What do you think of Time magazine's breastfeeding mom cover?
All it took for an 89-year-old newsmagazine to capture the social media world’s attention, was to place a young woman breastfeeding her 3-year-old son on the cover.
That may be the real lesson behind the online furor over TIME magazine’s latest cover, featuring 26-year-old mother Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her son while he stands on a chair.
Grumet actually appears in the cover story on attachment parenting guru Dr. William Sears – who advocates a method including extended breast feeding – prompting magazine expert Samir Husni to declare the image a success, already.
“Our society’s attention span is getting shorter and magazines are screaming for our attention,” said Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, noting the image wasn’t faked like rival Newsweek’s cover photo of Princess Diana if she lived to age 50. “This is not a made up image. I commend them for the choice, because it will stop everyone.”
It does seem obvious that Newsweek and Time, once among the magazine world's most venerated titles, have now taken to displaying attention-grabbing images, aimed mostly at American audiences.
Why for example, does the mom Time spotlights have to be model-pretty, clad in tight clothing? Doesn't that unnecessarily sexualize a story that should be about raising children?
"Whether newsstands will display it is the big question tomorrow...we can be a very Puritan country," said Husni, who laughed when told the international edition of Time features the new president of France.
"We've always been self-contained in America," he said. "You put the prime minister of Turkey on the cover in America and 99.9 percent of the readers wouldn't even know who that is. Here, we tease you with the cover, give you something you can relate to and hopefully you will read the interview with the prime minister of Turkey inside."
Here’s what some people said online:
-- Actor Alyssa Milano: “Time no! You missed the mark! You're supposed to be making it easier for breastfeeding moms. Your cover is exploitive & extreme.”
-- MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinsky: “I'll tell you why it bothers me. It bothers me because it's a profile of Bill Sears.”
-- New York Times media critic David Carr: “Will it be worth the therapy bills down the line?”
-- Adam Clark Estes on The Atlantic Wire: “It's a bit of a jawdropper …We had to blink, rub our eyes, shake our heads and look again, not just because of the child-sucking-on-mother's-breast image but because the title above it did not say Newsweek.”