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The Touch Taboo: Society is intolerant of fathers caring for their daughters

JR Smith recently posted a pic of him holding his baby daughter in the shower nude and sparked controversy on social media.

Subsequently, fans asked the Cleveland Cavaliers player to delete the photo, calling it “inappropriate.”


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My sign ain’t water but we #AquaBeingsOverHere

A post shared by JR Smith (@teamswish) on

This isn’t the first time socials have criticized fathers interacting with their daughters.

Last year, a Christmas post on David Beckham’s IG showing him giving his daughter a peck on the lips stirred disapproval from many.


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Christmas is coming 🎅🏼 Let’s go skate ♥️

A post shared by David Beckham (@davidbeckham) on

This discomfort and often outright shock and horror towards fathers that show affection to their daughters is called the “touch taboo.”

Originally, the “touch taboo” referred to the discomfort of fathers with their daughters’ developing bodies. Certainly, this often leads to the physical withdrawals of fathers.

As their daughter gets older, a father will stop hugging, kissing and showing affection to their child. Notably, this is often detrimental to the father-daughter relationship and can lead to issues for the child’s development.

The touch taboo seems to have extended to a larger society that is uncomfortable with seeing a father interacting with a daughter in an affectionate way. Moreover, the touch taboo sexualizes the relationship and by default, sexualizes the daughter.

Joe Kelly, author and fathering educator, told Psychology Today that he noticed a shift among younger fathers who are more involved in parenting and more open to expressing their anxieties about raising daughters.

This progressive view of fatherhood is apparent in the counter social media response to JR Smith’s photo. Many tweeted about the father bathing his daughter nude being innocent and harmless.

Furthermore, other commentators claimed that it wasn’t the photo that was the issue but rather the sharing of the photo on IG.

We tend to upload our lives online. That’s the world we live in. So, why would the love of a father in this innocent moment be any different?

Fathers should be able to love and show affection to their children even if they are female. Additionally, society should give up the idea of this kind of fatherly love being inappropriate.


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Someone tell @teamswish that my Daddy did it first! One time for all the good Daddys out there ! 💕 #WaterSignBaby

A post shared by Freddys Daughter 🦉 (@star_rae) on


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