Time Magazine’s Controversial Breastfeeding ‘Model Mum’ Cover Shocks Readers

Time Magazine’s upcoming cover, featuring a mother breastfeeding her almost-four-year-old son, has sparked lively debate at leading UK modelling agency Models Direct today.

Time Magazine's controversial breastfeeding cover
Time Magazine's controversial breastfeeding cover

Time Magazine‘s upcoming cover, featuring a mother breastfeeding her almost-four-year-old son, has sparked heated debate at leading UK modelling agency Models Direct today.

The cover shows a child, who is four next month, attached to the breast of his model-like mum Jamie Lynne Grumet while standing on a chair – presumably because he is now too big to be nursed in her arms. The words ‘Are You Mom Enough?’ frame Grumet’s defiant hand-on-hip pose and the cover has provoked reactions of outrage from many online observers. Grumet’s styling has also been questioned by some who say that the entire concept sexualises breastfeeding and is verging on child-abuse.

Actress Alyssa Milano is one of many who expressed outrage at the way that Time has approached discussion of ‘attachment parenting’ this month: “@Time, no! You missed the mark! You’re supposed to be making it easier for breastfeeding moms. Your cover is exploitative & extreme.” Model Joanna Krupa went further in saying: “Time magazine cover is pretty disturbing! Breast feeding a 3yr old is wrong!”

But Grumet has no regrets, suggesting in the interview inside that her intention is to normalise the breastfeeding of older children. “There are people who tell me they’re going to call social services on me or that it’s child molestation. I really don’t think I can reason with those people. [They] have to realise this is biologically normal,” she said, “The more people see it, the more it’ll become normal in our culture. That’s what I’m hoping. I want people to see it.”

The 26-year-old mum of two was apparently breastfed herself until the age of six and has very fond memories of the experience, believing it to be something which helped her to gain self confidence growing up: “It’s really warm. It’s like embracing your mother, like a hug. You feel comforted, nurtured and really, really loved. I had so much self-confidence as a child, and I know it’s from that.”

However, many question her decision to be photographed in this pose and feel that the child pictured – who Models Direct have not named – could suffer socially as a result of the images.

Eliza and Everett wrote: “My only objection to this cover is that it showcases real people; a mother and her son… among other mothers and their children inside the magazine. These children have reputations that are forever damaged. We all know how cruel kids can be and making headlines and getting national coverage while sucking on your mom’s breast is not the way most young men hope to get their 15 seconds of fame.”

Time‘s Managing Editor Rick Stengel has reportedly acknowledged the cover as “provocative” since it went viral last night. He is quoted in several sources, including The Australian as saying:  “We’re posing an interesting question about a subject that couldn’t be more important – how we raise our children. People have all kinds of mixed feelings about that.”

What are your views on breastfeeding older children? Is there an age at which breastfeeding should stop, or does the problem lie in the attitude of society?