Erin Napier is opening up about her personal decision to hide her daughter's face on social media.
The star of HGTV's Home Town explained on her Instagram Story this week why she shields her 3-year-old Helen's face on social media, strategically photographing her so as not to show her face. Erin, 35, who shares her child with husband Ben Napier, 37, says it's a "personal choice" that's perhaps "not the same for everyone."
"I explained to a very rude comment about Helen, but don't want her being dogpiled. I can block her and move on. But for those who must ask why we hide her face?" she began.
"It's an awful feeling to have millions of people pick apart an image of your baby's face," says Erin. "It's an awful feeling to see a photo of your child used to promote some sort of overseas kids clothing company. It's unsettling when strangers visiting Laurel to see our Home Town (thank y'all for doing that, btw) see her out with a grandmother and reach out to embrace her when she doesn't know them."
"We are the protectors of her image. Without Helen, our lives would be hollow and there would be nothing to share. She exists and we are proud of her," the mom continues. "But her likeness is ours to protect and decide when it's okay to share, no one else's. That's our personal choice, and it's not the same for everyone."
"We love and appreciate everyone who supports the show," adds Erin, "but Helen doesn't owe anyone anything."
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The statement comes one month after Erin spoke directly to some commenters on Instagram, explaining why their negative remarks hurt her and her family, and why she chose to take down a recent photo she'd posted of Helen.
"Your quarterly PSA about how to be a decent person on social media," she began at the time, captioning a behind-the-scenes photo of her HGTV film crew, which she says is "my view for most of my days at work."
"Because Ben and I have this job, it means we open ourselves up to the public in ways that are sometimes vulnerable and I think there's value in that," she wrote of having their hit HGTV show. "I think there is a fine line between privacy and helping others by being vulnerable about some aspects of your life when you're in the spotlight."
"But tonight, because of this job we have, after posting a photo of the back of my daughter's head (why do we never show her face? for her privacy and because of vicious strangers who lurk and comment or could seek her out) there were cruel comments within moments," Erin continued, noting that people were saying hurtful things about Helen's hair.
The Napiers previously opened up to PEOPLE about their decision, when the show began, to keep their daughter off-camera. "People will walk up when they see her, really excited like, 'Oh, you must be Helen.' And they touch the back of her head," said Ben. "She doesn't like strangers and she doesn't want them to touch her."
"I want Helen to be grounded in the real world and real relationships," added Erin. "She's not ready for social media and won't be for many years. I don't even want her to know that it exists."
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