Did I see what I just think I saw?
That will be a common reaction this week as people pass newsstands and catch a glimpse of the new Time magazine cover.
To illustrate a story on attachment parenting, Time features a photo of an attractive model-type, hand-on-hip, gazing confidently into the camera. Her shirt is tugged down under her left breast and her almost-4-year-old son is nursing.
The double-take action is likely to be on par with the famous and shocking-at-the-time Vanity Fair cover photo of a naked and pregnant Demi Moore in 1991.
Jamie Lynne Grumet, the woman featured on Time’s cover, is a California mother and proponent of attachment parenting, the philosophy that espouses, among several highly charged parenting practices, on-demand and extended breastfeeding.
The attachment parenting debate has gotten a new jolt from the recently published challenge to it, “Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women,” by Elisabeth Badinter.
What people will talk about after they see the magazine is probably not that debate.
They’ll be talking about Grumet and about breastfeeding.
Grumet is a 26-year-old, stay-at-home mother who home schools and blogs — often posting pictures of herself nursing. She told Time that her mother nursed her until she was 6.
When asked if she remembered breastfeeding, Grumet told Time writer Kate Pickert that she did.
What was the memory like?
“It’s really warm. It’s like embracing your mother, like a hug. You feel comforted, nurtured and really, really loved. I had so much self-confidence as a child, and I know it’s from that. I never felt like she would ever leave me. I felt that security.”
Grumet said she posed for the cover with a purpose. She wants to make extended breastfeeding publicly acceptable.
“ … as far as someone who says they’re uncomfortable with this, I don’t think it’s wrong to admit this. But people have 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,” Grumet told Time
See it, they will.
But will the cover’s shocking — and disturbingly sexy — depiction help or hurt the push to make breastfeeding more publicly acceptable?
So often, mothers who nurse in public (much less publicly than Grumet) are labeled as exhibitionists. Each time I’ve written about the right to publicly breastfeed, the comments section is deluged by readers who say women should nurse in private and those who do so in public must be hoping their exposed breast will be seen.
This, of course, is untrue. Sometimes a baby needs to be fed here and now.
That said, Grumet and her son certainly seem in the photograph to be basking in a spotlight, not their own warm embrace.
With this image, Time has presented those of us who support breastfeeding with a challenge.
Can public breastfeeding go too far?
What do you think?
Is the cover objectionable? Or will it, ala Demi Moore, make Americans more open to different parenting choices and experiences?