My friend Jamie made the cover of TIME, and it’s causing quite a stir.
It’s certainly an image that provokes a response. And I must admit, I kind of appreciate the shock value of it: Maybe it’s the actress in me, but sometimes I think it has a place. In this case, the photo throws a topic like breastfeeding out there for mass discussion and challenges the viewer to consider his or her own comfort zones and cultural assumptions. It has sparked discussions in groups that would otherwise never give a subject like nursing the time of day. I’ve been reading various criticisms — one of which is that a photo like this does more harm than good for the breastfeeding cause, but I’m not sure that’s true. And expecting TIME to put her in a rocker with a blanket around her shoulders and a half-hidden child nursing away is just…unrealistic.
The photo of Jamie is provocative — designed to sell magazines. Anyone who’s worked with mainstream media knows you don’t have a say in what photos or quotes get chosen. TIME wanted to stir the pot, and that’s exactly what they did, choosing an edgy shot of a gorgeous young mom in a bold pose with a toddler hooked to her boob.
Jamie — like many moms out there — practices attachment parenting, a philosophy of child-rearing promoted in recent years by Dr. William Sears, who’s work is discussed in this issue of TIME as part of the extended feature. Attachment parenting is focused on building the bond between mother and child through things like baby-wearing, co-sleeping, and breastfeeding. Jamie’s been an advocate of extended nursing since before she became a mom: Her own mother nursed her until she was six after learning the nutritional benefits of breast milk for young children. It’s certainly common for women in developing countries to nurse their children well into toddlerhood and beyond. Interestingly, the World Health Organization recently changed its guidelines and now advocates exclusive breastfeeding for children up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding (along with appropriate complementary foods) up to two years of age or beyond. North Americans don’t find this acceptable. We’re barely comfortable with seeing a newborn breastfed in public, so the very idea of nursing a child beyond one or two years weirds a lot of people out.
What do you think of extended breastfeeding? How did you react to the photo? (Please keep the comments constructive; Jamie’s a friend, and I’m not going to tolerate meanness or personal attacks.)
It’s appropriate that we’re talking about breastfeeding right now, since it’s Mother’s Day weekend! I refuse to be depressed. If you’re a mom, I hope somebody spoils you on Sunday, the way you deserve. Here are some interesting items I found to take you into the weekend:
- Prediction: The next dietary trend will be focused on bacteria-laden foods.
- Watch out for those gas station receipts!
- A shortcut to better health?
- How to make your own bubble tea.
- Awesome gluten-free shortbread.
- Excellent interview with the always entertaining and renegade farmer Joel Salatin.
- How pharmaceutical companies influence doctors.
Have a slow weekend, and see you back here on Monday!
Image: TIME magazine