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Thread: What do you think about the reactions to the Time Magazine's breastfeeding photo?

  1. #1

    What do you think about the reactions to the Time Magazine's breastfeeding photo?

    Hi everyone,

    I don't know if you have all seen last week's front cover of the Time Magazine which shows a photo of a lady breastfeeding her 3 year old son with them both looking into the camera.

    I think it's a cute picture - it looks like mum and son have a great relationship and he is obviously comfortable feeding. I'm not quite sure why there is so much apparent controversy over the picture, as reported in this BBC news report. The Washington Post also commented on the front cover in a discussion around what makes this image sensational. Fox news discussed whether the 3 year old was exploited in this photo.

    For me - as a photo of a mother breastfeeding her child I think it's beautiful. I think Fox News do have a point to consider the rights of the child. But sometimes it seems like everyone has an opinion on breastfeeding (particularly extended breastfeeding) whereas practices like cry it out which I believe are unhealthy for the baby are accepted without judgement.

    What are other mum's thoughts on this subject?

    I look forward to reading your responses!


    Last edited by ljmarsden; 22nd May 2012 at 10:46 PM.

  2. #2
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    Jan 2012
    Hi LJ,

    When you were describing this mother breastfeeding her 3 year old, and both looking at the camera, I was picturing a mother sitting down, coddling her 3 year old in her lap, and the camera looking down on them so that both could look into the camera.

    So when I clicked over to the actual picture of the magazine cover, I was actually quite surprised. I haven't read anything about this photo, so my reaction is purely... my reaction.

    First impression was that she came across as a bit on the sensual/sexual side. Not so much in relationship to her child, but just in the way her stance is, the tight jeans, and the way her breast is exposed (shirt pulled down on one side). Remember, I was expecting to see little or "no" breast, with the top pulled up over the breast, and the child's head coddled in mother's arms as he fed.

    I was also expecting to see a child who looked more like 2 (just turned 3) and he certainly looks older, like he's closer to 4. I'm all for children breastfeeding as long as they want to, but I do wonder if this child will now reap some negative consequences of this publicized picture.

    So would I support a mum who quietly excused herself to nurse her 4 or 5 year old in the other room or in the car? Absolutely - in fact I had a co-worker at the preschool where I worked, and she was a substitute teacher. Her daughter was 5 years old and attended preschool there. When it was time for nap or after school, she would take her daughter to the car and breastfeed her. I never saw her, only knew about it. It worked very well for them.

    But my children never wanted to breastfeed past the age of 3 and most stopped just before they turned 3. My sister-in-law told me that one day her 4 year old (who had not been breastfeeding for awhile) decided he wanted to try again. So she let him latch on, and he suckled for a few seconds and decided he was done. Never tried again.

    I'm not sure I felt comfortable with the picture on Time Magazine and I'm concerned that it didn't help the attachment parenting cause. Sadly it may make people who had wanted to breastfeed longer decide that they don't want to, simply because they now see themselves as the picture depicts, which is far different than cuddling a 3 or 4 year old in the privacy of your own home.

    Just my thoughts.

    Warm regards,


  3. #3
    Hi Kate,

    Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. It's interesting to hear other mum's views on this photo, particularly mums who have breastfed.

    I guess part of our reactions/views are to do with our expectations. When I looked at the photo I had already heard all the controversy surrounding it so I was expecting it to be shocked and then surprised that it wasn't (for me). Maybe the same can be said when you see people breastfeeding out and about. If we are expecting it (for example, if you already know the mum breastfeeds a toddler or you are in a baby friendly environmental) then we are less surprised by it.

    However, I think when you are breastfeeding - sometimes a child will want to be fed wherever you happen to be and whoever you happen to be around. I think it's great to support mums to be confident breastfeeders in public and in private.

    I really like this blog response to the Time magazine's photo entitled what kind of women breastfeeds a toddler.

    Thanks again for your response: very thought-provoking.

    Best wishes,


  4. #4
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    I remember clearly being in a restaurant, breastfeeding my baby (probably a 6 month old at the time) and this older gentleman saw that I was cradling my baby in my arms and came over to see her. I was fine with it because I was completely covered (I just lift my shirt up and it covers me and most of baby's face) but when he realized the baby was eating, he quickly turned around and moved away. I was a little embarrassed because I embarrassed him, but I wasn't embarrassed because I was feeding my baby in public. I'd have been fine if he had just stood there and talked to us. But once he realized what I was doing, he was obviously uncomfortable and wanted to be sure we had our "space". Breastfeeding for me, in public, was something I did many, many times, and most of the time, nobody even noticed.

    Breastfeeding a toddler I didn't do in public as much simply because they weren't interested when we were out and about. Nap time - yes. Before bed - yes. First thing in the morning - yes. But I was home for most of those events (I made a point of being home for nap time in the afternoon, and I had a day care in my home, so I was home a LOT). And if a toddler needed to be fed when we were out and about, I just fed in the car before going into the store, or sat to the side if we were at an event. Never had any problems with the general public looking down on it at all.



  5. #5
    Yes I have had these experiences too Kate. I must breastfeed too discretely sometimes (!), because someone will suddenly realise I am feeding (after chatting away for some time) and then apologise and dash away when it doesn't bother me!

    In terms of the Time Magazine photo, I read this weekend that the particular photo that was published was actually an out-take and the ones which the model had intended to have published showed her son cuddled in closer to her - interesting.

    Best wishes,


  6. #6
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    Jan 2012
    Wow - I love that the ones the model had intended to have published showed her son scuddled in closer - very interesting how media tends to gravitate to whatever will bring about the most attention/controversy. This is definitely a good case in point.

    Thanks for the update!


  7. #7
    Hi mums!

    I did saw that controversial Time magazine photo of a sexy mother of around 30 and a son of about 4 years of age. The first time it was shown on TV, I did not really see anything outrageous about it. All I saw was the simplicity of a mother and son figure showing how breastfeeding a toddler is such a delightful scene. The media is a very big influence in the minds and hearts of everyone watching and reading it. Most of the time, what they feed in our minds are easily absorbed, no matter how wrong or right it may be. Also, malicious thoughts and sensuality are too often seen. With these in mind, you will surely find many people finding the picture weird and probably disgusting, if I may say.

    Just sayin',


  8. #8
    I found nothing wrong with the image either, hardly even noteworthy. Just a beautiful moment between a mother and young child. Some of the comments I have read from others when the picture first came out really broke my heart. I do agree that society greatly influences the way we perceive things. It is an incredibly sad reflection on society that breastfeeding a three-year-old child is news, especially controversial news garnering such negative comments and thoughts. =(

  9. #9
    Yes indeed mom2many. Sad times.

    I agree MumO'Three with the huge (in this case, negative) influence the media can have today. Breasts have been so sexualised in our society that many people view breastfeeding itself (the most natural and beautiful way to feed your babies) as sexual.

    I'm hoping that times are changing!

  10. #10
    I do think that times are changing, at least in a slight way. Suddenly natural birth and parenting are becoming far more common and accepted. Despite all the negative responses to the Time ad, I think it definitely opened up a positive line of communication in many respects.

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