Instagram-fueled controversy is nothing new. Celebrities subject themselves to the wrath of their followers on the daily—committing Photoshop fails, posting ill-timed selfies, and generally Instagramming before thinking—however, the latest post to inspire public outcry moves beyond the realm of obvious taboo, encroaching on a very personal topic: parenting.
Yesterday, former Disney star Hilary Duff posted a snap of her and her 4-year-old son, Luca, sharing a smooch on the lips at Disneyland. In the past 24 hours, the photo has generated nearly 5,000 comments, most of which either praise the image or deride it completely.
The backlash from the photo was so extreme that Duff followed up on Instagram with a note to the haters: “For anyone commenting that a kiss on the lips with my four year old is ‘inappropriate’ go ahead and click a quick unfollow with your warped minds and judgment.”
A similar situation occurred back in July when Victoria Beckham celebrated her 5-year-old daughter’s birthday with a peck on the lips. In a world plagued by far newsier and more outrageous events, does a mother’s kiss on the lips really deserve a headline?
After a quick poll around the office, the issue, it seems, is thornier than it appears. InStyle Editorial Projects Director, Faye Penn, admitted that while she’s all about physical warmth with her children, lip-to-lip contact is where she draws the line. “I go full-on helicopter when it comes to hugging and cuddling my three kids but their mouths are strictly no-fly zones for me,” Penn said. “I worry that lip kissing would be intrusive to them and it's kind of gross to me. Remember that kids are stomach-flu vectors who tend to leave half of their lunches smeared across their upper lip and chin. There's less risk of contamination on their cheeks, which are super-kissable anyway.”
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Many women, however, feel differently, including InStyle Senior Beauty Editor, Selene Milano."I kiss both of my children all the time—sometimes on the mouth!" she said. "I don't see it as a big deal at all. I wouldn't kiss another child on the mouth—even someone close to me like a niece or a nephew. But with my own children I've always done it. My son is younger and he still has the last drops of his baby face. He lets me kiss him much more than my tween daughter does so I will take kisses any way I can get them from him."
Leigh Belz Ray, InStyle Features and News Director, said that while she doesn’t see an issue with “a sweet peck on the lips,” it’s not the norm in her household. “I don’t think it’s weird—as a mom part of how you interact with your kids is through physical affection—hugs and snuggles and things like that. That said, when I think about it, I generally kiss my daughter on her cheek or forehead,” she said, adding that while it’s not common in her family, it’s also not her place to pass judgment: “Every family shows affection differently and I think all these photos are just sweet moments, not anything to be judged beyond that.”
We couldn’t agree more.