Magazine cover of Jamie Lynne Grumet, 26, and her child ignites the debate around 'attachment parenting' and is criticized as 'exploitative and extreme.'
Your move, Tina Brown.
With a photo that was engineered to ignite a storm of online heat and noise, Time magazine’s cover depicts a 26-year-old-mother breastfeeding her three-year-old son, who stands on a chair.
The story is meant to explore the growing trend of “attachment parenting“, preached primarily by Dr Bill Sears, co-author of the Baby Book, which encourages mothers to breastfeed into toddlerhood, co-sleep, and “wear” their babies in an effort to limit their time away from their child.
But few people read beyond the cover language (Are You Mom Enough?) on Thursday, when the photo was posted online.
Actress Alyssa Milano, herself a new mother, echoed many complaints when she tweeted to her 2 million followers:
“I looked at this and my first thought was, it’s a really cheap shot. It’s a piece about Bill Sears – it’s not about an attractive blonde woman breastfeeding,” Financial Times columnist Gillian Tett told Time magazine executive editor Rick Stengel on Morning Joe Thursday.
Breastfeeding, which is both natural and encouraged for women who are physically able, has become taboo in some corners of American society.
“There are people who tell me they’re going to call social services on me or that it’s child molestation,” Grumet tells Time in her interview. “People have to realize this is biologically normal. It’s not socially normal. The more people see it, the more it’ll become normal in our culture.”
On her blog, which appears to have been crushed by new traffic, causing the servers to crash, Grumet posted a photo of her mother breastfeeding her as a child. She writes that having the photo on display in her home – for all to see – imbued her with the belief that breastfeeding is natural and nothing to be ashamed of.
Indeed, the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding to age six months and then continued breastfeeding to age two or older.
Still, fewer than 15% of babies are breastfed through age six months in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
So the question remains: does the photo do more harm than good in the worthy cause to get more able mothers to breastfeed? Or is it a fair representation of what attachment parenting is all about?
It’s apparently been a boon for Grumet, who has been tweeting from New York and will be making the rounds on breakfast TV to preach the attachment-parenting gospel.
“It’s certainly an arresting image. It’s an image to get people’s attention about a serious subject,” Time’s Stengel told the Washington Post. “Judging by the reaction on Twitter this morning. some people think it’s great, and some people are revolted by it. That’s what you want. You want people talking.”