This mother finds the photo ‘scandalous’ | Inquirer Lifestyle

This mother finds the photo ‘scandalous’

Anna Aquino Dee’s response to our poll was inadvertently omitted from “How extreme is extreme—Filipino moms speak up” (Inquirer Lifestyle Parenting, May 30).

The poll sought the opinions and reactions of Filipino mothers to Time Magazine’s provocative cover showing a mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. Here it is:

Do you think it’s extreme or normal?

I think the picture itself was extreme. The way they staged, styled and put a condescending headline to it was to me, offensive and bordering on scandalous. And let me make it clear that what I am reacting to was the manner in which they presented Attachment Parenting and not the fact that we have an extended breastfeeder in the photograph.

Breastfeeding a 3-year-old is considered normal but perhaps because they presented it in an almost pornographic fashion, it really bothered me.

Pardon my language but I mean pornographic in the sense that it misrepresents something beautiful and true. That is exactly how I feel about the picture.

Scandalous too, because it is visually assaulting and can lead others to get shocked beyond reason and probably make harsh judgements on an ideal thing such as extended breastfeeding.

There may be children who are still bottle-feeding at age 6 but nobody ever photographs them that way nor do we ever see such behavior on a cover of a magazine.

What occurred here is a blatant disservice to breastfeeding mothers and pure sensationalism and marketing tactics to be able to spark controversy and sell magazines.

Do you believe in breastfeeding beyond 1?

Definitely. And it is so sad that not enough women do this. The standard which is recommended by the World Health Organization, Unicef, American Academy of Pediatrics and just about any authority on health, is that we exclusively breastfeed our children for 6 months and continue on, up until 2 years, or (and this may be a shock to some) until “mutually desired.”

The global age norm for breastfeeding is actually four years old. A child’s immune system isn’t functioning at adult level until age 6. This makes breastfeeding the optimal practice.

Every child weans at his/her own pace… some earlier than others. It is not abnormal to go beyond 2 years of age.

Weaning can be a long and gradual process. We should be in no rush to move on to the next stage because no matter how you look at it, breastfeeding is total self-giving and the benefits are too tremendous to overlook.

So why the need to graduate from it prematurely only to succumb to what a formula-feeding society deems as acceptable?

It is as personal as one’s faith and you cannot dictate how and what a person believes. Why can’t the same respect be extended to someone who decides to breastfeed extendedly or practice attachment parenting?

At the end of the day, we are all just doing our part to raise our families the best way we can. We need to be able to choose what we feel and know works for our own families.

Other comments

This controversy has caused me to ponder a few things and allow me to make a few points:

Breastfeeding benefits are cumulative—the longer you breastfeed, the more profound and lasting the benefits you reap. For instance, the reduction in cancer risks and even immunity to certain illnesses.

Breastfeeding is not just nutrition. It is nurturing. It is a parenting tool. Breastfeeding communicates to our children in a manner in which they are able to digest (pardon the pun) love and security.

We should really be focusing on empowering mothers and families instead of starting mommy wars and making people feel guilty about their choices.