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May 12, 2012

Your Turn: TIME’s Other Breastfeeding Cover

Kosovo Time Breastfeeding cover 1999

Maybe it was the cammo pants that put me over the edge. In any case, I invite your read on this TIME cover from April 12, 1999 and any thoughts you have about how it compares to the “Mom Enough” cover, and/or what it says about media, journalism or photojournalism.

By the way, a hat tip to Patrick Witty, TIME’s International Picture Editor, who tweeted yesterday about the only other TIME breastfeeding cover.

Time breastfeeding  Mom Enough cover 442

(cover 1: Damir Sagolj/Reuters caption: Albanian mother breast feeding her baby while fleeing with other refugees toward the Macedonia border to escape the violence and ethnic cleansing sweeping Yugoslavia. cover 2: Martin Schoeller for TIME)

  • bks

    I’ll contribute $20 to have Mom #2 take a trip to Aghanistan to explain her child-raising theories to an Afghan audience.   Or maybe we can bring Kosovo Mom here, and they can have a panel discussion about the difficulties of parenthood on NPR.


  • tinwoman

    well, that Mom from Kosovo is nursing a baby, not a  kid old enough to be dressed in fatigues and playing with action figures.  That’s the difference. 

    • Catherine McCallum

      From the size of the Albanian mother’s bundle, it’s an older baby, maybe even another toddler.

      Why are we judging the American mom? Because she’s pretty? Because she believes in nursing longer than is comfortable for an American public made squeamish by nearly all natural functions? Because she’s looking at the camera? Because the child’s wearing camo pants? Because Time chose to go with a provocative cover for an article which is guaranteed to be provocative for most of its audience?

      (The camo’s a non-issue. It goes in and out of fashion and has ever since I was a kid. Which was not just yesterday, I’m sorry to say.)

      I can guarantee that this mom gets all kinds of criticism for her choice to nurse her toddler, so her challenging gaze is hardly surprising. The child, by the way, is doing what all nursing babies and children do – looking around while he eats. And Time’s job is to get people to buy the magazine.

      Can’t we just get over it? I remember well the disapproving gazes of strangers when my 18-month-old son clutched a toy car in his hand while I nursed him in the park. Kid’s a PhD candidate now, so apparently he wasn’t harmed. Although, to be honest, his dissertation is on the subject of food production in Britain so maybe there was some sort of lasting impression.

  • Hoot

    #1: Okay, so, how can we really provoke readers? 
    #2: Well, what if we had a mother breastfeeding a child? 
    #1: No, that’s too tame.  Been there, done that.
    #2: What about if the child’s older and standing on a chair?  And, they’re both looking at the camera . . . defiantly.
    #1: Yeah, that will stir the coals [rubs hands together].
    #2: So, what’s the story, again?

  • Marie

    Oh, horrors! There’s an almost-naked breast in use! *throws hands up in sarcastic dismay*  

    The Albanian mother is doing what needs to be done. The American mother is showing off what she chooses to do.  The Albanian mother has an almost desperate expression and grip on her child. The American mother is cuddling her child, but her direct gaze and the hand on hip challenges the viewer to judge her “extreme” nursing.    In general I find it annoying that the natural act of nursing is turned into something shocking or titillating. I fault the editors at TIME.  

  • Shirley

    And, of course, there’s the fact that the Albanian mom — even if her child is a toddler as opposed to a baby — had long not had the option of running to the corner grocery to pick up some nutritious fruits, vegetables and Zwieback for her young one. Not only is she fleeing (on foot), chances are good she was living in an area under siege (and therefore undersupplied, where every unnecessary trip outdoors was also life-threatening) for a very long time before that. Her ONLY choice to keep her child fed, most likely, was breastfeeding.

  • tinwoman

    well, as for why we are criticizing the trendy Mommyhood as a career lady, one comment from another blog said it all…”and next picture is of the boy having a cigarette”.  There’s an age at which this becomes sexually inappropriate and I’d say she’s there. The photo is also sexualized, making this into a “sexy” thing to do–very inappropriate (and please spare me the motherhood is sexy thing–no it’s feckin’ not sexy nor is it supposed to be).

  • tinwoman

     The baby is thickly swaddled, I would totally disagree that’s it’s a school age child she’s got in there.

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