Well, is it helping to normalize the practice of naturally feeding our children in their earliest days/years?
It’s a serious question. I’m honestly curious.
A few months back, Gisele Bundchen did a glamour-shot of being styled while breastfeeding daughter Vivian. Jaime King was recently instagramming nursing her little one. And in her new spread for Glamour magazine, Olivia Wilde is photographed breastfeeding son Otis. In between all of that, Gwen Stefani was caught by the paparazzi breastfeeding her son while on the street in Europe and Miranda Kerr released a photo a few years back nursing her son while lying in bed.
Does this actually help? Does it make people stop and say, “wait, she does it, therefore it must be good and natural!”
Well, maybe, but for the most part I see the comments on these pics as a mix of “you-go-girl!” and “that’s disgusting.” Pretty much where we were before all this started.
I recently witnessed a facebook thread where a friend was in an engaging debate about one of the woman evangelist’s recent talks about modesty and it addressed breastfeeding as something that should be done out of sight and as inherently immodest. Another mom challenged her on this saying, yes women’s breast’s are sexual but are also practical and there is nothing sexual being promoted when breastfeeding a child. The mom who posted the link initially retorted that breastfeeding is an intimate experience between mother and child and like the intimacy present in sexual intercourse, should be preserved behind closed doors. I had never heard the argument presented equating the intimacy of mother and child with husband and wife before. While it did draw on what so many of us who have and are breastfeeding have often commented on the bonding, it is a practical action of feeding a child and to equate its intimacy factor with the act that created said child is to negate the necessity of giving a child nutrition. Sexual intercourse is necessary to perpetuate the species but is not necessary to continue living on a day to day basis. Ask Mary and Joseph.
For someone who adopts the idea that breastfeeding their child is natural and wonderful but only must be done behind closed doors because it involves a female breast and a level of intimacy they feel should be kept from the world, the recent spate of breast feeding glamour-shots and selfies only adds fuel to their fire. These are women of Hollywood. Women who make money if they pose with little or no clothing on anyway, so they are now milking this innocent moment (pun intended) for publicity. And sometimes, they are. And if you find breastfeeding to be a sacred bonding experience, regardless of where you think it should take place, it is just plain vulgar when breastfeeding a child is being used to sell a brand (the actress or musician’s career).
I think Gwen Stefani’s pic recently is a bit different from the others. It wasn’t posed. Her child needed to eat, so she fed him. A photographer just happened to snap a pic. That kind of “stars breastfeeding” pic is encouraging to new moms who are struggling with how to get out of the house while breastfeeding and not use a breast pump and bottles and is not so in your face “I am breastfeeding mother, hear me roar!” that scares the modesty police and alienates women unable to breastfeed for whatever reason.
It reminds me of something a neighbor told me a few years ago. She has breastfed all her children and shortly before her youngest was born, she was in the mall. She saw a woman sitting in one of the massage chairs on display in the middle of the mall. Having been a breastfeeding mom three times already, she knew what the woman was doing. The woman happened to have a cover but even if she hadn’t, my friend said, it wasn’t in your face, it wasn’t being done defiantly, the baby needed to eat and so she fed him. She said she had struggled with public breastfeeding before that and it gave her confidence to realize that it could definitely be done without being overdone. And I realize, not all baby’s will tolerate a cover but if you don’t make it a production, it’s really not one.
So do pictures of celebrities breastfeeding help the cause? Not really. Maybe they do for people who consider themselves to be “bad-a$$ breastfeeders” but for most of us, they don’t help and sometimes do hurt. They’re definitely not the answer to normalizing breastfeeding so much as those of us who have and do do it could by simply feeding our children when they are hungry.
(This morning while I was considering this post, I went through some pics….house purging still, St Joseph help us sell this house! I found a picture I don’t remember being taken that Jeff had taken of me breastfeeding Joseph. Actually two pictures, one in which I really had to make sure that’s what I was doing in the pic and another taken at the same feeding where there is no doubt–taken over my shoulder–I love that I have these pictures to remember that time and realizing, if I had the opportunity to breastfeed in public again, I could do it. Easily.)