Angelina Jolie breastfeeding photo stirs controversy
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Brad Pitt took a breathtakingly beautiful photograph of Angelina Jolie breastfeeding one of her twin babies. The black and white photo, which will grace the cover of W Magazine in November, shows a happy and smiling Jolie in her bed and nightgown. The top buttons of her gown are undone allowing her baby to nurse and revealing a side shot of her breast. The most striking part of the photo is a sweet, tiny baby hand that reaches up, strategically covering her nipple.
Believe it or not, in the age of Maxim Magazine, this utterly maternal image is stirring controversy. Apparently, there is worry that Jolie's photo is "sexualizing" the act of breast feeding and that it may detract from what would otherwise be a positive message about the benefits of breast milk. According to critics, "every man who sees that photo will see those breasts as sexual." I'm not a guy, so I can't really speak to what men will think when they see a picture of a mother nursing her infant. But I suspect that whatever inappropriate arousing it may cause will be vastly outweighed by the good it will do toward normalizing breastfeeding in America. Just as importantly, it may inspire those of us, like me, who have babies that are nursing, to keep it up. For mothers of twins, Jolie's commitment will be especially encouraging.
Breastfeeding is one of the most under appreciated acts of love and service a mother does. Too often, friends, family and spouses are unaware of just how much nursing takes out of a woman. Even I sometimes find myself wondering why I'm so tired at the end of the day. Hello? I have five kids and I'm nursing! Moms who are breastfeeding need support and encouragement (as well as those incredibly awesome Bebe au Lait nursing covers!). After five kids, I'm an old pro who nurses comfortably in public at meetings, restaurants and in church. Usually nobody realizes I'm doing it, but if they did and didn't like it, I wouldn't give a hoot. But when I was a new mom, I felt terribly self-conscious nursing in public and I believe that images of credible, and yes, beautiful celebrities nursing their own babies would have given me a bit more confidence in those early days. So thank you, Angelina, for helping our over-sexed culture get over it's strange reactions and aversions to women doing what nature intended for them to do with their breast.