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Millennium Post

Time to get cheeky!

We could be bang on, alright, if we say Time had gotten downright sleazy. The May issue featured a mom good looking enough to be a model staring defiantly while her three-year-old son suckle her breasts on the cover. What on earth where they thinking, right?

Or we could be way off the mark. If some mothers find it OK to breastfeed their grownup children – and tell the world about it – what does it matter? That Time got cheeky is obvious to see: For chrissake, they have a business to run. The more you react, the better for them. That many copies sold.

But what exactly are we reacting to? That the mother is good looking enough to be a model? Or that in this day and age, when mothers switch to formula just as soon as they come back home from maternity clinic, eager to get back their figures and their lives back, that a three-year-old still suckles his mom's breast nonchalantly?

Not that twitter-o-meter is saying anything clearly. Some titter, finding a topic to express their sense of humour in 140 characters. Some splutter, expressing their outrage. And according to an online poll conducted by Foxnews.com, the question 'Did Time cover cross the line?' met up with 54,471 responses as of 14 May, 5pm. Yes, you guessed it right. Most – 89.38 per cent – said 'it's inappropriate for a general interest magazine'. That's 48,686 votes out of 54,471 votes.

But naysayers are not the going to have the last word in this debate, either. Los Angeles Times' Rene Lynch had come quickly to the defence of
Time
. And of course, the entire genre of print media. She quotes a 'magazine expert' Samir Husni, 'this is a cover that has the entire nation talking. When was the last time you saw a story do that. This is an example of print well done. It's a stroke of genius... the print industry really needed this cover to show they are still the movers and shakers.' According to Husni, Time's cover proves that print can still be king if it steals from digital's playbook  – by becoming the conversation starters (not the followers), choosing relevant, edgy subjects and then tackling them in a visually arresting way.

Fair enough, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But why can't one get rid of the feeling that we are so off the tangent? Why does it feel like as if everyone is jumping into the fray for a slice of their publicity pie?

Why is that no one is pointing out that just as a six-year-old breastfeeding could be construed as 'abnormal', a baby not yet six months old, being denied the most essential nutrition, is not 'normal'. Oh yes, even in the most developed of the world, the US of A, according to Time's controversial cover article, Are You Mom Enough?, things are pretty snafu. Although 75 per cent of US mothers start out nursing their babies, only 44 per cent have stuck with it by the time their child is six months old – and just 15 per cent are breast-feeding exclusively by that point. Definitely not for want of telling. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the US Surgeon General apparently encourage mothers to skip infant formula and breastfeed exclusively for six months.

Come to think of it, why is that breastfeeding in the US of A seems to be a touchy topic? Not so long ago, Gisele Bundchen, the Brazilian model got the brickbats when she went on record with her observation on breastfeeding practice in the US. 'Some people [in the US] think they don't have to breastfeed, and I think, 'are you going to give chemical food to your child, when they are so little?' There should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.' It had created such a furore in 2010, that Bundchen went hastily for a 'rollback' of the comment and mumbled something about not 'being there to judge'.

Forget Jamie Lynne Grumet, Time magazine's cover mother – who incidentally, practises what she preaches, by the way. Listen to what she says. She makes a point, doesn't she? What if the world think it is weird, it is her son who benefits.

As per the estimation of International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) and World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), the organisers of World Breastfeeding Conference 2012 – which incidentally will be in organised in India in December this year – out of the 136 million babies born each year, 92 million are not breastfed exclusively for the first six months as recommended. Although the figure is rather overreaching, without a voluntary and involuntary action break up, even if a small percentage of it was done voluntarily, that sure is a worrying thought, is it not?

Perhaps, shocking or not Jamie Lynne Grumet has a story to tell. Perhaps, shocking tactic or not, Time does have a point. Let's look beyond Grumet's peeping you-know-what and get behind the covers.


TWITTERVERSE

The provocative image is not all that innocent. The evil is lurking somewhere in the horizon to sully the image of motherhood. In these days where women are taught to demand sex, such images are unnecessary. A mother knows when to stop breast feeding her child.
 —@ sk (bangalore)

Congrats to Justin Bieber & Cameron Diaz on their Time Magazine cover! Looking forward to release of your new rom-com ‘Are You Mom Enough?’   
—@mattob34

Can’t believe @Time mag #breastfeeding cover. Teaching kids its ok to stand on the furniture.  
—@jeffmichael11
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