No big deal, she was just doing her job – on the floor of Parliament.
When Elle Australia recently debuted their June cover on Instagram featuring model Nicole Trunfio breastfeeding her son, the reaction was “overwhelmingly positive.” However, the magazine has since come under fire after choosing to only include the cover in a subscribers email and run with a safer version for newsstands.
Hitting the streets this morning, the new magazine cover sees the 29-year-old mother fully clothed and holding her sleeping son, Zion. Initially, what was a powerful message that according to the magazine’s editor “enabled us to contribute to a necessary conversation around normalising breastfeeding,” is now being overshadowed by a creative decision or as the publication argues a “beautiful bonus.”
In an article published on Elle.com.au, editor Justine Cullen wrote: “Yes, it was a commercial decision to run it on subscriber issues only. Magazines are a fantastic platform for being able to bring issues to light and take a stand, but ultimately, this is still a business. It’s still my job to sell magazines.
“A cover is how we do that, and for that reason, as the editor, every month you try to put forward a cover you think will appeal to the widest possible audience.”
Social media has since turned into a soapbox, with many arguing that Elle has in fact sent a negative message about breastfeeding in public by making it only available to a select few, those who are predominantly women. Cullen defends her decision, however, and pointed out in the post that it could spell disaster for the magazine if too many people complained.
“In an ideal world no one would have an issue with seeing breastfeeding on the cover of a magazine. But it’s not an ideal world,” she said. “Supermarkets are where we make a large proportion of our sales. Not everyone walking through a supermarket is our target demographic, nor are they all going to be understanding of the message behind this cover.
“If enough of those people complained about this cover and it was pulled from the shelves – or worse, if we were made to put a sticker over the part of the cover deemed offensive – it would spell disaster.”
Even if the issue was to be pulled from newsstands, one has to ask: would that have actually been so bad considering the amount of backlash the magazine is now getting?
On Thursday Trunfio took to Facebook to clarify her intentions with the breastfeeding cover image and asked that people “take this for what it is” and “let us normalise breastfeeding.” She then went on to say: “I’m so proud of this cover and what it’s stands for… Thank you to ELLE for being so bold and making such an encouraging, positive and healthy statement.”
So, in another bold move, has Elle Australia in fact made an unhealthy and discouraging statement by refusing to run the image on public stands? Cullen disagrees: “The idea of getting lambasted for doing something good but not doing it enough makes no sense to me…
“If we’re not willing to throw our entire business behind a message, does that mean we shouldn’t make the statement at all? That seems extreme and redundant.”
What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.
Image via Elle Australia and Daily Mail
It was last Monday, when a friend in Dallas posted a rather shocking message on Facebook. From the words she had chosen to compose the post, I knew she was dreadfully disturbed. She wrote: “I am embarrassed and exasperated. How can someone have the guts to come up to me and stop me from feeding my own child in my own car? Who the hell gave him the authority to walk straight up to me and give me these shitty orders? Is it a crime to feed my baby? All I was doing was breastfeeding my child in my bloody fucking car. If he finds it so provocative and annoying, he better go f**k himself.”
A security guard outside a grocery store had stopped her from breastfeeding her six-month-old, saying it was not allowed in public and that “she shouldn’t create a scene”. She was so shocked she stopped instantly. It was only when she returned home, she realised the humiliation she had been put through. When she couldn’t put up with it any longer, she decided to share it with her mother and some close friends, some of whom asked if she had been exposing too much.
“I was completely covered,” she insisted. I ask, what is so strange or mortifying about breastfeeding in public that impedes men and many women to settle over a reciprocated conclusion? Since when has having food become taboo. After all, it’s all about feeding your helpless, hungry child when it needs to be fed. Isn’t it as simple as any adult stepping into a restaurant when hunger calls? Have you ever thought about taking your meal inside a toilet or a private area? Why should your baby, then.
I advised my friend to do exactly what an Australian mother of two did this Friday at The Children’s Hospital in Westmead, Sydney, where she was stopped from breastfeeding her sick son in the children’s lunch area. A mother’s outrage, a nurse in protest and media coverage of the incident forced the hospital administration to apologise a few hours later. I tried to encourage her to be as audacious as this mother and retaliate. I suggested she must file a harassment complaint against the security guard and ensure that he be charged for the mental agony he had caused her and for depriving her child of her right to be fed.
After all, it’s not illegal to breastfeed in public. In fact, most countries, including Australia and the United States, protect a woman’s right to breastfeed in any place, public or private. Under some state laws, stopping a women from nursing in public or forcing her to cover up is a violation of her civil rights, allowing her to exercise her legal rights to sue for damages in a court of law.
What I find more interesting and amusing, however, is when my friends with children give me what-to-expect-as-a-new-mum advice. Arranging alternatives for breastfeeding somehow makes it to the top of the list. “There would be instances when you wouldn’t be able to breastfeed, for instance in public,” they warn me. But, who decides on that after all? Doesn’t it work according to when the baby needs it? I had not made up my mind about it until I came across the When Nurture Calls campaign, designed by art students at the University of North Texas. This thought-provoking series of advertisements shows mothers breastfeeding in unhygienic, cramped public bathrooms with punchlines such as ‘private dining’ and ‘will you eat here?’ making the viewer rethink about the entire concept of breastfeeding.
The irony is the sexualizing of female breasts that encumbers a woman’s moment of nurturing and connecting with her child into something intimate. But sadly, it’s not just the men who do it, it’s also the women. Luckily, in an attempt to reinforce the beauty of the moment, some women in Atlanta are trying to break this taboo by taking ‘selfies’ while breastfeeding or photographing other women while nursing. After all, the only way to break a taboo is to make people see you do it.
Seeing these little angels enjoy their most favorite time of the day, safe and sound in their mother’s laps gave me goose bumps, and a tear or two. I’ve made up my mind. I will not hesitate to breastfeed my child in public. Will you?
Image via todaysparent.com/baby/breastfeeding/10-tips-for-breastfeeding-in-public
By Ayesha Hasan