By now you’ve probably seen this TIME Magazine cover of the woman breastfeeding a child who looks about four (turns out he’s 3).
It’s caused quite a sensation, in part because half this country thinks breastfeeding is disgusting (especially when the child is old enough to request seconds) and the other half thinks the first half is stupid.
As you know, I am solidly in the pro-breastfeeding camp. I, of all people, should have no problem with the media showing images of women breastfeeding. In fact, several years ago I was photographed breastfeeding my daughter for a story in the San Francisco Chronicle. Here’s the proof.
But the TIME photo struck me as simply obnoxious. The cover is such a blatant attempt to pit women against each other. There’s the photo, which is designed to provoke the squeamish (note the defiant stance, and the age of the child). But what really puts it over the top is the aggressive headline. (“Are You Mom Enough?)
Personally, I’m disgusted with the cover, not because of what it says about breastfeeding, but because of what it says about the editors. Really? You people have nothing better to do than try to start another food fight over breastfeeding? (Pun intended.)
I’ve been too irritated to write about it. Then yesterday I saw that MomsRising put out a very reasoned response, so I’d like to share an excerpt here:
What makes TIME’s decision to focus on fanning the flames of the fictional “mommy wars” so utterly shameful is the fact that there are so many real and pressing issues facing America’s mothers right now that aren’t being covered. Issues like the fact that childcare costs more than college in many states, that 80% of low wage workers don’t have a single earned sick day, that women (particularly moms) face rampant pay discrimination, and that over 176 countries have some form of paid family leave, but the U.S. doesn’t. [1, 2, 3, 4]
The question isn’t whether we’re “mom enough,” but whether our culture is prepared to value mothers and families beyond just Mother’s Day. TIME, and other media outlets’ compulsion to frame parents’ collective stress in personal terms, not only misses the reality, but also throws us all off track in working toward common-sense, real, and permanent changes for all American families.
Do you agree? If so, sign this: Tell TIME to cover the real issues that matter to mothers, women, and families.
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I’m curious what you think of the photo on it’s own. If it weren’t for the headline, what would you think?
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Here’s one more thing the editors could cover: the health effects of stress on working parents. Have you noticed the results of this poll I put up several months ago? Go here: What are you on?
The good news: 55% of us do not take anxiety medication. The bad news: 32% of us do.
I’ve left the poll open so if you haven’t answered it yet, please do. I’m planning to write about the results soon.
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Sources from the MomsRising excerpt:
 ”Parents and The High Cost of Child Care: 2010 Update,” National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies.http://action.
 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (July, 2011). Employee Benefits in the United States: Selected paid leave benefits: Access, National Compensation Survey (Table 6). Retrieved 8 November 2011, from http://action.momsrising.org/