Photo credits: hipmamazine.com
Hip Mama has discovered that their choice for a cover photo was too much for their vendors to bear. The cover is a striking self-portrait of photographer Ana Alvarez-Errecalde and her preschool-aged son, both partially clad in a Spiderman costume as they share a nursing moment. Vendors have declared that they won't display the magazine on newsstands, and while subscribers will receive the magazine featuring the original cover, the newsstands will display a censored one. What on earth?
The breastfeeding controversy and media
Breastfeeding remains unfortunately controversial, whether it's the debate over what feeding method is best for children to whether or not women should be able to feed their kids in public (here's a hint: They should). The controversy doesn't stop with a mother's choice, however, as breastfeeding photos are constantly reported and removed from social media platforms, most notably Facebook.
Print magazines are not immune, as Redbook discovered back in 1997 when they featured a cover of Pierce Brosnan and his family. Interestingly, they published two versions of the cover — one traditional family photo for subscribers, and a breastfeeding image for the newsstands. BabyTalk also got chastised for the breastfeeding cover they ran in 2006.
Hip Mama is experiencing backlash to the cover of issue 55, set to hit the stands Mother's Day, but the solution they've come to is the opposite of Redbook. Vendors objected so vocally to the breastfeeding image that they had intended to use that the magazine was asked to run another cover, or they wouldn't be put out for sale. While editor/publisher Ariel Gore initially refused to consider a new cover or a censorship "dot" over the mama's breasts, she received feedback from editors and contributors and agreed with them that a censored issue is better than no issue at all. While subscribers will receive the uncensored version, news vendors will be shipped magazines with a dot-shaped sticker over the "offensive" portion of the portrait.
Censored breastfeeding in the modern era
It continues to amaze me that breastfeeding continues to be such a huge issue that it is often considered offensive at best, and abusive and pornographic at worst. While breastfeeding images appear in art dating back centuries, it's only when modern mothers are depicted nursing their kiddos that folks get bent out of shape.
— which isn't the case.
As Rachelle, owner of Unlatched, a breastfeeding advocacy page on Facebook, says, "When used for their biological purpose to feed and comfort a child of any age, people get upset. It's ridiculous to react in such a way to something that's natural and normal. By censoring images like this, it makes breastfeeding look like it's wrong and needs to be hidden — which isn't the case. Breastfeeding needs to be seen everywhere and society needs to see images of normal motherhood. Many of us moms play dress up with our kids and breastfeed superheroes and princesses just like this magazine cover."
I couldn't agree more. People are making a stink about several factors, such as the mom is topless, the child is "too old" and also he is fondling her other breast. I also suspect the fact that the child is a boy makes many uncomfortable. To me, this photo is real life. Kids do nurse past infancy, moms and kids play dress up and kids do twiddle the other breast. It's realistic and depicts how the nursing relationship changes as a child grows.
And I think it's beautiful.