When Enedina Vance shared a picture of her six-month-old daughter on Facebook sporting a dimple piercing, she wanted to send a message to other parents.
Showing her daughter with a cheek 'piercing', Vance had Photoshopped the jewel into her daughter's face to prove a point. Her post has sparked a tidal wave of controversy though, racking up nearly 12,000 shares and over 120 comments.
Some of her friends and family have jumped onto the satirical train. But others are enraged, labelling her a “bad mother” and even threatening to call child protection services for abusing her baby girl – these people clearly missed her “#sarcasm” at the bottom of the post.
“I can’t believe how many people actually believe my photo is real,” Vance tells Yahoo Beauty. “So many people are outraged at the thought of piercing my baby at such a young age, without her consent, and against her will. Yet, they don’t understand how other body mutilations, alterations, and modifications are the exact same thing for the exact same reason: aesthetic purposes.”
The mother-of-six became an activist against body alterations in children when she was pregnant for the first time. Her doctor asked whether she wanted to circumcise her baby or not.
“I went home and did research,” she says, “never before have I even thought about this; I grew up in a household with only women.”
Her first pregnancy turned out to be twin girls. However, Vance had to face the situation when she gave birth to a baby boy a few years later. She did more research on the subject and ultimately decided that circumcision was not the best choice for her family.
“I found out that research from around the world proves genital cutting serves absolutely no health benefits at all,” she says. “In fact, studies I found show genital cutting actually causes damage to the penis. Lifelong damage. It’s only here in the US that there are claimed ‘medical reasons’ or ‘health benefits’ for genital cutting, but they have all been proven false.”
The American Academy of Paediatrics released a study on circumcision and its effects in 2012. The study concluded that “on male circumcision, current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks.”
The stay-at-home mum has three boys, all of whom she decided not to circumcise. With the newfound popularity of her baby’s “pierced” photo, she wants to educate others on the subject. And she has done just that in follow-up posts on her Facebook page.
“I’m very passionate about children’s right to physical integrity. Each and every one of us has the right to our own body, our entire body,” she says, “Why not children? The U.S. set a law in place protecting infant girls from cultural and religious genital cutting in 1997. Why are infant boys not equally protected?”
Vance says her husband wishes he had been more educated on the subject prior to having the procedure done for the two boys he had before his marriage to her. To him, it was just a matter of hygiene – and doing it because he is circumcised and so was his father.
“If ‘piercing’ my baby’s face is so enraging because she’s a baby without consent, why aren’t people just as enraged over piercing any other part of her body? Why are her ears any different than her face?” Vance says. “Why is it OK to modify, alter, and mutilate our children to society’s standards? And why do people get so angry when I point out their hypocrisy?”
Despite all the information Vance has shared on Facebook, she says that some of her friends are still shocked when she tells them she didn’t circumcise her boys.
“It should be each person’s choice what to do with their bodies. Not even your parents should be able to decide.”