I’ve been monitoring a parental dilemma unfold from the sidelines. In between diffusing toddler tantrums and bleary-eyed, marathon nursing sessions at dawn, I’ve watched lactivists and parents alike discuss, support and deride the following image:
Now on it’s own, to me this picture conveys a sense of breastfeeding empowerment — mama Jamie Lynne Grumet isn’t going to let anyone tell her to put her boob away or that once kids have teeth they should be eating only solids. She’s a tough cookie, but the image also borders on militancy — with the boy’s army fatigues and that odd, staring, slightly frightened look in his eyes.
I mean, TIME magazine COULD have used this image instead from their full photoshoot:
But with that headline, it’s pretty clear TIME wanted to stir the pot and what better way to cause a controversy than by pitting parents against each other? Did you bottle feed formula to your baby? Guess you’re not mom enough. Are you a single father? Guess you’re not mom enough. Do you own a stroller? Guess you’re not mom enough. Media-generated mommy wars abound, and if you can believe it, calls to Social Services for the mother getting her jollies from sticking her breast in her child’s mouth.
I mean really, Attachment Parenting drives mothers to extremes (and only mothers because I guess siblings, fathers, extended families and partners don’t play a part in this nutty form of parenting) by encouraging co-sleeping, baby wearing and *gasp* extended breastfeeding? That by-line sounds like a new TLC show: Babes with Boobs, eXXXtreme breastfeeding!
There have been many brilliant pieces written about this controversial TIME cover. And if you aren’t already sick and tired of hearing about it, here’s a quick roundup of some of my favourite pieces:
- Responding to negative responses from the controversy, Diana at Normal, Like Breathing, writes a heart wrenching post about nursing her 4 year old daughter when breastmilk was the only thing she could keep down after having craniofacial surgery.
- Lisa Belkin at the HuffPo states, It’s Not Porn People, It’s Food and tells people to chillax over the nursing breast, and advocates for better maternity leave, lactation laws and nursing rooms.
- Blossom star Mayum Bialik talks about Attachment Parenting, extended breastfeeding and media sensationalizing AND sexualising breastfeeding on CNN.
- Annie from Phd in Parenting concisely breaks down all of the issues with the controversy, media-generated wars and the damage done to the perception of breastfeeding and Attachment Parenting.
- Even the New Yorker weighs in with a piece on breastfeeding images and includes a fantastic picture from 1852.