Every time a celebrity talks about breastfeeding her new baby, I get excited. Whether it is actress Evangeline Lilly on the Jay Leno show, or ex-Spice girl Victoria Beckham quoted in People magazine, it makes me smile. Does it really matter if Celine Dion or Jessica Alba are breastfeeding their babies?
Like it or not, celebrity America garners a lot of attention. Whether they are selling movies, TV shows, make up or gossip magazines, they are the pulse of popular America. And we pay attention to them: what they say, what they wear, what they do.
Victoria Beckham announced earlier this year that she was planning to breastfeed her fourth child (a daughter after three sons), saying she wanted “everything natural and perfect for my little girl”. Celine Dion explained on Oprah that her grueling performing schedule must work around breastfeeding her four-month-old twin sons.
Yet when People magazine ran a small photo of model Miranda Kerr breastfeeding her son Flynn, opinions were dramatically divided. One reader wrote, “This crosses the line and makes mother/child bonding provocative.” Another reader wrote, “Way to go, Miranda Kerr, for showing that breastfeeding is not only beautiful, but natural.” Is it any wonder that American women have second thoughts about breastfeeding?
We know that other cultures make the shift and are able to see breastfeeding for what it is: a way to feed babies. Women around the world breastfeed their babies wherever they are, without thinking twice about offending someone or worrying if a tiny bit of skin is visible.
This is just the reason that we need more actresses like Evangeline Lilly showing up on Jay Leno looking absolutely beautiful (and sexy) and talking about breastfeeding. It’s one more way that we can incorporate breastfeeding into today’s culture, making it acceptable and popular. One more way we can bring it out of the closet and into the living room.
If we are going to provide a supportive environment for breastfeeding mothers, it will come from all aspects of our society: from the work place, the celebrity world, our health care providers, the insurance industry and our next door neighbor. When a mother nursing her baby does not warrant a second look or a comment, and when breasts may be provocative, but breastfeeding is normal, we will have finally created an environment that allows women true choice in how they feed their babies.