12th May, 2012 - Posted by admin - 4 Comments
This is the cover of Time magazine. I have three issues with it:
1.The article, it seems, is not about the model, or breastfeeding, or natural term breastfeeding. It is about William Sears, who coined the idea of “attachment parenting” (well he made the label mainstream, anyway) but apparently isn’t eye catching enough to put on the cover.
2. The article isn’t about making Mum’s feel that they aren’t doing a good enough job. It is about attachment parenting. It isn’t about pitting mothers against each other.
3. I have never seen anyone regularly feed their toddler while he or she is standing on a chair. It looks slightly odd to me, and makes a 3 year old look much older than he is. Thus making it “look” more controversial rather than framing it as a nurturing, nourishing, comforting element of a close relationship
And this is all before I even start on the idea of attachment parenting as something that pushes people to “extremes” (surely any “handbook” of parenting feels extreme to those who do not subscribe to it? Crying it out feels pretty extreme to someone who cuddles their child to sleep each night). Sears himself is concerned by the emphasis the article puts on the “extreme” nature of Attachment Parenting and how it is assumed that mothers who work outside the home cannot “do it”. Furthermore, Dr Sears and Jamie, the mother in the photo would not have picked the photo themselves. Sears is concerned by the emphasis the article puts on the “extreme” nature of Attachment Parenting and how it is assumed that mothers who work outside the home cannot “do it”.
So why the cover? Well, obviously it sells copy.
Also, though, perhaps they had no choice? Maybe this is the only way to portray natural term breastfeeding? You may laugh but Time claims this:
“Using religious images of the Madonna and Child as reference, Schoeller captured each mother breast-feeding her child or children. “When you think of breast-feeding, you think of mothers holding their children, which was impossible with some of these older kids,” Schoeller says. “I liked the idea of having the kids standing up to underline the point that this was an uncommon situation.”
It’s impossible to cradle a toddler? Wow. No-one told me. No wonder all mothers who feed their offspring into toddler-hood have to invest in a little stool.
But what about the other images of breastfeeding toddler they took?
And does the image they chose really sell copy? Well, it certainly caused a stir. But I have read several comments online along the lines of “I couldn’t force myself to read / I am not interested in reading the actual article” while making big commentary about how disgusting the picture is. So for some all the picture has done is to reinforce their preconceived stereotypes – if they had been interested instead of outraged by the picture on the cover, perhaps they would have read further? But is there a picture of a breastfeeding toddler/young child in existence that wouldn’t outrage those who are looking to be disgusted by such a concept?
And frankly, I am so very bored of reading commentary about how breastfeeding toddlers disgusts people, how it is “child abuse” or “pornography”. I do not think that this cover has helped the position of mothers who breastfeed their toddlers, and I do not think it has helped the cause of those who follow or advocate attachment parenting.
That said, at least it shows that natural term breastfeeding is not something only crunchy spin-your-own-lentils-hippy-types do. So that is something.