Mother's Day 2012: In Defense of the TIME Breastfeeding Cover


TIME magazine’s latest cover shows a 26-year-old mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old son, illustrating a philosophy known as “attachment parenting.” The cover has set off a firestorm of criticism, gasps, and “tsks tsks” galore.

It is perfectly acceptable for scantily clad women to parade around on the cover of sports and gossip magazines, but show a woman breastfeeding, and suddenly America’s Puritan roots start popping out of the ground. People say they are reacting to the fact the model, Jamie Lynn Grumet, and women like her are breastfeeding their children at such a late age. (Anyone here also thinking about Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon?)

I don’t necessarily have an opinion on attachment parenting. Before I had my 6-month-old daughter, I used to think breastfeeding should end long before babies are  able to verbalize what they want. But the first time my little girl rooted her way to my breast and latched on mere minutes after entering the world (a feat every newborn baby automatically attempts to perform), I knew I was going to love breastfeeding. And I do. Every 3 hours (she’s ravenous) I get to bond with my daughter in a way no one else can. I understand how other moms would want that bonding time to last for as long as possible.

However, even if the child on the cover was 1-year-old — the recommended age at which parents can stop feeding their child breast milk or formula – Americans would still be freaking out. I know this because when I breastfeed my 6-month old in public, the stares and gawks that I get from strangers passing by are enough to shame Mother Teresa herself. And I’m wearing a cover!

Yes, it is an intimate moment people are stealing a glimpse of, but it’s also perfectly natural. Do you freak out when you see a mother kiss her son on the forehead or a father nuzzle his daughter on the nose — both equally intimate?

America, grow up. Boobies are for breastfeeding. Contrary to what adolescent boys and immature men may think, that is their primary purpose. To all you breastfeeding moms out there, I urge you, especially in honor of Mother’s Day, wherever you are: slip out that nip with pride and exercise your God-given right to nurture your child.

For the Victorian-era skittish people out there, simply look away.