Thursday, May 10, 2012

What does the Face of Breastfeeding Really Look Like?

In seeing the pictures from TIME magazine this morning and knowing that this spread is intentionally designed to create a stir, I was still amazed by the ability of the (I’m sure highly paid) designers and photographers to give these breastfeeding mothers such a harsh look. That is an amazing trick. I have to wonder how the mothers in the magazine were asked to pose when they stood in front of the camera with their children.  Were they asked to look strong… defiant…determined? I doubt that the harsh faces we see are those that their own children see very often.

Those of us who live in the real world know that mothers’ faces are not often harsh. Ok, maybe when their toddlers have dumped the dog food on the rug (again), or when their 7-year-olds have lost their homework (again) or when their teenagers “find” a ding in the back door of their cars (again). But, outside of those situations, mothers’ faces most often hold different expressions. They might be (in no particular order) warm, curious, tired, concerned, knowing, laughing, proud, determined, loving, vulnerable, wistful, or sometimes silly. But not harsh.
The mothers that I see are trying to do the best they can with the information and the resources that they have at hand, whether or not they are breastfeeding their babies. The mothers that I see reach out to each other with compassion and a depth of understanding that comes from facing common challenges.  Regardless of how you feel about the content of the article or of the choices made by the women, the pictures and headlines used by the magazine are intended to elicit a fiery, passionate, and profitable response. 

The TIME staff intends that the pictures will create hits, tweets, updates, shares, blog posts (sigh), rants, and conversations. I’m sure that they will be wildly successful. But those of us who live in the real world have a choice about how we will react.  We can let them color our view of motherhood, or not. We can let them manipulate us into thinking that infant feeding choices “classify” women into one type of mother or another, or not.  I vote not.

No comments:

Post a Comment