Lifestyle & Belief

Time Magazine breastfeeding cover story ignites controversy


Time's controversial cover of a mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old son has stirred up controversy.


Martin Schoeller for Time Magazine

Time Magazine's latest cover story about attachment parenting, which features a photo of a mother breast-feeding her 3-year-old son, has stirred up controversy, as some wonder if the provocative photo "went too far," as one Fox News headline suggested

The cover — which was released ahead of mother's day this Sunday — depicts Jamie Lynne Grumet, a 26-year-old mother based in Los Angeles, wearing a pair of jeans and a blue tank top, which she has pulled down to nurse her son. Both Grumet and her child are standing, with him on a small wooden chair to reach his mother's breast.

The title of the cover story is "Are You Mom Enough?" and explores a method called "attachment parenting," made famous by Dr. Bill and Martha Sears' 1992 treatise "The Baby Book." The parenting style supports practices that include breast feeding for far longer than the six months to a year that most experts recommend, and having children and babies sleep in the same bed as their parents, the New York Post reported

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While some were shocked by the cover, others wondered if the in-your-face representation of breastfeeding would pose a challenge to American views on nursing, the Christian Science Monitor blog Modern Parenthood reported

"Now, kudos, I guess, to Ms. Grumet for putting her face (and other body parts) out there to show that she stands behind her beliefs about this particular Sears-ian tenet," wrote Modern Parenthood's Stephanie Hanes. "But I worry that the provocative nature of the pose will actually obscure some of the real issues surrounding breastfeeding in this country. Because the challenges to nursing – which study after study has shown to be the most healthy way to nourish a baby – are significant in the US." 

Martin Schoeller, the photographer who shot Time's cover, took photos of each mother featured in the story breastfeeding their children, using religious images of the Madonna and Child as inspiration, according to Time's LightBox blog

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“When you think of breastfeeding, you think of mothers holding their children, which was impossible with some of these older kids,” said Schoeller. “I liked the idea of having the kids standing up to underline the point that this was an uncommon situation.”

In a Q&A interview with Time's Healthland blog, cover model Grumet said she wanted people to see her breastfeeding in the hopes of normalizing the parenting style she has espoused.

"There are people who tell me they’re going to call social services on me or that it’s child molestation," said Grumet. "I really don’t think I can reason with those people. But as far as someone who says they’re uncomfortable with this, I don’t think it’s wrong to admit this. But 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." 

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