Photo of dad and son in shower sparks storm on Internet

PHOTO: Heather Whitten's Facebook page

What do you see when you look at this photo of a father and son naked in the shower?

This image, shot by US photographer Heather Whitten, has caused a stir on the Internet and ignited a heated debate.

The image of her husband Thomas holding their son Fox in the shower was shot in November 2014 when Fox came down with salmonella poisoning.

Whitten shared the photo on Facebook earlier this month and was shocked by the reactions to her photo, which has racked up more than 25,000 comments and been shared over 38,000 times.

While some applaud it as a raw, honest look at a father's love and devotion, others have blasted it as exploitative and distasteful.

Read also: Should parents post photos of their children on social media?

"People are missing the point. This self indulgent mother has just posted a naked picture of her child online. There are probably millions of pedophiles on the internet. Who are basically free to do anything with the picture that they choose," said Facebook user Kurt Chip.

Another user, Misty Na, said: "My husband and I bathe with our son. He is 15 months old...There is nothing taboo about it. The story behind this is even more heart breaking. This is real, raw parenting at its finest. I'm sorry people don't see it that way."

Whitten said in her post that she had been overwhelmed by the scene unfolding before her, of her husband caring for their sick son, and had wanted to capture the moment.

"Thomas had spent hours in the shower with him, trying to keep his fever down and letting the vomit and diarrhoea rinse off of them both as it came," she wrote.

"I was taken aback by how many people missed the story or didn't even look past the nudity to find the story. They were just hung up on them both being nude and being in the shower," she said on Facebook.

Some people had even contacted her saying it triggered memories of past abuse, something she had not even considered when posting the picture, she told the BBC.

Whitten's post was even taken down by Facebook several times, before ultimately being reinstated each time, reported the BBC.

Facebook's community standards lay out the social networking site's policy on nudity. It says: "We restrict the display of nudity because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content - particularly because of their cultural background or age."

A spokeswoman for Facebook told BBC that the picture had been taken down in error but has been reinstated. 

xiuhuil@sph.com.sg

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