Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's Time to Talk About the TIME Cover

As my good friend WW would say, Get Serious.  It's time, once again, to talk about extended breastfeeding thanks to the latest edition of TIME magazine.  Last Thursday, the new TIME came out and all the media outlets were (and still are) buzzing about the cover photo.  Within hours of the cover's public release, I was receiving emails, text messages, Facebook wall posts and carrier pigeon mail suggesting that I discuss the cover on NSB.  It was hysterical and greatly appreciated.  Sometimes my creative juices simply don't flow, so I genuinely love post suggestions.  And, like in this case, when suggestions for a single topic come in droves, it also helps me understand what's hot.

And here's the close up...

While I don't particularly enjoy writing about extended breastfeeding (remember my twitter fight on the subject?), I'm willing to share my non-expert opinion when the moment strikes.  So, once again, let's get serious.

I first saw the above image on Morning Joe, my weekly a.m. ritual.  My first reaction was "woah" accompanied by a need to flip the channel (I'm being honest here, not intending to offend).  My first full thought, which was admittedly super cynical, is that the mom on the cover is in amazing shape and I wondered whether her motivation for extended breastfeeding is the weight loss benefits.  For those who don't know, breastfeeding burns calories.  I'm talking hundreds of calories.  There's a Sex in the City episode in which Miranda's co-worker breastfeeds her 5-year-old because she doesn't want to get back into a gym routine.

I haven't read the TIME article, but I have read a lot of the support and backlash that it has received.  And there's a lot on both ends.  First, I think that the majority (from both sides of the fence) found the cover image to be shocking, if not exploitive.  I also think most agree that was the point - get people talking.  So, well done TIME, mission accomplished.  I have no doubt that magazine sales sky rocketed for this month.

Next, do I have anything useful to say about the substance of the article?  Hmmm.  Not really because, again, I didn't read it.  But I'm going to attempt an opinion anyway.  The premise of the article is that extended breastfeeding is part of Attachment Parenting.  I had never heard the term "attachment parenting" so I'm going to assume that some of you haven't either and define it as best I can.  Attachment Parenting is a parenting style that aims to foster a relationship between a child and a primary caregiver so that normal social and emotional development can occur (thanks Wikipedia).  To me, this sounds like a run-of-the-mill parenting skill - bond with your child.  I dug deeper and learned that attachment parenting encourages a number of specific ways in which the parent/child relationship should be fostered, one of which includes extended breastfeeding.

I'm not sure how you feel after reading the above paragraph, but it didn't get me any closer to feeling comfortable with the TIME cover.  It did, however, help me to think of extended breastfeeding as a parenting style, just like forms of discipline and rules about picking your nose.  And when it comes to parenting styles, there are infinite theories and experts (many of which conflict).  So, in my non-expert and highly humble opinion, the lesson to be learned here is to each her own.  Each parent can (and should) choose a style that works best for the parent and for the child.  Maybe the style will be guided by the tenets of Attachment Parenting or maybe the style will be guided by something else (i.e. gut instinct, Oprah, etc.). 

It's like this: New Yorkers love to talk about how to get around.  There's a constant comparison of this highway to that thruway - she takes the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, he takes the FDR, I always avoid the Major Deegan.  Everyone thinks their route is the best, but who really knows.  At the end of the day, there are many ways to get from Brooklyn to the Bronx.  And there are many ways to raise a socially and emotionally normal child.

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