Saturday, May 12, 2012

Breastfeeding "Time": What's Wrong with This Picture

If you're breastfeeding a kid who's old enough to talk to you, it's sexual."

My friend Dave still chuckles whenever he recalls the offhand comment I made years ago, for reasons I've long since forgotten, regarding moms breastfeeding children well past the sell-by date of their mother's milk. Today, I revive and apply that argument to the current cover of the U.S. edition of Time magazine, the one that's inciting so much controversy for depicting a mother and son in a rather compromising position.

While I rarely find myself in this particular position -- on the side of the censorship-inclined moral majority -- I must, in this instance, concur with its cries of "How inappropriate!" I understand what Time magazine was trying to achieve with the photo, but there are far less incendiary ways to illustrate the concept of attachment parenting, a topic that is inflammatory and divisive enough without the creepy photo act.

Regardless of where you stand on that divide -- and I, for one, believe that it's just as important to raise children who grow up to be independent as it is to encourage empathy and connection -- thanks to the cover, the point of the story inside is almost beside the point. Which might actually be the entire point.

The cover -- which, speaking of overparenting, is not quite as nausea-inducing as the idea of Alicia Silverstone feeding her son regurgitated food -- seems to be less about communicating an idea visually than about using a photo of a mother breastfeeding a son who is nearly as tall as she is to help make a magazine with a reputation for being stodgy and behind the curve seem hip and happening in the social-media age. It's the most-talked-about mommy photo since a pregnant Demi Moore appeared nude on the cover of Vanity Fair more than 20 years ago!

Though the story itself is topical, with built-in interest, it doesn't exactly scream "trending on Twitter!" The L.A. Times called the photo, not the story inside, a "stroke of genius," and asked, rhetorically, "Who says print is dead?" Exactly.

For those who think it's no big deal, you are as entitled to your opinion as the other side is to ours. However, picture this: the mother and son in the photo replaced with a father and daughter of about the same age.

What do you think about it now?
Post a Comment