Powerful photo of dad cradling sick son in shower goes viral after Facebook removal
A powerful photo of a father cradling his sick son in the shower has gone viral after Facebook removed the image from its site on several occasions.
In 2014, photographer Heather Whitten captured the image of her husband, Thomas, holding their son Fox in the shower after the child became violently ill.
“Thomas had spent hours in the shower with him, trying to keep his fever down and letting the vomit and diarrhea rinse off of them both as it came,” Whitten said in a Facebook post. “As I sat in the shower with the two of them I was just overwhelmed with the scene in front of me. This man. This husband and partner and father.
“He was so patient and so loving and so strong with our tiny son in his lap. His whispers of reassurance to Fox, that he would be ok and that Thomas would take care of him were so steady and so honest,” Whitten wrote.
The photo shows Thomas sitting in the corner of the bathtub cradling his sick son on his lap as water rained down on their naked bodies.
“I snapped a couple of pictures,” Whitten said in an interview with TODAY Parents. “It was just beautiful. It was not surprising or anything out of the ordinary; it’s how he has always been with the kids.”
However, when the photographer posted the image on Facebook, the social media site removed it on several occasions in an apparent violation of its policy on photographs. Whitten re-shared the image on May 2 with the story behind the image after the social media site re-instated it.
Whitten explained to TODAY that she did an interview with a photography blog and discussed how the photo was misunderstood.
“I wanted to take it down just because I thought it would get blown out of proportion,” Whitten said. “I thought the point was getting missed.”
The image and her story had been shared nearly 33,000 times and has received over 140,000 likes.
“I was taken aback by how many people missed the story or didn’t even look past the nudity to find the story,” the photographer wrote on Facebook. “They were just hung up on them both being nude and being in the shower. I had crossed a line. It was too intimate. It shouldn’t be shared publicly.
“But, I disagree. My family may be different than yours. But, that doesn’t make your way right or my way wrong,” she wrote.
Whitten has received both positive and negative feedback on the social media site.
“Had to read your story to get past the photo. Very disturbing for me until I read your story. Some pictures you don’t need to share. This is one. Boundaries. It will bring up different responses for everyone. For me the memory of childhood abuse. Great story don’t need the photo to get your point across,” Brenda Watts wrote.
“Beautiful story and lovely picture! The picture says to me LOVE. How precious! God bless your family,” Kathy Connors commented.
Whitten explained that there is “nothing sexual or exploitative” and that there “aren’t even any ‘private parts’ showing.”
“You may never take images of your family like I do… you may never share images of your family like I do. But, that doesn’t give you the right to silence my voice,” the mother wrote. “To take away my right to share our experiences in an uncensored way.”
The social media site apologized for “mistakenly” removing the image.
“This photo was mistakenly removed by our team and does not violate our Community Standards,” a spokesperson told Global News in an emailed statement. “We are sorry for this mistake and have restored the photo to the page.”
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.