Okay TIME magazine; you have really gone for the gold in provocation.
Your cover this week showing a 26-year-old pretty, sexy blonde woman, Jamie Lynne Grumet, breast-feeding her almost 4-year-old son is controversial to say the least.
While the title, Are You Mom Enough? seems to suggest that anyone who doesn't breast-feed is not a good mother, I don't think that's the real issue in this controversy. It isn't the breast feeding that is questionable, the problem lies in the cover photo which is sparking debate because of its sexual innuendo.
Every writer worth her salt knows that article titles are meant to catch the eye of the reader just as every photographer knows what photo will gain the most notoriety. In this case both the title and the photo did their best and definitely got our attention but in an unexpected way. Some people, even nursing enthusiasts, feel very uncomfortable with the cover subject matter.
The picture of Jamie Lynne Grumet's son Aram, who is admittedly a big boy, standing on a chair suckling his mother's exposed breast is disturbing to say the least. It depicts what many people see as an intimate act between a mother and child. It borders on sexuality and that is very disconcerting.
Ms. Grumet is following a controversial philosophy called "Attachment Parenting", which promotes extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping with infants as the best way to raise children. Parents are divided about its values with some believing it to be nurturing and loving while others dismiss it as anti-women and unrealistic.
Mommy Grumet tells us that she herself nursed at her mother's breast until she was 6-years-old when she self-weaned. She goes on to say that she still, on occasion, breastfeeds her 5-year-old adopted Ethiopian son to ease his anxieties in his new environment. That in itself is a bit emotionally unhealthy to many readers.
But, all is not breast-feeding joy and roses; she has also stated that she has experienced backlash in her private life over her decision to breastfeed her sons well past the age of two. "People have threatened to call social services on me or tell me that it’s child molestation.”
Joani Geltman, a child development expert in Cambridge, Mass., says,“I think people are mainly reacting to the age of the child, and to see sort of a little boy attached to his mother’s breast is unsettling to people.”
It certainly is and that may be because of our own Western society's dictates. While breast-feeding an older child may well be biologically normal it is not socially normal. The issue here with the cover of TIME is that it looks a little too much like porn, a little too child-exploitative, and it smacks of sexuality.
Truth be told, the provocative cover is far from an accurate portrayal of breast-feeding. Every mom who's ever breast-fed knows that there's not a single sexy thing about it yet this photo oozes sex. For what purpose?
Breast-feeding is normal for any mom who wants to do so but there should be a limit. My guess is the breast should not be offered once the child can eat solid food. And seriously, does sex or the hint of it have to be used to sell everything, even a type of parenting? On this issue the answer is no.
I think that goes too far.
twoday magazine wants to know: Is attachment parenting really the "bad guy" or is it our Western culture that insists on sexualizing every aspect of life that really needs help? Share with us your thoughts on our Facebook page.
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No Woman Diets Alone - There's Always a Man Behind Her Eating a Doughnut
And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First
Her NEW book, Nourishing Thoughts: The Little Book of Sayings for a Healthy, Happy Life will be launched in May of 2012.