A Time magazine cover story that shows a mother breast-feeding her 3-year-old son is drawing criticism for breaking social taboos.
The story has drawn many critics on social media, and from noted celebrities such as actress Alyssa Milano. The controversy stems from the graphic nature of the photo, and from concern from some that the child in the picture is too old to be breast-feeding.
Milano tweeted that she feels the cover “is exploitive and extreme.”
“You missed the mark,” the actress wrote. “You’re supposed to be making it easier for breastfeeding moms.”
The picture on the Time cover shows a 3-year-old boy standing on a chair to nurse on his mother’s exposed breast.
Parenting expert Joani Geltman says she isn’t surprised that people are upset about the cover.
“People have an issue with nursing in public anyway, even with an infant. Here they add a 3-year-old child when most children are weaned between 6 months and a year,” Geltman says. “People are up in arms simply because it depicts such an intimate act between a mother and child.”
The cover story is about “attachment parenting” a trend that,Time reports, has been on the rise over the past two decades.
Attachment parenting includes extended breast-feeding, co-sleeping and “baby wearing,” in which infants are physically attached to their parents by slings.
“To me, the whole point of a magazine cover is to get your attention,” Time‘s managing editor, Rick Stengel, said in an interview with Forbes. “From the moment that we started talking about this story as a cover possibility, it was like I couldn’t get out of the meetings. There was so much opinion and passion about it and discussion. What that told me is, boy, this is a story that people care a lot about.”
Stengel said he hopes stores don’t cover the magazine or refuse to carry it altogether.
“I would hope they wouldn’t cover it up in any way,” Stengel says. “It’s certainly a possibility.”