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Friday Roundup: Is it TIME to change these attitudes?

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Last month, Jamie Lynn Grumet posted an inspiring, somewhat controversial piece on the BlogHer network, titled “10 Things Breastfeeding Advocates Need to Stop Saying.”  Yesterday, Jamie Lynn wound up being the center of another controversy, with touches of inspiration and heapings of judgment. She’s the mom on the cover of TIME breastfeeding her three year old.

In her BlogHer piece, Jamie Lynn discussed how she feels that some of the more judgmental statements from breastfeeding advocates lead to a backlash of criticism against those who choose and succeed to breastfeed:

I only judge moms who have never tried to breastfeed.How about don’t judge at all?

Let’s make it clear, Jamie Lynn did not design the cover for TIME. She had little to do with the article. And she certainly didn’t pick the featured headline “Are You Mom Enough.”

Those were all choices of the magazine’s production team. I doubt even the article author had much say with respect to that headline or the cover photo chosen (for more great photos of extended breasteeding, see the full shoot, here)

Jamie Lynn says she wanted people “ 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. That’s what I’m hoping. I want people to see it.”

Unfortunately, the headline and the way the cover photo is posed, has drawn more judgment and controversy. People have been reacting strongly to the image, which is not your typical breastfeeding photo. The general public has had a lot to say, revitalising the ridiculous “how old is too old” debate.

But what’s turned off a lot of mothers is the headline. Lisa Belkin posts on Huffington Post that no, she is not “mom enough:”

“Breastfeeding is not a macho test of motherhood, with the winner being the one who nurses the longest. In fact there ARE no macho tests of motherhood. Motherhood is — should be — a village, where we explore each other’s choices, learn from them, respect them, and then go off and make our own.”

What’s unfortunate is that this reflects exactly what Jamie Lynn herself has said:

“There seems to be a war going on between conventional parenting and attachment parenting, and that’s what I want to avoid. I want everyone to be encouraging. We’re not on opposing teams. We all need to be encouraging to each other, and I don’t think we’re doing a very good job at that.”

And, unfortunately, the article itself, about the growth of the attachment parenting movement and the unique social significance of it to American mothers today has been lost in the hulabaloo over a provocative photo and a provoking headline.

TIME could’ve done better here. But judging from the reactions, we can all do better.

Friday Roundup: Is it TIME to change these attitudes?


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