Skip to comments.Many Outraged by Breast-Feeding Magazine Cover
Posted on 07/29/2006 8:31:37 AM PDT by HairOfTheDog
NEW YORK (July 27) - "I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine," one person wrote. "I immediately turned the magazine face down," wrote another. "Gross," said a third.
These readers weren't complaining about a sexually explicit cover, but rather one of a baby nursing, on a wholesome parenting magazine - yet another sign that Americans are squeamish over the sight of a nursing breast, even as breast-feeding itself gains more support from the government and medical community.
Babytalk is a free magazine whose readership is overwhelmingly mothers of babies. Yet in a poll of more than 4,000 readers, a quarter of responses to the cover were negative, calling the photo - a baby and part of a woman's breast, in profile - inappropriate.
One mother who didn't like the cover explains she was concerned about her 13-year-old son seeing it.
"I shredded it," said Gayle Ash, of Belton, Texas, in a telephone interview. "A breast is a breast - it's a sexual thing. He didn't need to see that."
It's the same reason that Ash, 41, who nursed all three of her children, is cautious about breast-feeding in public - a subject of enormous debate among women, which has even spawned a new term: "lactivists," meaning those who advocate for a woman's right to nurse wherever she needs to.
"I'm totally supportive of it - I just don't like the flashing," she says. "I don't want my son or husband to accidentally see a breast they didn't want to see."
Another mother, Kelly Wheatley, wrote Babytalk to applaud the cover, precisely because, she says, it helps educate people that breasts are more than sex objects. And yet Wheatley, 40, who's still nursing her 3-year-old daughter, rarely breast-feeds in public, partly because it's more comfortable in the car, and partly because her husband is uncomfortable with other men seeing her breast.
"Men are very visual," says Wheatley, 40, of Amarillo, Texas. "When they see a woman's breast, they see a breast - regardless of what it's being used for."
Babytalk editor Susan Kane says the mixed response to the cover clearly echoes the larger debate over breast-feeding in public. "There's a huge Puritanical streak in Americans," she says, "and there's a squeamishness about seeing a body part - even part of a body part."
"It's not like women are whipping them out with tassels on them!" she adds. "Mostly, they are trying to be discreet."
Kane says that since the August issue came out last week, the magazine has received more than 700 letters - more than for any article in years.
"Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob," wrote Lauren, a mother of a 4-month-old.
The evidence of public discomfort isn't just anecdotal. In a survey published in 2004 by the American Dietetic Association, less than half - 43 percent - of 3,719 respondents said women should have the right to breast-feed in public places.
The debate rages at a time when the celebrity-mom phenomenon has made breast-feeding perhaps more public than ever. Gwyneth Paltrow, Brooke Shields, Kate Hudson and Kate Beckinsale are only a few of the stars who've talked openly about their nursing experiences.
The celeb factor has even brought a measure of chic to that unsexiest of garments: the nursing bra. Gwen Stefani can be seen on babyrazzi.com - a site with a self-explanatory name - sporting a leopard-print version from lingerie line Agent Provocateur. And fellow moms recognized a white one under Angelina Jolie's tank top on the cover of People. (Katie Holmes, meanwhile, suffered a maternity wardrobe malfunction when cameras caught her, nursing bra open and peeking out of her shirt, while on the town with fiance Tom Cruise.)
More seriously, the social and medical debate has intensified. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently concluded a two-year breast-feeding awareness campaign including a TV ad - criticized as over-the-top even by some breast-feeding advocates - in which NOT breast-feeding was equated with the recklessness of a pregnant woman riding a mechanical bull.
There have been other measures to promote breast-feeding: in December, for example, Massachusetts banned hospitals from giving new mothers gift bags with free infant formula, a practice opponents said swayed some women away from nursing.
Most states now have laws guaranteeing the right to breast-feed where one chooses, and when a store or restaurant employee denies a woman that right, it has often resulted in public protests known as "nurse-ins": at a Starbucks in Miami, at Victoria's Secret stores in Racine, Wis., and Boston, and, last year, outside ABC headquarters in New York, when Barbara Walters made comments on "The View" seen by some women to denigrate breast-feeding in public.
"It's a new age," says Melinda Johnson, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for ADA. "With the government really getting behind breast-feeding, it's been a jumping-off point for mothers to be politically active. Mommies are organizing. It's a new trend to be a mommy activist."
Ultimately, it seems to be a highly personal matter. Caly Wood says she's "all for breast-feeding in public." She recalls with a shudder the time she sat nursing in a restaurant booth, and another woman walked by, glanced over and said, "Ugh, gross."
"My kid needed to eat," says the 29-year-old from South Abingdon, Mass. And she wasn't going to go hide in a not-so-clean restroom: "I don't send people to the bathroom when THEY want to eat," she says.
But Rebekah Kreutz thinks differently. One of six women who author SisterhoodSix, a blog on mothering issues, Kreutz didn't nurse her two daughters in public, and doesn't really feel comfortable seeing others do it.
"I respect it and think women have the right," says Kreutz, 34, of Bozeman, Mont. "But personally, it makes me really uncomfortable."
"I just think it's one of those moments that should stay between a mother and her child."
07/27/06 18:23 EDT
Not obscene or gross...
It's about the same amount of boob. It's a crazy world, friends... a crazy world.
I am shocked whenever I don't see a giant breast on the cover of a magazine.
I don't think it is gross at all.
My sister breast fed my niece at my graduation (she had a towel to cover herself). I saw a woman breast fed her kid on the metro.
This same argument was going on 20-30 years ago when I was nursing my kids. And 20 years before that!
Everything old is new again. ;-)
I liked the woman who didn't want her husband or son to have to see a breast that they didn't 'want' to see. I guess she's content for them to stick to online porn... lol
Healthy people don't, IMHO :~) The artificial nature of modern life has made us a little uptight and confused.
I was seated in the waiting area of a busy restaurant last night, when a young mom sat down threw a blanket up over her shoulder and prepared to nurse her baby girl. I just smiled and looked away. Why do so many make such a big deal about the method God created for women to feed their young? I think it is sinful to object and make an issue of it.
Maybe it's really an elbow and not a breast.
Now those are ugly obscene boobs for sure!!
Looks like he's due any day now, but his kid will be taught to suck on the government teat! ;-)
Exhibit A: Patches
I'm not sure what the two pictures have to do with each other.
I find the baby picture beautiful, but in my home, not on a magazine cover.
Have to be a pretty desperate baby to feed off that.
Reminds me of that joke, what do breasts and toy trains have in common? They were both made for kids, but the fathers always want to play with them.
It probably means you've got your neighbor's Newsweek and they've got your Jugs. :~)
"I'm totally supportive of it - I just don't like the flashing," she says.
Flashing? LOL. I have never seen a woman flashing (opening and closing her top suggestively, repeatedly) while breastfeeding. The person making that comment comes across as hysterical.
It isn't flashing to breast feed a baby. Also, she isn't worried about here son and husband seeing a "breast they didn't want to see", she is worried about them seeing a breast SHE doesn't want them to see.
That's funny.... My dad's really into trains :~)
Besides it's not flashing, it's a "wardrobe malfunction."
"Also, she isn't worried about here son and husband seeing a "breast they didn't want to see", she is worried about them seeing a breast SHE doesn't want them to see."
It's all about control, isn't it?
What an incredibly immature view of the world. How did this woman ever manage to get pregnant in the first place - by lying back and thinking of the Alamo? ;)
Besides that picture doesn't even look like a breast - it could just as easily be a (small) part of Ted Kennedy's belly.
You have to be lib to the bone to even write this sentence. Who cares what the "government" thinks about breast feeding?
That's a pretty innocent picture, and an adorable baby. How well I remember that expression on a baby's face at just the same point in the proceedings.
People really are odd and puritanical if they can get upset over this. There is absolutely no need for anyone, male or female, to see anything at all when one is breastfeeding in public. It can be done with such perfect discretion that no flesh shows at all. People who mind a fully-clad woman with a ten-pound bulge in her arms have got a problem.
Only a really creepy pervert would think that a nursing baby is "sexual".
This was the one that cracked me up: "'Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob,' wrote Lauren, a mother of a 4-month-old."
Hence the title of the article on the magazine cover...
The people who want the cops to come save them from the nursing woman at the mall?
I have to feel sorry for her. A cover on a magazine meant for parents of babies who were designed to suckle from mommy...
And she sees in her mind's eye a dirty old man who is acting in a perverted manner.
Some people just cannot be helped. :-(
I feel sorry for her current or future grandchildren. Her children have already been impacted by her strange world view.
I'm gonna guess she's a rather rude person even when she's not breastfeeding :~)
Grow up, ayle Ash, of Belton, Texas.
People behave poorly all the time. In a civilized society, sometimes we just look away and occupy ourselves until it passes.
In a socialist society, whiners call out for new laws. lol
Nursing her child was probably one of the better things that such a loutish woman has done. Most nursing 3 year olds that I've known were/are more polite and circumspect than that woman was. ;-)
A three year old boy is too old to be nursing. What a crass woman.
Hey, leave Star Jones out of this!
Oh wait, that's more than a ten-pound bulge.
I agree. I don't think it's a very attractive picture of the baby or the boob "-), but it's not showing anything that's not on dozens of other general-circulation magazine covers.
You have a knack for combining and simplifying and thereby defining to the perfect core every issue I've ever seen you post about ... and the humor is a hugh plus, I'm series, Laz. ... A degenerating society doesn't like getting mixed messages or being reminded of how far from sane it has devolved.
AOL is typically stirring the pot with their back alley articles.
The company is sick and their "news" is more so.
Consider the source of this article and it in the trash where it belongs.
Oh, well said!
Thank you for your kind words.
I try -- by reducing to absurdity -- to show the absurdity of present-day life.
If I can accomplish it in a single sentence, so much the better.
Besides, chicks dig it.
It's a crazy world when people get upset over
a travel mags depiction of Le Grand Tetons on the cover.
Thanx ... but Laz did it better.
I wonder why the bulk of complainers about breast-feeding in public tend to be other women?
Because the others are men? :~)
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