Mothers’ self-representations and representations of childhood on social media

Minna Kallioharju*, Terhi-Anna Wilska, Annamari Vänskä

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine mothers’ social media accounts that focus on children’s fashion. The authors probed children’s fashion photo practices as representations of the mothers’ extended self and the kind of childhood representations produced by the social media accounts. They also investigated mothers’ perceptions of children’s privacy when engaging in sharenting – the sharing of information about children or parenting online. Design/methodology/approach: The study is based on 16 semi-structured interviews with Finnish mothers who had Instagram accounts focusing on children’s fashion. Findings: Children’s fashion photos play a diverse role in mothers’ identity work. The photos can be used to express a mother’s taste and aesthetic skills, to express values, to fit into peer groups and to store memories of oneself and the children. Through the photos, representations of the prevailing Finnish childhood ideals, such as authenticity, naturalness and playfulness, are reproduced. The mothers perceived the children as part of their extended self and justified sharenting with mother- and child-centered arguments. Originality/value: Through shedding light on the practices of social media fashion photography, this paper provides insights into how commercialism and social media shape cultural expectations for both motherhood and childhood. The paper contributes to previous research on sharenting, extending it to the context of fashion photography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-499
Number of pages15
JournalYoung Consumers
Issue number4
Early online date19 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Childhood
  • Children’s clothing
  • Children’s fashion
  • Consumption
  • Extended self
  • Motherhood
  • Online media
  • Other media and children
  • Purchase requests
  • Self-representation
  • Sharenting
  • Social media


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