If you think all the chitter chatter and vitriol about Giselle’s breastfeeding photo on Instagram is about her breastfeeding, you are missing the point. She’s feeding her kid. And frankly if La Leche wants to convince new moms to breastfeed, they should use that snapshot as their sole marketing strategy. If women think nursing looks like that, they’ll be breastfeeding their kids on the way to football practice.
I have no problem with women breastfeeding wherever they want. If they don’t want to cover up who cares. I nursed three children and yes they got hungry in front of other people. Personally, I chose to use a cover but that’s because well, my breasts didn’t exactly look like Giselle’s. But physiologically, that’s what boobs are for, so it doesn’t really matter what they look like, for all intensive purposes it’s how they function. So all this nonsense about her covering up is just that—nonsense.
However, Giselle unapologetically exposed while breastfeeding wasn’t the offensive part of the photograph. It was the caption below: #multitasking. Really? So she’s nursing and what, breathing? I mean her eyes aren’t even open so you can’t even count blinking. What I see is a pretty, pretentious supermodel nursing her baby while an entire staff nurses her. I’m actually surprised she doesn’t have someone next to her brushing her teeth.
It’s her job you say? Yeah, I get it. She’s a supermodel. So I guess we can’t fault her for capitalizing off hitting the genetic lottery. But she can be faulted for being so consumed with narcissism that she manipulates something as natural and pure as breastfeeding and muddies it up in a culturally and morally flawed world. Was her point to demonstrate her versatility to transform from Victoria Secret Angel to Mother Earth? Was it to promote breastfeeding? Was it to align herself with us simpletons by showcasing a physiological function? I’m pretty sure she poops too but I doubt we’ll ever see an Instagram of that. My point is I can’t imagine what the photo’s purpose was except for Giselle to position herself for a record number of “likes” in the social media universe and the focus of conversations heard ‘round the mommy and me world.
A few years ago the mother of two made some outrageous comment about how there should be a law requiring all women to breastfeed at least 6 months. Well if I had a team giving me a manicure, curling my thick sun kissed locks and applying make up to my flawless skin—then yes! Show me where I can sign the petition to Congress! But the truth is, nursing isn’t like this. Neither is parenting. Most reasonable people, and even most reasonable members of the Hollywood club would tell you so. But there are a few, like the Brazilian Beauty, who contribute to a culture marinated in unrealistic physical expectations, disingenuous happiness and dangerous materialism.
Parenthood isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t pure bliss. And unlike Giselle’s Instagram picture multi-tasking is not getting a makeover while you’re breastfeeding your child; it’s not holding a Starbucks latte in one hand and your child’s in the other as you stroll out of Whole Foods in matching J Brand jeans and Gucci flats. Children are not accessories and they are not perfect. Neither are their parents, contrary to what Giselle would like us to believe even on her mere three hours of sleep. (As if most parents are getting 8 to 10 a night.) And by the way with that kind of “beauty team” around me, I’m pretty sure I could go an entire week without shuteye. Which brings me to a quick side note about the infuriating caption that states: ”what would I do without my beauty team?” Hmm…seems pretty logical that if she’s giving a shout out to her team shouldn’t the photograph be of them? Of course we all know it isn’t about them, it’s about her. And with that kind of blinding ego, I’m not quite sure the breastfeeding isn’t about her either. Look at me! Look at what I’m doing for my child! Look it what a great parent I am!
A photo can’t capture the most important parts of parenting. Those are far less glamorous. In fact at times they are even hard to stomach. I don’t see many Instagram or Facebook posts of a mother up at 2 in the morning doing a 3rd load of laundry because her 2 year old was throwing up all night. I rarely see YouTube videos of a couple in the ER with their five week old baby who has a fever being told they will be staying there for at least two weeks until the baby has several rounds of intravenous antibiotics. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen “selfies” of a couple crunching numbers at the kitchen table trying to figure out how they are going to budget this month’s groceries and still give their kids a Christmas.
In the same respect, I believe the most wonderful, enlightening and rewarding parts of parenthood cannot be captured in a staged photograph. Sometimes, it’s because at that particular moment you don’t have a camera or iPhone near you; and sometimes it’s because it takes days, weeks or even years to recognize the moments that mean the most. And more often than not, the best parts of parenting—are meant to be absorbed, not shared. And even if you have the mindset to take the picture of that lovely moment, chances are YOU are probably not in it.
Any parent knows the picture of Giselle is not multi-tasking, it’s not even parenting. It’s an imaginary world where people we don’t know anything about are made out to be someone we all want to be. A world where you get pregnant on demand, grow a cute little belly and four weeks post-partum, you’re carrying around that cute little baby with your perfect, cute little body. Where you have the luxury to breastfeed with complete ease, without interruption and the endless support of a staff to handle all the other things life requires. There are so many mothers who carry the burden of crippling self-criticism; and at least some of it can be blamed on false advertising. There is an undeniable pressure for parents, particularly women, to maintain this indestructible sense of bliss. And if they don’t, if they feel worn out or beat up or frustrated at the end of the day or for days on end, there must be something wrong. But there is nothing wrong it’s just hard. It’s really, really hard. It’s hard to take care of your children, yourself, your and the rest of your family and still look and feel good doing it. It’s hard to control your temper with toddlers who can’t control theirs. It’s impossible to exercise the kind of politically correct, B.S. progressive parenting we are all fed by self-described “experts” who imply that any form of traditional parenting (like using the word “no”) is borderline barbaric. And formula? Poison. Non-organic food?…Good luck when your daughter goes all Giselle on you at the age of 10.
For some, the images we see of Hollywood parents making it all look so Camelot may be a welcome escape for people and that’s OK. Just as long as they realize it’s an escape—not an aspiration.