I too was disturbed by the photograph on the cover of Time. That was the point of it. This was a very direct frontal attack on motherhood and I will explain why.
Now, thanks to one of the biggest magazines in the country, millions have a negative first impression of breastfeeding. If Time just needed a visual they could have chosen a beautiful painting by any of the masters but they chose this awful photo on purpose. This picture equates nursing with perversity! This is an attempt to make mothers who have normal, close nursing relationships of one to two years look like perverts and extremists. Whatever handful of mothers there are who breastfeed children of three are not doing so in tank tops in front of millions. (That looks like a photoshop job to me anyway … that child is huge!)
The supposedly “extreme” ideas of Dr. Sears (who coined the term “attachment parenting”) include the notion that mothers and babies are more of a unit than has been thought in the previous thirty years and that close physical contact between mother and infant by means of the use of a baby sling, or breastfeeding for as long as two years, makes for a more healthy child and happy mother. Dr. Sears has a very extensive website which, I can guarantee, does not advocate breastfeeding until school age. He and his wife (a nurse and mother of his seven children) have a collection of bestselling books which are not in the least extreme — that is, unless one thinks that being a mom who is present to her child is extreme.
This picture was concocted by an angry feminist, perhaps guilty for not being present in her child’s life and so is trying to manipulate the public to imply that the inevitable outcome of “attachment parenting” is a perverted mother/child relationship. I implore your readers not to be deceived. This photo is asking us all to discuss whether “one can be too attached” to one’s child. The answer is obvious: YES! But it should be just as obvious is that being “too attached” to one’s infant or toddler is not, NOT the typical problem of most American women today. For each of the handful of children still breastfeeding at three or even four years of age there are tens of millions who spend their days alone and unloved and shuffled from one institution and containment unit to another, with very little human contact while we all worry about that poor kid in the picture. Today women in power suits everywhere can congratulate themselves that they are not perverting their kid.
Now good people everywhere are tricked into a bogus discussion about whether or not breastfeeding is “appropriate” public behaviour or not. That is just what the feminists want! They hate anything that implies that infants NEED their mothers and breastfeeding does that. They would love to make as many people as possible uncomfortable with it as possible– or else, to turn breastfeeding into just another brash statement of female autonomy. Janis Joplin breastfed her baby on stage– I don’t think we would call her the epitome of “attachment parenting.”
My husband’s cousin said that she attempted to breastfeed her newborn in the hospital but stopped because she said “I felt like I was molesting my daughter.” This attitude is more of a problem than breastfeeding too long! and it is just this mentality to which this picture caters.
Breastfeeding is just like any other act that woman can do– she can be modest about it or she can be brazen. This is clearly the later. Don’t be manipulated!
Dr. Sears should sue Time magazine.
It would be interesting to find out if the cover of Time has ever featured a picture of a baby breastfeeding (as opposed to a child).
Also I did not mean to imply that every instance of breastfeeding of three or four year olds is inherently “perverse.” The Old Testament children like Samuel were weaned at three. It’s only that this what I think is the intention of the magazine to suggest to us.
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The more pressing question is obviously: how many children are being harmed by un-attached parenting? That group of kids far outnumber those with mothers who err in the direction discussed in the magazine. But that would basically indict all of Time’s readers so they won’t go there.
I did a little poking around. Apparently at least one other mother, (she posted more about the offer in the comments section here) and probably several more, turned down the offer to pose for Time’s cover before they found this woman, who looks to be about the size of a pixie.
The cover photo reminds me of this famous painting by Manet, which caused a stir in 1865 because, among other things, this woman’s expression was direct and frank, unlike nudes up until that time.
This poor, confused woman is a perfect product of our times, as she tries to marry modernism and tradition, and from it fashion a new reality. Modernism is inherently unstable because it’s disconnected from inescapable natural order; it attempts to deconstruct that which can never be totally deconstructed. She is actually right that there’s nothing sexual about extended breastfeeding but then she blows it by allowing Time to portray her as a sexy nursing mother. She has the basics down, but they’re all mixed up with immodesty and the wanting-the-15-minutes-of-fame thing. It’s not a cafeteria – you don’t get to pick and choose which traditional values you support and which you reject and replace with modern ones – otherwise you run the risk of sending out a mixed message, as can be seen. In other words, this woman is learning the hard way that if one poses braless in a tank top and skin-tight jeans and then says nursing older children is OK her message will not be taken seriously. Poor fool.
The fact is, nursing mothers have always chuckled privately amongst themselves about the things their babies do during breastfeeding (and say, if they’re old enough), just as any mother does about her children in general with intimates who will appreciate and understand the context. Actually, all people do this – that is, have private moments alone with loved ones not to be shared with the world. These are perhaps our best moments, when we are at our most human.
There’s something inherently evil about a society that won’t allow privacy to flourish. It’s like living in a fishbowl, but now people are willingly participating. We are to the point where if it’s not recorded, photographed, twittered, facebooked or otherwise officially documented we feel it wasn’t worth expending the effort. It’s no laughing matter; indeed, it’s rather frightening.