four Time Magazine covers that would sell far better than the “breastfeeding is creepy” one

The entirely-fabricated-by-the-press Mommy Wars are newly aflame with this week’s Time Magazine cover: a picture of a 4-year-old standing on a chair so that he might stand comfortably and eye the camera while suckling his sexy mother.

(as if you haven't already seen it one hundred million times)

Are You Mom Enough?”the cover blares, and I’m not sure what they mean by that. Am I Mom Enough to get my hair and makeup professionally done before I breastfeed standing up? Nope, and I think I can live with that.

This picture has nothing to do with what it’s actually like to breastfeed a child of any age; nor does it accurately represent what it’s like to see a mother actually breastfeeding in public (all the skin you’ll see then is a bit of wrinkly stomach flab under a T-shirt pulled up from the BOTTOM).

“It’s a Hot Mom/Young Son meme used as an illustration for a scare story,” said my friend Christen Clifford, herself a fierce advocate for breastfeeding as long as you darn well feel like it. I think she nailed it on the head, and that means we should all just ignore it– but instead we’ll be talking about it all this Mothers Day weekend, valuing shock value over honest discussion of women’s lives.

Clearly, Time did this to sell a few magazines, and sadly, they probably will. But I’m not buying a copy, and neither should anyone who really cares about mothers’ issues.

If Time wants our eyeballs and our dollars, here’s a few cover questions I think could really move some copies:

–WHY CAN’T WE GET OVER OUR BREASTFEEDING HANGUPS, WHICH ARE TRUTHFULLY FAR CREEPIER THAN BREASTFEEDING?

–WHY DO MOST PEOPLE THINK STAY-AT-HOME MOTHERS DON’T “REALLY” WORK?

–WHY DO WE INSIST ON MAKING UP A FIGHT BETWEEN WORKING MOTHERS AND STAY-AT-HOME MOTHERS THAT DOESN’T EXIST?

–WHY ARE WE OKAY WITH WOMEN MAKING 77 CENTS TO A MAN’S DOLLAR IN 2012?

Those I’d buy. You don’t have to trick me into being interested with a ridiculous photo, either. On those questions, most of us mothers are already pretty engaged.

Anything you’d add to that list? Will you buy this week’s Time?

  • Jason

    Want to have some fun?  See if you can trace various problems you see in our society today to media influence as the cause.  It may lead you to the realization that media is not your friend and we all need to be much more careful about letting media into our lives.

  • CenzLuBellsMom

    First of all, if you had actually read the article the child is 3.  Second, your point of view is what makes this cover photo “creepy.”  The article does not cast breastfeeding mothers as “creepy.” It highlights a growing trend of more and more mothers tending towards breast-feeding and some of those mothers are extending breastfeeding into the toddler years.  The World Health Organization recommends breast-feeding for 2 years and beyond.  In most countries this is the norm.  It looks like America may be finally catching up.  For all of our talks about equal rights, you would think a mother would be able to decide how long to nurse her child without society and OTHER MOTHERS attacking her.  Maybe you should have gone with your wise friend’s advice and ignored this photo instead of stirring the pot and doing exactly what you are always blogging against- creating more fodder for Mommy Wars.

    • amywlsn

      I respectfully, totally disagree. Time could have done a cover that normalized extended breastfeeding, showed it as peaceful and loving and good for child and mother. Instead, they put out a cover that will put acceptance of extended breastfeeding back by YEARS. It’s funny! It’s ridiculous! It’s something to be mocked on SNL! I”m not saying I feel any of those things– I’m saying that’s what that cover has done. 

      You misunderstand my (and many others’) derision of that shock-value photo for negative feelings about breastfeeding itself. I breastfed all my kids and loved it; I’ve blogged often about our need as society to support breastfeeding mothers. f the article got eight million shares on Facebook, then I guess that would be a good thing, but no one is talking about the article. They’re talking about the cover, and the cover makes it worse.

      By the way, if the kid is 3, or if he’s 4, and one supports extended breastfeeding, then shouldn’t that not matter?

      If you want to read a similar reaction from a fierce advocate of attachment parenting, read this post on the Extraordinary Ordinary: http://extraordinary-ordinary.net/2012/05/13/treasure-hunting/. She says, in part, “Time Magazine, I have no room for you.” 

      • Mollie

         I did read the article, and for the record: this illustration has nothing to do with it. I thought the woman in the picture would be profiled, or at least quoted. Nope. (There’s a caption on the cover that gives her name, and the kid’s, and their ages.) The article itself is a mishmash; it’s sort of a “What is Attachment Parenting?” guide, sort of a rundown of reactions to AP, and sort of a profile of Dr. Sears, with a lot of not-really-relevant newsy touchstones thrown in (there’s a “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” reference, obviously). Nothing in it justifies or even contextualizes the cover photo, with its “Breastfeeding is weird and creepy – but also tittilating” sensationalism. At the very end there’s a plug for their website, where you can read “a Q&A with this week’s cover subject.” Which I don’t plan to do.

  • http://www.lifewiththefrog.com/ Kathy at kissing the frog

    Not to be a downer on Mother’s Day, but how about the cover “Are You Mom Enough to Hold Your Child While He is Dying?”  Two years ago I watched my six year old die from cancer.  It kind of puts all of this ridiculous  Mommy War stuff into perspective.  We are all Mom enough to do ANYTHING for our children, even the hard stuff.  We need to start  lifting each other up, and not tearing each other down.  Happy Mother’s Day, Amy. :)

    • amywlsn

      Kathy I am so sorry to hear that. Wishing you peace today. You’re right, so much of this stuff is stirred up only by those without enough to worry about.

  • http://thehealthymom.net/ Steph at The Healthy Mom

    Great post. And I completely agree! It’s all about the shock factor and selling magazines.  Thank you for calling them out on it!

  • Courtney

    Soooo sick of the breastfeeding debate. Who even remembers or cares what the child ate as a baby when the child is a teenager, learning to drive, or going out on their first date, or being asked to do drugs, serious life-altering lessons that mothers should focus on. There are SOOOOO many more important lessons to learn and to teach from motherhood than how you fed your child for the first few years. Moving on.

  • ellenstar

    I agree, the cover was meant to scandalize and cause division among mothers. We have changed the conversation however to saying how inappropriate it was; not, for the most part fighting amongst ourselves. Together mothers are powerful!

  • Bilie Jean

    knows someone who purchased it just for the cover.. thinking it would someday be a collectable. I did not read the article nor will I purchase the magazine.. I think Time certainly could have done a better cover for whatever article may hold. My father used to say.. a tit is a tit until a child is involved then its just a feedbag…. I think he nailed it….