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Model on Cover Doesn't Normalize Breastfeeding

Last week, the Internet went crazy over the magazine cover that featured a breastfeeding mother on its cover.

"Breastfeeding model causes a stir!" exclaimed one headline. "Nicole Truffino has made a bold statement on the cover of Elle," says another.

Apparently, the stylish brains behind the operation explained that the shot wasn't exactly planned. "This wasn't a contrived situation: Zion needed a feed, Nicole gave it to him, and when we saw how beautiful they looked we simply moved her onto the set," explained the magazine's editor-in-chief Justine Cullen. "It was a completely natural moment that resulted in a powerful picture." (Side note: I totally have my doubts about how natural a picture like that can be. Maybe the feed was natural, but my guess is that they had to work pretty hard to stage that "natural" breastfeeding pose. I highly doubt the babe is actually eating in the picture; although I realize that's not really the point, let's be real. You can't just hold a naked baby to your breast all day long while striking a pose with your hair swept back and not have it "contrived.")

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But back to the point—I know because I'm a mom and I happen to have breastfed a baby or two or four, I'm supposed to be fawning over the fact that a mainstream magazine decided to stick a beautiful woman feeding her baby on their cover (read: sales), but nope, I'm not impressed.

You know what's impressive? The millions of moms who are feeding their babies, with or without media acceptance, each and every day. We don't need the fashion industry (totally trustworthy, by the way) to make breastfeeding acceptable and normal, under the conditions that it is glamorous and beautiful and somehow benefits other people besides our babies.

The truth is, a breastfeeding model on a magazine cover won't "normalize" breastfeeding.

Do I see a bold move toward "normalizing" breastfeeding because some fashion industry leaders and a photographer decided to capitalize on a beautiful model who happens to be lactating?

No. I see an opportunity where a company thought they could make some money.

Do I see a "statement" being made about the beauty of breastfeeding?

Again, no. Sure, breastfeeding can be beautiful, but it sure as heck doesn't always look like that model depicts. Breastfeeding can be hard, hard physical work; it can be painful, mentally excruciating and decidedly unglamorous. (Mastitis and boobs leaking at the wrong minute, I'm looking at you.)

Do I think it's great that breastfeeding become more mainstream? Well, sure, of course. But I don't need a magazine cover to accomplish that for us everyday average moms.

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The truth is, a breastfeeding model on a magazine cover won't "normalize" breastfeeding. But a breastfeeding mom sitting next to me at Starbucks while I'm typing away who's able to feed her baby without even thinking if she will offend/horrify/otherwise affect anyone?

Now, that would be progress.

Image via Elle

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