Daughter posting inappropriate photos

So my daughter who is 15 started posting sexy photos of herself on Instagram about 10 months ago. The first time she did it, I was able to talk with her about them and she took them down. Recently, she has started up again and despite repeated attempts to talk with her, (both by my husband and myself), she refuses to have a dialogue and storms off. In those brief moments I have tried to hear her reasons for wanting to post, have tried to explain the dangers of predators and the consequences of her future with jobs, college, and relationships. I haven't been able to talk about female objectification etc. Once she shot back at me, the "everyone does it" line. Another time she mentioned that all the replies have been supportive and not from creeps. Which is true. The replies have been from her girlfriends and been kind. Her two best friends don't post suggestive photos (are not allowed to), but ironically are often the ones taking the photos. I think in part she and her best friends get into the creative aspect of taking the photos. My daughter is at that age where she understands that it isn't right to show ones privates, but is unaware of the full implications of posing fully clothed in a sexy way or posing suggestively in a bikini. Since she doesn't want to have a dialogue, I have tried leaving her articles from Psychology Today. She has mentioned that she throws them out. I have brainstormed with psychologist friends. I believe that if I go the way of forbidding her from posting the photos she will post on another account behind my back. Also, I think it is important to not loose the bond of trust between us and work this out somehow. My challenge is reaching a daughter who refuses to listen and dialogue. 

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Preserve your relationship with her & let it go for now. She’s right- everyone does it- and right now she can’t hear you but she has “heard” you. Sometimes when behavior isn’t really life threatening, we need to choose battles- like when they’re toddlers. Surely this will come up many times-& likely has already, right? I want to save the fight for drugs, alcohol, promiscuous sex. 

"I think it is important to not lose the bond of trust between us and work this out somehow." I very much agree with you. And it occurs to me that the whole sexy-photo thing wouldn't be a bad thing IF she weren't posting them. (One of our girls took arty-sexy b&w pictures of herself when she was 15 or 16--pre-Internet--and had received a nice camera for her birthday. I think this was good for her; boosted her self-confidence.)

One possibility, if you are up for some sneakiness, is to call her best friends' parents and get together with them to brainstorm some ideas. A second, especially if any of her friends have siblings who are several years older, is to find a college-age person to talk to her about the pros and cons of asserting her sexuality/femininity/whatever-she's-asserting in this way. When they won't listen to us, and their friends are enabling silly behavior, frequently they will listen to someone a bit older and more experienced and, I hope, wise.

Your daughter is at the age where she is invincible, immortal and can't be reasoned with.  Sound like you are at wit's end are will to try anything.  Does your daughter listen to podcasts?  See if you can get your daughter and her friends to interested in listening to "Crime Junkie" hosted by Ashely Flowers.  Or "The Murder Squad" with Jensen and Holes.  Both shows are professionally produced and the content would be appropriate for your daughter.  Both shows have recently been covering the stories of young women who were hired for photoshoots and never heard from again.  If your daughter is of the option stuff like that doesn't happen around here both shows just covered cases of the missing young women hired for a photoshoot from Berkeley.

This may not stop her from posting pictures, but at least you are making her aware of what has happened to other women around her age.  And who knows, maybe these shows will get her interested in a career in law enforcement.  The Murder Squad, which is hosted by a former Contra Costa County Sheriff's investigator has recently been focused on the "photography pretext" dissapearances and murdering creeps used on innocment girls and women.

You might want to reach out to Ashley Flower and see if she would be have a chat with your daughter about happend to other women.  

Shows can be found In the Internet or in the Apple Podcast app.

Hope this helps. 

Ugh, I can totally see myself here in a few years. I would suggest that you contact the friends' parents, and that all three families sit down for a talk. They don't allow posting, but their daughters are participating in the Insta-machine, so all three families need to draw the same line together. Click through your daughter's account together and discuss what child predators look for. Again, all three families should participate - if she's embarassed doing this in front of friendly adults, ask her why it's ok to post for strangers who have sexual fantasies about teens. (Gross, I know) The other girls need to start using their peer pressure to collectively resist putting their bodies out there for creeps to ogle.

It's easy to feel like we're not important to our teens. They're busy doing the developmental work of figuring out who they are while navigating uncertainty and upheaval, both internally and out in the world. it can help to remember that not only do they still need us, they want to feel close to us, even if that feeling is buried under years of disconnect. One way to build a sense of trust is to put your agenda on hold for a few weeks or so. Find times to show interest in her without judgment or making it a teaching moment. Try not to remind her to get off her phone or clean her room. Approach her with a sense of 'hey, what's going on? I like you and I'm interested'. You don't have to say much, just be close and pay warm attention to her, but not too much. Try to be relaxed and don't take it personally if she blows you off the first few times you try. Basically, listen, listen, listen!

When she starts to feel your support, you'll sense a shift and you can continue to strengthen your relationship. I sometimes notice that my interactions with my teens are skewed on the side of me telling them what to do, or disapproving of what they've done (difficult not to fall into this trap sometimes, especially with Covid). Taking a step back and re-establishing trust and respect goes a long way toward having actual conversations about the state of the world and their place in it rather than just trying to convince them that I'm right. As our children grow we're less able to fix things for them. It's up to them and their judgment and their sense of who they are and who they want to be.

From your post it sounds like you care about her deeply. You also matter deeply to her and she'll be better able to acknowledge it and engage with you when she feels safe and close again. Take a step back and focus on your relationship and all the things you love about her. With that foundation, it will be easier to work together to navigate the issue at hand. 

Research Spyware, this will help you understand what's available and what options you have if talking to your teen doesn't work. We did spyware and it enabled us to know who the inappropriate photos were being sent to and where on the internet photos were posted. Also, what apps were being used. We got enough of a sense if it was healthy or unhealthy. We eventually took the phone away with a clear path to earning phone back. This may not be necessary for you but at least you will know what's out there. Sorry you are dealing with this.

Dear Nitster,

Instagram, UGH!  I have two daughters, aged 13 & 18.  They are allowed to use Instagram, but I also talk to them a lot about how Instagram basically reinforces the cultural idea that women and girls are only valuable for their looks.  You are right that the comments are generally positive, but they are also 99% about their looks.  "Hotty", "So Beautiful", "Fire", etc.  I try to point this out to my girls and then give them my speech about how they are so much more.  I make them sit there while I tell them "Yes, you are beautiful, but you are also interesting and smart and adventurous and kind and hard working.  And those things matter way more."  They laugh and roll their eyes, but I say it anyway, because I want them to hear it.

 Maybe you can approach your daughter about this?  Point it out to her.  Help her to see it for what it is.  Everyone likes to be told how beautiful they are and the sexy posts are clearly fishing for that kind of feedback, but I think the first step is recognizing what is happening.  I also encourage my girls to comment on something other than how their friends look.  "That looks so fun!" or "What an adventure!"  For the record, I don't think either of them has ever posted this kind of reply, because that is not what Instagram is about, but it does make them think.  

Good luck!