A mother of six sparked internet controversy after posting a digitally edited image of her infant daughter with a cheek piercing.
Ohio mother Enedina Vance posted an image of her daughter with a fake piercing on Facebook in order to make a larger point about circumcision and body modification of children more generally.
The post quickly went viral since it was posted June 28, and has over 9,700 likes and 12,000 shares. The post sarcastically proclaims Vance's control over her daughter's body:
I'm the parent, she is MY CHILD, I will do whatever I want!! I make all of her decisions until she's 18, I made her, I own her!! I don't need anyone's permission, I think it's better, cuter, & I prefer her to have her dimple pierced. Its NOT abuse!! If it was, it would be illegal, but it's not. People pierce their babies everyday, this is no different
MY BABY, MY CHOICE!! PARENT'S CHOICE, PARENT'S RIGHTS!! Don't judge my parenting, we all raise our kids differently, it's none of your business anyway!!
She ended the post with the hashtag "#sarcasm," but many didn't seem to understand the humor and were quick to label her a "bad mother."
"I can’t believe how many people actually believe my photo is real," Vance told 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."
Vance is a strong activist against body modification in children, and has refused to circumcise any of her three boys.
"I found out that research from around the world proves genital cutting serves absolutely no health benefits at all," she said. "In fact, studies I found show genital cutting actually causes damage to the penis. Lifelong damage. It’s only here in the U.S. that there are claimed ‘medical reasons’ or ‘health benefits’ for genital cutting, but they have all been proven false."
In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a study on circumcision, concluding that the procedure has a number of health benefits, including the "prevention of urinary tract infections, acquisition of HIV, transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, and penile cancer."
Nonetheless, Vance maintains that parents should not be able to modify their children's bodies in any way.
"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 told Yahoo!.
"It should be each person’s choice what to do with their bodies. Not even your parents should be able to decide."