Fitness influencer Sophie Guidolin hits back after trolls slate her for 'sexualised' bikini pic with son

The picture of Guidolin and her son Kai with Guidolin wearing a bikini; another shot of Guidolin at the beach in a swimsuit
The mum has hit back at trolls who have targeted her with nasty messages after she shared a picture of her in a bikini next to her son. Photo credit: Sophie Guidolin / Instagram

An Australian influencer has hit back after she was shamed online for posing next to her son in a bikini, with critics claiming she was "sexualising" herself in front of the teenager.

Sophie Guidolin, a Queensland-based personal trainer with a significant presence on social media, had been celebrating her son's birthday when the backlash began.

The 33-year-old mum-of-four shared several snaps with her 562,000 followers on Sunday to commemorate Kai, her son, turning 15. The post, simply captioned, "Happy 15th Kai #firstborn", featured a selection of photos, including her eldest as a toddler and now as a teenager.

But it quickly transpired that a number of people had an issue with the first photo - a picture of Guidolin hugging her son while wearing a green, leopard-print bikini - with people accusing the influencer of posing "sexually" next to her son.

The 33-year-old was soon forced to address the backlash, deciding to edit the caption on the original post to include her response to the criticism.

"We live in the Gold Coast, Australia - where wearing a bikini to the beach is so beyond normal, that I didn't even consider having to place a disclaimer on this photo," Guidolin wrote. 

She explained she had been wearing her bikini as she had taken a quick dip in the pool before her son woke up.

"When Kai woke up, I was in the pool and yes, in a bikini (as I am most days!) I wanted a photo straight away as he wanted to ride his bike and go out riding all day immediately. Do I have a problem wearing a bikini in front of my sons? NO WAY. Why? Because I'm not sexualised to him, nor have I ever been," she continued. 

"If you have an issue, maybe you should look into why you feel you have to sexualise a woman's body instead of it simply being a mum and her son at the pool."

Addressing the controversy on the Australian breakfast television show Sunrise, Guidolin said she had been "so surprised" to discover that people had a problem with the photo.

"I had just had Invisalign on my teeth, so when I posted it, the first thing that I thought or considered was, 'can you see my Invisalign in the photo?' Nothing to do with the bikini," she said on Wednesday.

"I think there's a lot of context missing from the photo also."

Guidolin, who competes in a bikini for bodybuilding competitions, said she has "deliberately raised" her children to be comfortable around "the culture that [they] live in" on the Gold Coast.

"It's always so hot here, so I didn't even consider it," she added.

Kai, who also appeared in the interview, said he is "so confused" by the backlash, telling hosts David Koch and Natalie Barr he "doesn't understand" why the photo has prompted such a strong reaction.

"I didn't even have a second thought of it when I saw the picture at first, then my mum told me she got slammed on Instagram for posting that picture," he said.

"I've been there since day one with my mum when she first started competing. It's just normal now and I don't get how people can't understand that."

In a candid post shared to her Instagram on Tuesday, Guidolin once again responded to the controversy, this time providing some insight into her approach to parenting. 

"I was raised by my family that yes, whilst privacy and modesty is important (hello, I was raised a Jehovah's Witness), the human body is not shameful, nor something to hide. My children have seen me naked, they were there when I had my stitches removed last year, they understand I am a woman, their mum, I am human and I have skin," Guidolin wrote. 

"I WANT them to not be ashamed of a body. Or sexualise a woman who is perhaps wearing a bikini. In their eyes, they do not even flinch because I have deliberately raised them in a way that stops this culture of sexualising every single woman.

"Do the boys have an issue with me hugging them in a bikini? Not even slightly. Why? Because it is nothing more than their mum hugging them. Nothing more.

"Let's not [forget to] mention, the same clothes I wear to the beach, as a professional IFBB [International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness) bikini PRO. Like I literally get on stage in bikinis, with them in the front row."

Her caption was accompanied with a five-minute clip of her and Kai discussing the fallout from the photo, with the 15-year-old reiterating that bikinis and bodies are normalised in their household.

"There's nothing wrong with the picture, you're in a bikini 24/7... there's nothing wrong with it," he said.

It's not the first time a mother has been subjected to backlash on social media for her choice of attire. In February, Vanesita Medina went viral after a fellow mother secretly filmed the Bolivia-based fitness model dropping her son at school in a figure-hugging pink playsuit.

While she was widely condemned online for the "inappropriate" outfit, many others rushed to her defence and applauded her confidence, with Medina herself noting that the fallout reflected more badly on the mum who had taken the unsolicited video with the intention of shaming her online.