When I saw the cover of the May 21 issue of Time, my instant reaction was "Eeew. That's just not right."
An odd reaction, for someone who has gone on the record in support of so-called "extended" nursing.
To parse my knee-jerk reaction, I started by reading what Martin Schoeller, the photographer who shot the now-famous (or should I say ubiquitous) cover, had to say. Schoeller's inspiration, he says, came from images of the Madonna and Child—with one significant twist: "When you think of breast-feeding, you think of mothers holding their children, which was impossible with some of these older kids," Schoeller is quoted as saying. "I liked the idea of having the kids standing up to underline the point that this was an uncommon situation."
I scoff at that statement. I am fully capable of holding my (long-weaned) 7-year-old in my arms, Madonna-style. Further, since the biblical age of weaning is generally considered to be around age 3 (although this is disputed, with some scholars saying as young as 2 and other saying as old as 12) the Madonna almost definitely nursed the Child when he was walking and talking. Lastly, all it takes is a quick perusal of UNICEF's statistics on global breast-feeding to see that nursing a child who is capable of standing is far from "uncommon."
But to get back to my initial reaction: My response stemmed more from the intentionally provocative nature of the picture, than from the subject matter itself. The blond-haired, skinny-jeaned Jamie Lynne Grumet (who comes across as intelligent and well-spoken in interviews) poses with her top down, nursing her tall, camo-clad son, whose sneakers look as big as mine. It's provocative, to be sure. In the words of "Mr. Magazine" Samir Husni, as quoted in the ...1
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