infection.
Though AAP said the health benefits appear to "outweigh the risks," the benefits "are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision" and the final decision should be left up to the parents.
"Parents ultimately should decide whether circumcision is in the best interests of their male child," the policy states. "They will need to weigh medical information in the context of their own religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs and practices. The medical benefits alone may not outweigh these other considerations for individual families."
Vance said her photo was meant to “shock parents into seeing their children as human beings & to respect them as such.”
“So many parents have begun to speak out, to admit they were not fully informed, that they were lead to believe genital mutilation HAD to be done, that they were flat out lied to & felt they had no other option,” Vance wrote. “Our medical community failed these parents & as a result, they tricked them into harming their precious baby boys. This needs to stop, this needs to change! We need to hold the medical community responsible for their misinformation, misrepresentation of facts, & their greed over the well being of our children.”