05 August 2006

This image was recently displayed on the cover of the magazine Baby Talk. 25% of its readership, it turns out, was outraged.

"Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob," the mother of a four-month-old said.

"I was offended and it made my husband very uncomfortable when I left the magazine on the coffee table."

"I had to rip off the cover since I didn't want it laying around the house."

The article was aimed at the controversy of breast-feeding in public, and it may ease your mind to know that the majority of the mail they received was supportive of their handling of the issue. But still, 25% is a lot to be "outraged" by something like this. Further, the American Dietic Association found in a recent poll that 57% oppose public breastfeeding and 72% think it is inappropriate to show women breastfeeding on television.

The childishness of the quotes above indicates that a lot of people are simply grossed out by seeing a breast. It's hard to argue with someone's personal preferences, but I don't mind people holding on to silly beliefs as long as they don't enforce them against others (breastfeeding is safe as a legal issue in this country).

A possible side-effect of this general public puritanism though is that it may discourage some mothers from breastfeeding when it is most likely the healthiest thing for their babies. The FDA released this report that indicates it is in the best interest of an infant's health to breastfeed for at least one year. Here are a few highlights:
  • Human milk contains just the right amount of fatty acids, lactose, water, and amino acids for human digestion, brain development, and growth.
  • Breast-fed babies have fewer illnesses because human milk transfers to the infant a mother's antibodies to disease. About 80 percent of the cells in breast milk are macrophages, cells that kill bacteria, fungi and viruses. Breast-fed babies are protected, in varying degrees, from a number of illnesses, including pneumonia, botulism, bronchitis, staphylococcal infections, influenza, ear infections, and German measles. Furthermore, mothers produce antibodies to whatever disease is present in their environment, making their milk custom-designed to fight the diseases their babies are exposed to as well.
  • Human milk straight from the breast is always sterile, never contaminated by polluted water or dirty bottles, which can also lead to diarrhea in the infant.


Pistol Van Buren said...

I like to think that the 25% outrage stems from a prudish place or subconscious perversity, for that matter.

The tendency to rely on breastfeeding in privacy points largely to a mother's consciousness of her surroundings, but doesn't address the immediacy of meeting a baby's needs. (Babies have yet to learn 'patience' at this point, you see.)

You simply cannot say, 'Wait baby, mother needs to find a people-less spot for your boob-fest.'

Desmond Morris in his treatise on the human animal touches on the naked ape's hesitancy to display its body though it has the largest penis and mammary glands of its monkey/ape brethren.

What can we cull from Morris that would easily eliminate the breastfeeding in public issue altogether?

Answer: Mandatory Nudity.

Agnost bless this Brave New World

aus blog said...

It amazes me to see just how many PRUDES there are out there.
Breastfeeding is simply carrying out a normal, natural bodily function. A womans breast is there to provide nourishment for her offspring , nothing rude or titalating about that. Maybe prudes are simply people who find themselves having perverce thoughts
when faced with the situation, or at least have a partner or husband that does.

Sarah said...


Dude. There's a still from a NYT video on the page that reads:

'Do not disturb. Moo'