Friday, September 3, 2010

Indecent, Really?

I hate grandstanding. I really hate it when someone uses my children as an excuse to act like they're doing God's work.

At 9 AM this morning, which was when they opened I called JC Penney corporate office in Plano, Texas. I'd like to say that I'd relaxed some since my blog last night because I really made an effort to do so but ten minutes into the first call, it was clear I hadn't.

I was calling to complain about the photo taken (I discussed this in my last post) in their portrait studio of my daughter that they deemed, "morally questionable."

It took her a while to find our photos because I have a very common last name. "Take your time" I said, again trying to be gentle and accommodating. I thought this would help me relax, it didn't. Once she found them she looked at the photos in question and said, "Hum, I don't see anything wrong with this photo. It looks clear enough." I told her that I didn't think that was the issue. She said, "I'm new here so let me put you on hold while I talk to my supervisor." Before she did that I told her that if who she went to talk to had a problem with the photo, I wanted to speak to that person. She tried to convince me that it must have been some type of error because the photo looked fine to her. Nice to know that neither the photographer that took the photos or the lady that answered the phone in the customer service department know anything about their policies. I blame neither of them because their company needs to keep them informed. Apparently shit doesn't roll downhill at JC Penneys.

When she comes back to the phone she tells me this, "This picture was deemed indecent. I guess because she's naked." I would have laughed if I couldn't already feel my blood pressure in my tongue. So this is a little bit of the conversation that followed:

"Are you friggen kidding me? She is 18 months old and she isn't naked, she's dressed like a fairy! What is indecent about that?"
"I guess it's because she doesn't have a shirt on."
"Seriously? You guys have taken photos of her for months without a shirt on. Why do you all of the sudden care? There's a photo of 5 boys in jeans in your studio and none of them have shirts on! What's the difference?"
"Well, it may be because they're boys?" She was asking the question more than answering it because she didn't know.
"How is that OK? You treat my daughter differently because she's a girl? That's sexual discrimination! I can sue you for that! Are you aware of that?"

Now I'll be honest, I was furious! So when she put me on hold again I knew she wanted nothing to do with me. I get that but I am the advocate for my children and my family and this is what I do. I defend them when they can't defend themselves and I do the same for myself. None of this was her fault and I'm sorry she was the one lucky enough to pick up the phone in the customer service department at JC Penney today but since she did, she IS JC Penney during this conversation so I make sure she understands what I'm saying. I'm very clear about what I'm getting at.

When she came back to the phone she read me a store policy that after 3 1/2 years of being a customer I'd never heard.

"Once a child is of the age of 12 months we no longer take naked photos of children."
"Really? Well my daughter is 19 months and you've taken several since she turned one. I mean I don't expect you to ask for her ID but you guys should have more control over this. Are you telling me that you aren't going to release my photos?"
"No ma'am, we aren't going to release the photos."
"OK, well you're saying they are indecent. Are you saying these indecent photos constitute porn? Is that what you're telling me? That's your stance?"
"We're saying that we deem these photos to be indecent."
"So you're saying that your photographer took indecent photos of my child? Cause that sounds illegal. Are you going to call the police or am I?"

Now let me say that we love our photographer and at the beginning and end of this conversation I made sure to make that very clear. He did absolutely nothing wrong and should not be held accountable for any of this. If we didn't love him so much I would never consider going back to Penneys after this.

When she said nothing it was clear that I got my point across and my photos are on the way to my house. All except for the 10X13 which was the main photo. The lady said they it was bent in shipping on their way to Texas which I guess is where they send all the porn. Good to know, but not shocking. They refused to reprint the damaged photo.

After I got finished with that first phone call I hung up and yelled to the kids, "We're going to the mall!" I needed to handle rescheduling the photo and I needed to get some air. I couldn't sit here and deal with this all day or I would make myself sick. I loaded the kids up and we drove to the portrait studio where I knew our photographer would be working this morning. The fact that I stood there in Penneys and explained this to our photographer is a testament to how much we love this guy and to my growth. Ten years ago I would have gone in there screaming and throwing things and then walked through the mall to Sears and talked to them about taking photos of my children. It was nice to hear him say that he stands behind the photograph 100%. Nice to know that the persons involved get it even when others don't care enough to do so. We will be "retaking" the photo so that I can get a 10X13. Obviously she can't be bare chested because the holier than thous find it so offensive, excuse me, I mean "indecent." I have something planned for the photoshoot. I want the photo to tell the story of this incident. I'm the artsy type and don't believe in censorship because it's almost always somebody hiding behind a bible dictating what's best for others. I will make this a learning experience on what we don't tolerate, like censorship and passing judgement. I will get a nice photo out of this that I can be proud of.

This was the first of many conversations I had today with JC Penneys and probably not the last. Our photographer wants me to send an email to his boss which I will probably do. This whole thing was handled poorly. Very "1984." I don't give a shit about your company policy if that company policy was never stated to me so don't even come at me with that shit! I also don't care if you agree with me or not on this issue because these are my children and I will make their decisions for them until they can and this includes where I will and will not go to have their photos taken. When I pay you for a 2 year photo club membership it is your responsibility to tell me something like this and it is absurd that I was not told. It's all about expectations. Had the correct expectations been set when I first came here and signed up for our membership, I would have known to put a shirt on her. Even the photographer, while he told me that "at a certain age they don't let us take bare chested photos," doesn't know what that age is! He should know! I can't hold him responsible because as he's telling me this today, he is standing next to a photo of 5 bare chested boys ranging in age from like 3-7! WTF? Our photographer even pointed to the photo and said, 'I don't understand this photo because if I took this, I'd go to jail." Explain that one to me.

Again, I'm all for protecting children and their rights. That IS NOT what this is about. Agree with me or not, either way, I don't really give a shit.


  1. Good for you for standing up for what you believe in. I'm glad you're getting your other photos, but I hope they provide the next sitting free of charge, given the hassles you had to deal with.

  2. I have a bare chested photo of Max on a Harley when he was 2 1/2 years old taken at JCP by Chris. This is clearly a case of some random idiot in the photo lab who just so happened to be working on the day your photos printed.

  3. Wow, what an ordeal. She's still so young too. Good for you for being her advocate.

  4. I have to say that what really saddens me is the loss of innocence for our children...somehow it is okay that there are pictures of boys with their shirts off, but because she is a girl, it is not okay??? Because, what, she will eventually have breasts? So, because the evil people out there sexualize our children, we can't embrace or appreciate their innocence. Good for you for not letting this go.

  5. It is unbelievable what we have to endure because of a few bad seeds. It is ridiculous that JC Penneys has to go to this extreme to protect themselves, but apparently they had to pick an age and I guess they did not want to have any questionable they low balled the age. So Sad that we have to live in a time that we even have to think of these thing. Sorry that you had to experience this. Stopping by from the Lady Bloggers BBque....enjoy the weekend!!

  6. Wow, I had no idea places like Penneys had any kind of "policies" like this. I hope you get what you want!

    Stopping by from LBS Tea Party.

  7. Oh GIRL! I went TOE TO TOE with a Walmart photo center clerk and her manager over a photo of my 2 year olds naked heiney! I went beserk with 2 kids in the buggy and yelled at them, "If I'm a pornographer SHAME ON YOU for not calling the cops!!! Call the police or give me my damn pictures!!" I got my pics, but I was FUMING!!!

  8. Hi! Stopping by from Lady Blogger's. I completely applaud you for standing up to the Penney's photo nazis! I also use Penney's for my daughter's pictures, and I will certainly think twice before going back to a place which shows such double-standards between girl & boy pics. I hope everything gets straightened out in the end for you!

  9. Hi...I'm your newest follower from Sweet & Simple Saturday Blog Hop. If you have a chance, I'd love for you to stop by/follow my blog too ♥


  10. Hello I am a new follower from SSBH. I would love a follow back at

  11. Love it that they were silent when you said that the photographer shouldn't have taken the pics!

  12. Did you take a photo of the 5 boys without their shirts? I would make that the title page of all my letters to them!!!
    (of course, would that make me a pornographer- since I took a photo of a photo they took or 5 shirtless boys?? Oh the dilemma!) LOL